BECK WINNING FOR WENDI
It was October 29, 2022. Beck Warm got the start in goal for the Cyclones' home opener and helped his team pick up a come-from-behind 5-2 win over Iowa. You could look around the arena during the third period and see smiles in the stands, laughs on the bench, chatter amongst the players, and tears down the face of Warm.
The 23-year-old goaltender knew this game, on this date, would be the most emotional one of his career. It was the first time he wouldn't be able to see or call to wish his mother, Wendi Warm, a happy birthday.
"I thought I was doing a good job of keeping it together until we had a media timeout and we were up by a couple of goals in the third," said Warm. "I could feel my eyes getting wet, but I was able to compress it to get through the rest of the game. Once we got into the locker room; that was when the waterworks started."
Wendi's birthday was October 29. She would have turned 56 that day, but earlier that year on June 8, she passed away following a battle with cancer.
Amidst a sea of players yelling over max-volume music erupting from the team's speaker system in the locker room, Beck sat in his stall and finally submitted to his emotions. He could no longer fight the tears. Before her passing, Wendi told her son that grieving was natural and necessary. That night was just another step in the process.
"You grieve because you loved," said Warm. "Nobody wants to live in a world without love." And so, following that game, Beck wept with teammates beside him. "I think some of the guys were confused," Warm chuckled. "They probably thought to themselves 'Why is this guy crying? We just won the game!' "
That night was just one of many wins that Warm has produced in a Cyclones jersey this season. The Whistler, British Columbia native has 16 wins through 25 starts, owning a 2.96 goals against average coupled with a .901 save percentage. It's often said that hockey players are creatures of habit and routines. This season, Beck has added a new one.
"After wins, I give a look up to the sky and I just think about her. We were so close. Every day, whether it was a workout or driving to the rink on game days, I would call her. Even if it was just a 30 second chat, we would talk, and usually we wouldn't even talk about hockey. She just wanted to know how I was doing as a person; not as a hockey player. She was my person to call."
Through 23 games, Warm has over double the wins he earned last season with the Norfolk Admirals. His 2021-22 campaign was hindered by injuries, including a season-ending MCL tear in February. In hindsight, the timing couldn't have been better.
"Everything happens for a reason. It was right after my injury that I got a call from my older brother (Phelan). He said 'mom isn't doing well and I don't know how much longer she has.' So, because of that injury, I was able to go home and spend so much quality time with my mom those last few months. It was amazing."
After October 29, Beck knew Christmas would be the next difficult day to get through. Since the Cyclones had a short holiday break, Warm decided not to venture back to Western Canada, and instead took he and his girlfriend Danika to Nashville, Tennessee, where they stayed with Warm's billet parents from his junior hockey days.
"The holidays were definitely hard," he said. "There were tears, but there were laughs too. It was the full spectrum of emotions just thinking about some of the times we had together."
One of those times includes Beck's father, Randy, asking Wendi to save potato water. "She would always be in charge of making the mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner and every year my dad would want her to save some of the potato water to use for gravy, and every year, without a doubt, she would dump it down the drain. It didn't matter if we put sticky notes all around the kitchen. She would look right at them and still dump it down the drain."
Warm's memories are what help him maintain his smile, whether it be riding in the backseat of a car next to his twin brother Will while Wendi was driving them to and from games and practices growing up, or coming home to the sounds of country music playing on the radio, knowing his mom loved music in the Warm household. Or even near the end, when Beck would sit next to her as they watched Yellowstone together.
Beck's memories of his mom live on forever. They live in his heart, his mind, and on the back of his mask, where the initials of his father, Randy, his brothers Phalen and Will, and his girlfriend Danika's reside. Beneath each of those initials, at the base of his mask, lie the letters "WW," placed underneath a halo endorsed by angel wings, with the date "06.08.22" etched underneath.
February 4 is Cyclones Fight Cancer Night at Heritage Bank Center. Warm has been named team ambassador for the event, hoping his story helps others who have lost a loved one to cancer.
Call (513) 421-PUCK for tickets and more information, and stay on top of all the latest team updates and information on Facebook, Twitter (@CincyCyclones), and Instagram, along with our website, www.cycloneshockey.com!