Sad times as state’s youth scene mourns DeClerck, Harlan
Early June was not kind to the California youth scene as former California Golden Bears standout Dylan Harlan and former San Jose Jr. Sharks player Stefan DeClerck each passed away.
On June 4, Dylan and his father, Jim, were flying a single-engine Piper PA-28 airplane that crashed in the Santa Rosa Valley.
Dylan was a key member of the 14U AA team that won the CAHA state championship and had recently signed to play for AAA hockey next season for the California Titans.
Dylan is survived by his mother, Kirsten Doss, and his sister, T.K. Harlan.
At his funeral, Harlan was eulogized by Golden Bears hockey director Peter Torsson.
“We all grieve differently,” said Torsson. “We all don’t feel the same. Some of us are numb and don’t feel anything at all and that is OK. Some of us are angry, some are sad and some in denial. Regardless of stage, we are all in this together. This is real and we are broken. At this moment, it is OK to be strong enough to surrender to our emotions and to allow yourself to show those emotions.
“When someone is being empathetic, it is not the words or how they convey the message that matters but the action of care they take to make you feel better. Let them help you. When feeling down, angry or sad, reach out to someone and talk about it. Don’t let it fester.
“You have a choice, maybe not today, but it’s coming at some point you won’t even know when, you will only look back and realize you walked a path that defines what choice you made. It is fight or flight. You can choose to cry or let the tears build a pool of resentment inside you. You can choose to scream or let your thoughts echo inside your head and tear you down. You can act or let inaction withhold you from progress. You can share the pain or shun the love that surrounds you. If you want to honor Dylan, if you want to show who Dylan was, you will know what choice to make. It is irrefutable and clear.
“He can’t pass the puck to you and he can’t block another shot for you, but you can do it for him. You can push harder for him, you can make something out of yourself for him.
“At the end of this adversity, there are always positives. Dylan’s tragic accident gives you all perspective. It is his departing gift to all of you. Perspective is very powerful and delicate. It is a compass, a guidance through your life that will shape who you will become. If you use perspective to be negative, to quit, limit yourself or use it to blame anything, it will take you places you don’t want to go. If you use perspective to see more than a horizon, push through your own limits, think of new ideas, imagine the impossible as possible then you will prosper. No matter where you are, just know you will never walk alone, because just like Dylan — once a Bear, always a Bear.”
DeClerck, a Mountain View native, passed away June 7 at the age of 17. He had been attending Cranbrook Kingswood School in suburban Detroit, where he lived in the dorms and participated in a range of academic, musical and athletic pursuits.
He studied Mandarin and was recently selected as head of the school’s Computer and Entrepreneurship Clubs. As a passionate fan of Mozart and Beethoven, DeClerck played trumpet in the school’s concert band. He was the recipient of the McCaul STEM Award and made the Dean’s List within his Honors and AP curriculum.
Outside of Cranbrook, Stefan described himself as an “iOS developer, coding mentor and entrepreneur.” He published five iOS applications on the iTunes store and produced three iOS developer courses at Udemy.
Stefan is survived by his parents, Erika and Alan; siblings, Andrew, Keiko, and Hana; grandparents, Estela and Ricardo Ichikawa; and aunts and uncles, Lynn, Albert, David, Michael, Diane, James, Marianella and Tatiana.
— Matt Mackinder