“Matt was the kind of person who had no acquaintances. You were either his good friend, or you never met him,” one friend posted in memory of Matt Heffernan on the Newschoolers forums. The infectious smile and boundless energy of Heffy left us far too early this past weekend in a cliff jumping accident in Utah. “No matter what a person was really like, people always make them sound great when they pass. The great thing about Heffy though was no one needs to make him sound great… because he truly was” another remarked. Wise beyond his years, Matt had a profound impact reaching far into the ski community and beyond. Shock and disbelief still aplenty, we look for ways to rationalize and make peace with this loss, as we remember the times and memories that made Heff such a unique and special person.
The Ohio native turned Utah stalwart, was not only an amazing all around skier, but an inspiration to many. Another NS member shared this story; “I only met Heff one time. It was the 4th of July, 2014 up at Timberline. Everyone was ducking the rope into the High Cascade lap park and me and my buddy were about to do the same when Heff and the rest of salt crew rolled up. ‘You guys weren't planning on ducking that rope were you?’ Heff said very seriously. We both shook our heads [no]. A very prompt ‘Why the fuck not?’ followed. He then ducked the rope and skied away.” Heffy’s impeccable intelligence mixed with his pure desire to have fun, and share it with others, was truly unique.
Not only did Matt have the ability to make instant and meaningful connections with complete strangers, but he also had an innate strength to positively shape those closest to him. Several close friends reflected on this trait in a Facebook posts, saying, ”one of the best things about Heff was his ability to bring out the best in everyone regardless of the situation. He was constantly pushing us to up our skiing, and holding his friends to a high standard off the hill, because he saw the best in everyone and helped us become better people by leading with example.” Again showing great thoughtfulness Heff also knew how to push those friends in just the right way to help them along; “[he was] the absolute first person to call me a pussy when I wasn’t doing something to my fullest potential.” This spirit of grace and genuine belief in others may have left us in body, but the memories and lessons will continue to affect those who were able to meet him, as put by another friend, “[he] left us a blueprint of how we can carry out the rest of our lives.”
While this loss is undoubtedly a heavy burden to bear for those who knew and loved Matt, he will continue to be held in the thoughts and memories of the ski community for his inexhaustible stoke and grace. So, with every cork 7 blunt, every grain of salt sprinkled on Mt. Hood, and all the other memories accumulated by friends and family, we will cherish the memories and aspire to live like Heffy.
Quotes in order of appearance: Landis Tanaka, Dan Dougherty, NS Member: DINKLEBERG, Forster Meeks, Steve Stepp
See these friends and others reflections on Matt's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/heffnasty