MISSISSAUGA, Ontario -- Not far from where Mike Reynolds once tore up the grass playing the game he loved, more than 200 people gathered yesterday for the funeral of the Baltimore Blast defender.
Reynolds, 27, died Monday after suffering a stroke during a soccer clinic last weekend for inmates at the Jessup (Md.)
Pre-Release Detention Center.
Reynolds first kicked a soccer ball at 6 in the back yard of his parents' home here, a suburb west of Toronto.
"After those he loved, it was soccer he lived for," Reynolds' brother Orville said.
Orville Reynolds, 25, said the three Reynolds brothers were playfully scolded by their father during the 1960s and '70s for turning their family's back yard into a balding soccer field.
"There was a whole gang that used to play soccer in our back yard. It was the meeting place for all the kids. We used to tear up the grass and make my dad mad," Orville Reynolds said.
"Mike was the ringleader. He was the biggest, the fastest, the strongest and the most popular, but he never took advantage of it."
The hourlong, closed-casket service was held at the Church of St. Bride.
"His ultimate desire was to play soccer, and he started playing at the professional level at age 22," Reynolds' longtime friend and former teammate, Andrew Hay, said during the eulogy.
The Rev. Canon Thomas said: "Today, we are thinking of Michael, who, in the bloom of his young manhood, has been taken. We don't know why. This world is an imperfect one."
Freddie Thompson, a Blast teammate of Reynolds' until joining the Tacoma Stars last season, said: "He was the same on the soccer field as he was in life. He was unassuming, but got the job done.
"His impact on the field, any team would have benefited from. But it was his personality off the field that was the truly great thing about him. He touched so many lives."
The Blast's Richard Chinapoo and Dale Mitchell served as pall bearers.
At least 40 trophies were displayed in glass cabinets in the Reynolds' front sitting room.
"They're mostly all championship trophies from his time playing in Mississauga," Thompson said. "The others were given to his dad and his brothers. They all played soccer."
Reynolds, who was to be married in October, played for Toronto Italia and Mississauga United before going on to George Mason University, where he was an All-American. After joining the Blast in 1986, he rebounded from severe hypertension -- which caused him to sit out a season -- to become the club's Comeback Player of the Year in 1989-90.
The family, which requested that no autopsy be performed, apparently doesn't believe that high blood pressure caused Reynolds' death.
"I don't think it was his hypertension," Orville Reynolds said. "He lived with that for 10 years and with medication. He was coping. Anyway, you couldn't have told Mike to slow down."