The flags outside the Clarence "Du" Burns Arena flew at half-staff, but the hearts and minds of more than a hundred Baltimore Blast fans were full of pleasant memories of Mike Reynolds.
"Michael was a gift from God, and that gift has been returned to him," Blast coach Kenny Cooper said yesterday.
"We're all just privileged to share a part of our lives with him."
Reynolds died July 1 at age 27 after suffering a stroke during a soccer demonstration at the Jessup Pre-Release Detention Center two days earlier.
The service, which gave Baltimoreans an opportunity to honor Reynolds locally, attracted family, friends and fans.
Funeral services for Reynolds were Saturday in Mississauga, Ontario.
"In a memorial service such as this with so many happy memories, we ought to carry away in Michael's name a special remembrance," said Blast chaplain Monsignor Martin Schwalenberg, who presided over the service.
Laura Bittner, a friend of Reynolds', sat by herself in the top row of the bleachers. She remembered making a point of introducing herself to Reynolds because he was replacing one of her favorite Blast players, Franz Mathieu, who had been traded.
She said she used to tease Mike about playing in Mathieu's place. "I said, 'I hope you can play that position with as much style, class and talent as Franz did,' " Bittner said about the running joke she and Reynolds shared that became the root of their friendship.
"I'm glad I had a chance to say, 'Well, Mike, you did it,' " Bittner said.
"He was one of those people who always was just so down to earth, a nice guy to know. Heck of a guy," Bittner said, shaking her head. "Heck of a guy. What a shock."
Blast forward Rusty Troy, who spoke on behalf of the team, remembered when Reynolds took him out to dinner for roast-beef sandwiches after practice one night.
"That was the best roast-beef sandwich I ever had, and I'm from Texas so that says a lot," Troy said, managing a smile.
"Anyone could have come up here and talked," Troy said, as he looked down at the podium and was silent for a moment.
"I was the lucky one."
Blast season-ticket holder Catherine Hall remembered Reynolds as a player who always tried.
"He was ready to try anything. He was just a wonderful person," Hall said.
"After he came back after sitting out a year, we were glad to see him," she said.
Earl Braun of Baltimore, said, "He always gave a 100 percent and was a real team player."