Even before Thomas Kennedy stepped on the Sport-O-Rama ice to play hockey, he was well acquainted with the place.
“Hockey was a big part of Tommy’s life and he was very proud of it,” said George Kennedy III, one of Thomas Kennedy’s older brothers. “Tommy was the youngest, so he also got to know the rafters and under the bleachers as a rink rat watching his older brothers play hockey here.”
Friday night, many family and friends of Thomas Kennedy’s gathered at Sport-O-Rama in Monsey, where Rink 2 was named in his honor. Army Maj. Thomas Kennedy was killed earlier this year on Aug. 8 in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber. Earlier on Friday, Arden Place in New City was named after Kennedy.
He grew up in New City playing hockey for the Ramapo Saints and at Don Bosco Preparatory High School before graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
On Friday at the newly named Major Thomas E. Kennedy Memorial Rink, Kennedy’s parents, Pat and George, were on hand for the dedication ceremony. His mother, Pat, unveiled the large banner that hangs at center ice between the two teams’ benches. The Saints also presented the family with donations raised that will go to Kennedy’s two children.
The dedication ceremony took place prior to a youth hockey game featuring the Ramapo Saints and New Jersey Colonials, who are coached by Kennedy’s brother George. Kennedy’s other brother, John, was also on hand for the ceremony, along with Thomas Kennedy’s wife, Kami, and their two-year-old twins, Maggie and Brody.
“As I look around, this is where it all began, right here on this sheet of ice,” George Kennedy III said. “For Tommy, John and me, much of our youth was spent at hockey rinks and most of it here at Sport-O-Rama. This is such a special place and occasion to honor Tommy, and as his brother I can tell you, he would be very proud.”
During warmups and the dedication ceremony, the Saints wore jerseys with Thomas Kennedy’s nickname, “TK,” on the front and his number, 14, on the back. Many people in crowd wore shirts with the Saints logo that read “First a Saint, then a hero, now an angel” on the front and “TK” and the number 14 on the back.
Rink owner Barry Wolkon spoke about the family atmosphere that has developed at Sport-O-Rama over its 37 years of existence.
“It’s great to see so many of you who played hockey here years ago come back to visit, some of you who played here as young kids now bringing your own children here to play hockey,” he said. “What often goes unnoticed in this is the incredibly small community that we have all built with each other over these many years of playing, cheering, organizing, traveling and supporting each other in our journey through youth hockey together. And no time is more important than right now for all of us to come together as a community to show our love, honor, gratitude and support for Tommy Kennedy and the entire Kennedy family, who have all been such a wonderful part of this rink, these hockey teams and all of our families over the years.”
He added that it was an honor to name the rink after Kennedy.
“Tommy and the entire Kennedy family will always have a special place in our hearts and will always have a special place in this rink,” he said.