Texas Tech's Carly Wickenheiser patterns herself after late father
LUBBOCK, Texas - A gold necklace with an engraved bar that reads "DPW" hangs around Carly Wickenheiser's neck.
It reminds the Texas Tech freshman midfielder of who she wants to pattern her life after, the father she can't remember-- Doug Peter Wickenheiser.
"I just think about the person he was," Carly said. "I would always hear about what a great guy he was. I wanted to know how he was so I could model after him."
Doug, the first overall pick in the 1980 NHL draft, is most known for scoring one of the most memorable goals in St. Louis Blues history -- the Monday Night Miracle -- to give St. Louis a playoff victory over the Calgary Flames.
Days after marrying Dianne in 1992, he underwent surgery to remove a cyst on his wrist.
It wasn't a cyst.
Instead, he was treated for bone cancer.
It was a malignant tumor.
After the tumor was removed, Doug was cancer-free for three years, but in 1997, the cancer returned.
This time it was in his lungs. A year later, cancerous lesions were found in his brain.
Carly was 20 months old when he died in January 1999.
"You just wish he could be here," Dianne said. "The hardest part of it is I so wish he could be here for her, and it would be even that much better. It's pretty great as it is."
Growing up around every sport imaginable and going to a multitude of hockey games and events, Carly felt Doug's absence most when she was at her own practices or games.
"So much of the sports world is dads are always the ones taking their daughters out and making them go out and practice and stuff," Carly said. "Since I never had that, my mom would do the best she could, but it was never the same. I had to push myself a lot. It was hard seeing the other girls with their dads out there practicing.
"I learned how to do things on my own."
Carly grew up with her mom and twin sisters, Kaitlyn and Rachel, who are 3 years older.
Kaitlyn currently attends TCU, while Rachel is at Miami of Ohio.
Besides taking the girls wherever they needed to go growing up, Dianne also did her best to keep Doug's memory alive.
"She's always telling us stories about him," Carly said. "It's not like she's pushing it in our faces. She's definitely the majority of the reason I do know so much about my dad as I do and how much love I can see she had for him and how much she respected him.
"That's how I can connect with him."
For Dianne, it was the St. Louis hockey community that helped get them through and revive his spirit with stories.
Outside of family, the retelling of favorite memories come from men whom Doug played hockey with and even many Blues fans.
"I've always been so grateful for that generosity of the people that told the girls about their dad," Dianne said. "We're just part of the Blues family through all these years. They love seeing the girls. They've been a great support group throughout the years. They've loved watching them grow up. It's really neat."
Now she's at Tech, Carly knows she isn't able to attend as many St. Louis Blues games as she has in the past.
But when she goes home over Christmas break, she can't wait to go to the Scottrade Center and watch as much hockey as she can.
"It's a really cool feeling, especially when we see his old friends that he played with," Carly said. "It's just cool to think that once they were playing the same game with people watching them.
"There's a spot in the arena where his jersey is. Every time we go there, we take a picture with it. It's a cool tradition we have."
Happy birthday to the best guy! Wishing you were still here with us but love and miss you everyday pic.twitter.com/bi9V1kusAK— Carly Wickenheiser (@mcwicki) March 31, 2015
When Carly was 5 she and her aunt were in the backyard playing a card game.
Dianne remembers walking outside and seeing the same competitive tenacity in her youngest daughter as she did in her husband.
"Carly was leaning on her hand and staring her aunt down waiting for her next move," Dianne said. "Doug was always like that."
Carly treasures the stories she's been told about how much her father loved to play games and how competitive he was.
Her favorite story is about how her father flipped over the Monopoly board when he was losing.
The resemblances don't stop there.
From Carly's humble personality, to the way she walks, runs and moves to how she looks, Dianne always sees her husband in her daughter.
"When she was born, her whole temperament, everything about her reminds me of her dad," Dianne said. "It's amazing that even without him here she's still like him. It's something special."
As Carly has grown and become more competitive in soccer, the resemblance to her father has gotten stronger.
"Sometimes we'll be out at practice, and Tom (Stone) will be like, 'Oh, you can see the hockey blood coming out in her,'" Carly said. "I like when people tell me I'm like my dad."
Four minutes into the second overtime period at Cal State Northridge, Carly looped a shot over the keeper for the game winner.
It was Carly's first goal and the only game Dianne has missed seeing.
"(My mom) was watching online but then she had to go somewhere right as the second overtime started," Carly said.
Added Dianne, "I'm planning on not missing any other games."
Carly's junior and senior years at St. Joseph's Academy, she wore the number 14 in honor of her father. That number was already taken at Texas Tech, but she hopes to wear the number again her junior season as a Red Raider.
"I love being able to wear my dad's number," Carly said as a smile spread across her face. Dianne always hoped the best for her daughters as they grew up, and Carly has already amazed her.
"Carly was very well-loved as a child," Dianne said. "I think everyone kept his memory alive so much. I think there's something still very special about that. And we have a very strong faith. I think because of that faith, we've always put God first in our lives."
That faith, along with the stories and the example set by her mother, are what Carly attributes to how she's become the person she is today.
"It's definitely helped carry me," Carly said. "It helped me be able to deal with losing a dad and being able to get over that and realize I can still do just as much and succeed."
Even though Carly lost her father at a young age, Dianne loves to see Doug's resemblance in her.
"She has reminded me of him since she was born," Dianne said. "And she reminds me of him by the person she's becoming."
This article was written by Krista Pirtle from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.