Thursday, August 7, 2014

Control - My Kirk Urso Story

Before August 5, 2012, all I knew about Kirk Urso was that he was a rookie Columbus Crew midfielder. I remember watching him play in a few games at Crew Stadium and I thought he had good control of the midfield. 

On August 5, 2012, Kirk suddenly passed away from an undetected congenital heart defect. He was 22. Through my sister, who works for the Crew, I have been fortunate to become friends with Kirk's family. Over the last two years, I have learned about the person Kirk was: the player, friend, brother and son. I learned about his kind nature, his comical personality and his leadership on and off the soccer field. Here are just a few examples of these traits:

There are many things that are out of our control. When our life or our loved one's lives come to an end is the most heart-wrenching example. Control is especially lost when tragedy strikes. However, what we do have control over is our attitude, our character and how we respond to difficult situations. As Kirk said: 

Besides Kirk's family, another person I became friends with because of this tragedy is Steve Sirk. Steve is an amazing writer who has a lot in common with Kirk. He's witty, well-liked and compassionate. Over the past two years, Steve has selflessly dedicated countless hours to writing a book in Kirk's memory. Here's a quick summary of the book: 

Forever Massive, is a collection of stories and insights from the players, coaches, and staff of the 2012 Columbus Crew, who knew Kirk as a leader, listener, friend, straight-faced humorist, and a constant source of positive inspiration. These stories, presented in the players’ own words, reveal Urso as the Crew knew him. (Hint: Most of the interviews featured smiles and laughter.) The book also looks at Kirk’s legacy and impact going forward, including how congenital heart defect research– like the kind supported by the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund– has changed the life of one Ohio family. You will meet the little “heart kid” with whom Kirk formed a poignantly serendipitous friendship.
Kirk and "heart kid" Ryan Moore on May 1, 2012 at the Connor Senn Memorial Game in Columbus, Ohio.

A year ago I began to use the mobile application, Aurasma, in my 5th grade classroom as a way to engage students and keep parents up to date on current topics. (I actually wrote this post last August about how I planned to use Aursama for the start of the 2013 school year.) In a nutshell, when a smart device is held over top of a predetermined picture, the app will trigger a video to begin playing. The picture actually morphs into a video right before your eyes. Children and adults are always amazed when they use Augmented Reality.

Click HERE to access a video about Augmented Reality and Aurasma. 

Knowing that Aurasma could provide a unique, interactive element to Steve's book, I pitched the idea to him with his immediate approval. Therefore, for several months as I worked on the book, I watched videos of Kirk -- videos of him playing soccer, tribute videos after he passed away, and even videos that he recorded on his cell phone. It's odd to say that someone I've never met has had a great impact on my life, especially after his death, but it's the truth in my case. Many Crew fans, like me, never got the chance to meet Kirk, get to know him, or learn from him. However, I'm glad that I learned the lessons I did as I helped with this book. Both Steve's and my hope is that the readers will learn more about Kirk and allow his story to impact their lives in the way it did ours.

The book titled, Forever Massive, is now available for purchase. ALL the proceeds will go to the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund which provides funding focused on congenital heart research and sudden cardiac death in youth. In addition to being beautifully written with custom illustrations, there are over twenty pictures that are augmented (or linked) to over forty minutes of video footage that will give the reader a unique look into the life of this beloved young man. If you're a soccer fan, someone intrigued by augmented reality, or someone looking to hear a story of life, loss and love, please consider purchasing the book.

If you would like to order, Forever Massive, please click here and if you would like to learn more about or donate to the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund, please click here.

If you would like to test out an example of the Augmented Reality component of the book, follow the directions below: (It should take less than three minutes)

1.) Download 'Aurasma' from your smart device's App Store and click through any tutorials. 
2.) Click the magnifying glass at the bottom.
3.) Search "Forever Massive," click the first option (The "I Am Strong" image) and then click 'follow' in the upper righthand corner. 
4.) Next, click the broken square at the bottom. Hold your device over the image below (as if you were going to take a picture) and immediately the picture should trigger a video. 
**If you double tap the screen, you will be able to move your device away from the image.

Photo credit: Sam Fahmi    Video credit: Major League Soccer
This project was a labor of love for me, but I have so many people to thank. To soccer fans and tech gurus, Drew Minock and Brad Waid: Thank you for helping me learn how to use Aurasma last summer and helping me see the possibilities Augmented Reality held both inside and outside my classroom. Thank you to Steve Sirk for dedicating so much time to this wonderful project and to my sister, Arica, for her unwavering strength and support. To the Urso family: Thank you for sharing your memories of Kirk with those of us who never met him. And finally, thank you to Kirk for the life you led and the legacy you left behind. 

Although there is enough in life that we don't have control over, we DO have control over how we spend each day.

And when life spins out of control, remember Kirk's words: 


If you purchase the book and have trouble accessing the videos through Aurasma, please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@ArinKress), leave a comment below or email me at and I will gladly assist you with any difficulties. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Arin for your kind words and support, and to your family.