Friday, June 13, 2014

R.I.P. Matt Wheeler

It's always hard to swallow when you find out someone you have known has passed away , this week the hockey world lost a great guy . Matt Wheeler was an American teaching , living and loving life in Indonesia . I met Matt in Singapore at the tournament there in 2007 , we played together for the Singapore Lions and won the Maple Leaf Cup together as team mates . The year after i was invited by Matt to play for the first travel team from Jakarta . He put the team together and organized everything for us and i flew out to Indonesia to play hockey with him and the rest of the gang out there . 

During my stay in Indonesia i was lucky enough to stay with his family . We had so much fun as they introduced me to Jakarta . I will never forget my first night there with Matt watching Californication , he loved that show and introduced it to me that very first night as we sat around talking about what had happened in the year we haven't seen each other . It
was genuine , we really had a good chat and called it a night . There was no wild party , no faking or pretending to be anyone else ... it was really just me and Matt bonding as team mates and friends . It was special and i wish i would have told him that .... this is really hard for me to talk about as i have been busy fighting tears off at work for the last couple days . Doing this , writing this right now is my therapy ... but its' hard , we really lost a great guy !

Over my stay in Jakarta Matt took me everywhere and i was astonished at how busy he was and how he flowed through it all like it was nothing ... in reality it was something . Matt was a teacher at an American school in Indonesia where he was also a tennis instructor , he ran a soccer (football) tournament for his school which i went to and saw Matt at his finest with parents , colleagues and children there all showing him the utmost respect . I remember that day vividly when Matt told me to
walk into the village next to the school , it was pretty rough there ... people were living in huts and there were chickens running freely across the dirt roads and the one thing that sticks out is having Matt tell me to not be scared and if i see anything to buy it from the people . He said it would make them happy if i spent money in the village ... so i went on my own into this village and i did exactly as he said and he was right ... the people were so happy when i walked into this hut just to buy a cola . Only a guy like Matt would be fully aware of his surroundings like this .

It was really amazing seeing how many people Matt would help without even realizing he was helping them , i think he enjoyed it himself as the experiences rolled over for him . I was in Jakarta for a week with him then we went to play in Singapore . Matt was a fierce competitor on the ice , with his trade mark yellow bucket helmet ... a few guys asked me who the guy with that yellow helmet was LOL ! It was Wheels as we all called him :) 

Matt you have left us for now , the hockey world in Asia will definitely miss you . My condolences go out to your family and friends as i/we all know you had blessed so many of us by just knowing you . I feel extra lucky to have had the time that we spent together , i was hoping to visit you next summer and now i only hope to come to Jakarta some day to play in a tournament named in your honour or to at least see a trophy named after you ... as we all know anything that had anything to do with you was golden . Matt i will miss you buddy , i really hope we have the chance to play some puck on the other side some day . Rest in Peace my friend :( 


  1. Thank you so much for these words about Matt. He was my cousin and although I rarely saw him, he will be missed and remembered.

    Doug in Minnesota

  2. Hi Doug , Your cousin was an amazing guy ! Very well liked ... i am thankful to have known him .

  3. Great tribute. I'm part of the Jakarta hockey club here and we've been doing our best to honor him in the proper way. Singapore has already taken a moment of silence and we will as well when we lace up tomorrow. Please get in touch with us if you plan to come out this way. Cheers Chris

  4. Beautiful. Thanks Adrian. Like Chris I'm a Jakarta player. Matt's death has hit us all really hard. Drop me a line if you like

  5. Hi Paul & Chris , i am definitely going to try making my way over there next year and would love to meet you both . This has really hit a bunch of people we know hard , it was way too sudden ...

  6. Hey Adrian. Like you I'm also a goalie traveling the world in search of a team I can play on. I remember comin to Jakarta freaking out that there were so many goalies and scared there wouldn't be enough room for me. Matt made me feel so welcome like I was part of the family right away.

    And although I'm back in Canada if love to get back to Jakarta to see the boys again. Great blog...really enjoyed reading it. He was such a great guy that I don't doubt for second his kind actions will live on through all of us.

    Like Paul drop me a line anytime:


  7. I'm a cousin of Matts. I seen him at the tennis club in The Woodlands, Texas and my brother Alfred, Matt and I went to breakfast together. I'm sorry to hear he has passed. I pray eternal rest and peace grant unto him. I'm keeping your family in my prayers.
    Love & Blessings,

  8. Thanks for you kind words about Matt. I first met him in 1988 at the Manitou tennis camp in Ontario, Canada and he was such a great guy and a fierce competitor on the tennis court! Had not seen him in years until we ran into each other at LAX waiting for flights. He was heading back to Jakarta and it was great to hear about how he was doing with work at the international school and the hockey. My condolences to his family...he will be missed.

  9. Thank you, Adrian.


  10. Thank you everyone for the kind words ... to be honest i wrote this with a lot of emotion and today i wake up thinking of our friend and it doesn't make me sad , no ... today thinking about Matt has put a smile on my face ! we are all lucky to have met such a great influential person such as Matt . So don't thank me ... thank the fact that you knew him too :) thank you all for reading .

  11. I knew Matt through Peter Burwash International and Minneapolis. I just learned of Matt's passing a few weeks ago and was shocked and saddened. Matt was always very gracious with his time with me...he had this phone that had a 612 area code and he always sounded like he was next door even in Jakarta. Everyone in PBI thought very highly of Wheels and like everyone he spent time with...I am also very thankful I knew him:) Jon Lightning Koenigs