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Popular hockey referee from Nashville commemorated after battle with cancer

Popular hockey referee from Nashville commemorated after battle with cancer
Popular hockey referee from Nashville commemorated after battle with cancer


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) Mike O'Neil was a big part of the Nashville hockey community as a player, coach and longtime referee at the Centennial Sportsplex.

He has performed youth and adult plays for more than 25 years.

After a four-year battle with cancer, Mike passed away earlier this week.

Still, many say he won't soon be forgotten, especially not where he spent his time.

“Cancer couldn't keep him from what he loved,” said Frank Wright, rink facility coordinator at Centennial Sportsplex, who worked closely with Mike.

He explained that before and after his diagnosis, Mike still always came to the rink to officiate or play a hockey game.

“As far as a referee goes, not many people are going to have a smile on their face while they're playing the game,” Wright said.
“And Mike often had that smile on his face!”

Mike's brother, Scott O'Neil, says Mike was loyal to the game and to his family.

He was a proud father of four children and always played hockey tournaments with his brothers.

“Life is so short and people take it for granted. I know I did that,” Scott said. “I wish I had called him every day…”

He continued his message to remind you to call, visit and hold your loved ones close for as long as you can because you never know what will happen.

His family will hold a memorial service that will also include a free skate Sunday morning from 10 to 11 a.m. at Centennial Sportsplex. They say everyone who knew Mike is free to come.

“He will definitely always be here at the rink,” Wright said.




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