Fellow coaches and teachers were often in awe of how Ryan Kilian worked tirelessly on behalf of student-athletes.
Kilian taught physical education and special education in the Bedford public schools, where he served as varsity boys’ basketball coach the past two seasons. Yet he also found time to coach the middle school football team, build up Bedford youth lacrosse, engage in social justice initiatives, and serve as editor-in-chief for BostonLax.net and MassPreps.com.
When the 43-year-old Kilian died unexpectedly Monday in his Chelmsford home, the Massachusetts sporting community suffered a huge loss.
“A lot of coaches are good at coaching. A lot of teachers are good at teaching. A lot of reporters are good at reporting. And [Kilian] excelled at all of them,” said Chelmsford boys’ lacrosse coach Sean Wright.
“I can’t imagine doing what he did on a daily basis. He made Massachusetts high school sports, and beyond, better because of it, and he left an energy that not many people can match. He lived and breathed his passion.”
Kilian is survived by his wife, Rebekah, and sons, Kain and Bryson, both of whom are in the Bedford youth lacrosse program. Last Sunday, Kilian saw Kain, an incoming fifth-grader, score the winning goal for Laxachusetts at a club tournament in Holderness, N.H.
On July 2, Kilian and his sons were on the sideline when his alma mater, Concord-Carlisle, won the Division 2 boys’ lacrosse championship. The 1996 graduate played football, basketball, and lacrosse at C-C before earning degrees at the University of New Hampshire and Cal State Long Beach.
For C-C coach Tom Dalicandro, who coached Kilian in football and lacrosse, watching his former player become an authority on Massachusetts lacrosse, as well as an extremely connected and respected coach in his own right, created a sense of pride.
“To me, I’ll remember him as a high school kid,” said Dalicandro, who became boys’ lacrosse coach in 2000 after seven seasons as an assistant. “Now it’s just been awesome to see him do what he loves to do. He’s been so influential for lacrosse and he’s always connected with our program.”
Kilian went the extra mile for his kids and others, sometimes literally, as he would often drive Bedford middle school football players back and forth from Boston to game sites.
“That’s the type of stuff [Kilian] would do. He was selfless,” said Bedford High math teacher Jeff LoPresti, who spent 11 seasons coaching Bedford boys’ lacrosse and coached middle school football alongside Kilian. “He wanted the press and media for the kids, not for himself. He didn’t want publicity. He wanted the kids to get exposure. I don’t know where he found the time. And he was a great father on top of it all.”
Kilian recently finished selecting the rosters for the BostonLax All-American Game, which is scheduled for July 22 in Weymouth.
The annual event is dedicated to the memory of Bruce Lerch, a former Boston Herald writer credited with increasing the popularity of Massachusetts lacrosse through tireless coverage. Also gone too soon, Kilian’s legacy is in line with that of Lerch, and the All-American Game is expected to honor his memory.
“Bruce was such a core part of building up Massachusetts lacrosse and I see Ryan as kind of carrying on that legacy,” said St. John’s Prep boys’ lacrosse coach John Pynchon. “He was just always promoting the sport and promoting the kids. I’m just completely shocked. It’s a loss for the lacrosse community, but it’s bigger than that. It’s a blow to the entire Massachusetts high school sports community to lose someone like that.”
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The visiting hours for Ryan Kilian will be Friday, from 4-8 p.m., at the Blake Funeral Home, 24 Worthen Street, Chelmsford. A memorial service will be held Saturday morning, at Blake Funeral Home, at 10 a.m.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Kilian children: https://www.gofundme.com/f/ryan-kilian-memorial-fundraiser.