An Open Reflection: Commemorating the Lives and Impacts of Blaine Steinberg and Torin Tucker

by Gayne Kalustian | 6/13/15 6:08am

As the members of the Class of 2015 prepare today to embark on the rest of their lives — jobs, service opportunities, enrollments in continuing education in high-up and far-off places — two seats are left vacant, filled only by the flowers in honor of the memories of Blaine Steinberg ’15 and Torin Tucker ’15. But their roles in this community can be described as anything but empty.

Tucker and Steinberg were not only parts of the Dartmouth community, but were active in shaping it, both in life and in death. Steinberg, a recruited lacrosse player and sister at Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, was known among friends for reaching out to anybody and everybody she could. The Steinberg family has created the Live Like Blaine Foundation to support young female athletes in their pursuits and through life’s great opportunities.

Tucker, a skier and a brother at Chi Heorot fraternity, was so active with his brotherhood and his team that the fraternity has erected an award in his name. It was given this year to Nolan Kasper ’14, who was on crutches this term but remained active in the house. Heorot’s president, Adam Charnin-Aker ’16, said Kasper was given the award for exhibiting the qualities of “hard work, discipline and fun” which Tucker brought to Heorot and his team.

A men’s lacrosse player, Adam Fishman ’15, similarly thought to commemorate the lives of the two athletes by organizing the Memorial Challenge. The event, he said, raised $36,722 for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Heart and Vascular Center, and brought together unlikely groups of people—from young local girls to varsity athletes to elderly community members—in the way both Steinberg and Tucker did.

Adam Frank ’15, a co-organizer of the Challenge, said the goal was not only to remember but to reflect on the lives of Tucker and Steinberg, “honoring” them “as a community.”

Though their physical absence is felt every day, and few days more than this one, their reach extends to all corners of the community, their memories live in the people who cared for them. Blaine Steinberg’s and Torin Tucker’s impacts remain electric, real and tangible as they continue to inspire those who hear their stories to — as Matt Robinson ’15 said of Torin Tucker’s attitude toward everything — seize the day.

—Gayne Kalustian

What did Blaine and Torin teach you?

"To get out of bed, be outside and enjoy every day to its fullest…that’s what [Torin]embodied. That’s who he was. "

—Matt Robinson '15

"You will talk to so many people and they will say, 'Blaine was my best friend or one of my top three friends or my go to person,'… and I think that was in large part due to her ability to make you feel very special when you were around that. I think about that a lot with my own friendships and my family and try to bring that to them."

—Carrie Wolf '15

"Always keep smiling. If you’re having a bad day, you know it’s just one day. You know Torin would have smiled, so you smile too."

—Isabel Caldwell '14

"To be confident in yourself. Even if what you want isn’t what the rest of the crowd is doing, then you still go with your gut and do what you want to do. Blaine...always had her own way."

—Jess Freider '15

Torin:

"Torin was selfless."

—Katrina Packer '15

"Torin was a catalyzer."

—Matt Robinson '15

"Torin was closet smart because he was so humble."

—Katrina Packer '15

"Torin was a goofball."

—Isabel Caldwell '14

"At one point over the summer, we got it in our heads that we were going try and float a pong table down the Connecticut. We got ahold of these inner tubes and strapped them to the bottom of a pong table…we took a stereo out…and just floated this ridiculous pong table boat on the Connecticut.

We were sitting on each corner and it was like… you were never above water. The water was up to your stomach basically….We all knew it was the very end of the summer and it was our last hurrah. It was cool to share that with Torin.

The reason that came about was because he was very…gung-ho about making sure we had these sophomore summer experiences and everyone was included….We were losing stuff, the radio got cut out because it got water on it. It did not go well, but it was hilarious. There were people canoeing by us, and we just paddled next to them."

— Silas Talbot ’15

"One thing that he always did whenever he left campus for a while was call me every week. I was kind of like, 'Ah, Torin’s calling me again,' and would pick up. Every week. He’d call me, call Silas [Talbot], call all his friends and just check in and make sure everyone was doing okay over the summer. I’d just say, 'Yes, Torin, I’m the same as last week.'"

— Austin Caldwell ’15

"Torin did the girls loop with me. I’ll always remember that run, going over Franconia together, chit-chatting along about our springs. He was grinning the whole time, telling me, 'You can do it, [Isabel]! We’re almost there!'"

— Isabel Caldwell ’14

"He came back over the summer and hadn’t worked out in three months and just jumped right back in. I remember on one of our first over distance runs, the guys started behind us at a further distance than us. The girls were jogging along and everyone is passing us at a certain point and we finally finish and are sitting there thinking, why aren’t we going back yet? Oh yeah, Torin. He just jogged up like fifteen minutes after everyone, smiling, saying, “Man that was such a great run guys it’s so pretty here!” And just looked absolutely miserable but absurdly cheerful."

— Karina Packer ’15

Blaine:

"Blaine embodied confidence."

—Jess Freider '15

"Blaine wasthemost genuinely caring person."

—Matt MacDowell'15

"Blaine was a free spirit."

—Carrie Wolf'15

"Blaine was completely original."

—Tatiana Saunders '15

"In the end, [coming to Dartmouth] was so great because I feel her here. I know that sounds so stupid when people say that because what does that mean? But I definitely have felt a difference between going home and being here.

I know my parents love being here, and I do too because I’m incorporating her into my life in a way that I don’t have to think about. It’s just so easy. Because she is here for me."

— Leigh Steinberg ’18

"Right after Torin passed away, she was having a super hard time with it....It was a Wednesday night and she was like, “I just want to meet up.”...She came over and we just had a conversation about how quickly life can change and she was making sure she told everyone she was close with how important they were.

At the time, you kind of shake it off and say yeah, I really care about you too, and then three weeks later she wasn’t even around anymore. That was my last memorable experience with Blaine and it just shows you how genuine of a person she really was."

— MattMacDowell ’15

"The year before we came to Dartmouth we came to watch [the women’s lacrosse team] play in the NCAA tournament….My dad, Blaine and I drove up together and on the way back we stopped at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield and Blaine loved it. It was funny to see her react to that because she’s a huge…sports fan."

— Jess Frieder ’15

"I was coming back from practice and by this time Blaine wasn’t on the lacrosse team because she had severe concussions and wasn’t allowed to play. I turn the corner, and she is just playing wall ball with the lacrosse stick, throwing the ball against the wall and catching it, dripping in sweat — absolutely covered in sweat, headphones in.

I remember just thinking wow, your body isn’t allowing you to play the sport that you love but that hasn’t stopped you from doing things you enjoy. I remember being completely taken back and being amazed.

So many people suffer through injuries and they are told they can’t play and they think, “That’s it. I’m done with it for the rest of my life.” That basically happened to Blaine, but she still found ways to do the things she loved."

—Tatiana Saunders ’15