Bryan Randall

I first met Bryan on an afternoon in 1984 in the place we both felt most at comfortable: the basketball court.  From our first encounter, there was something different about Bryan that left a deep personal connection – a core impression, really – like we’d been waiting 18 years for the time when our divergent backgrounds would cross and our orbits would again sync together as if pre-planned, this time in a little solar system that was Dartmouth basketball.

On the top level of Alumni Gym there was a forgotten basketball court with some wooden backboards surrounded by stuffy air, wrestling mats and gymnastics equipment.  Being gym rats at heart, and looking for solitude, we both found ourselves shooting baskets there one afternoon during freshman week.  After sizing each other up, we eventually spoke and began playing the first of many (increasingly vigorous) games of one-on-one. At the end of the day, he just introduced himself as “Ice.”  I don’t know how many days it took for me to learn his real name, but I knew he played a brand of cool and intense basketball that I’d never seen before and so “Ice” just seemed to fit.  I was equally puzzling to him, I suppose, because smiling and laughing he quickly nicknamed me “Utah” – apparently it was funny that a kid like me from Utah could play basketball or sync with a much better player from Buffalo the way we did on the court.

Of course, anyone who played basketball with Bryan understands that he had a sixth sense – a form of basketball genius – that made his teammates around him expect any pass, at any time, from any place on the court.  And most fun of all, when he got a rebound or a steal it was time to run.  That’s when Ice and I spoke the same unspoken language.  He had a “look.” His eyes got big and happy, his head tilted away, his face glowed, his body language changed, and he paused slightly as he would dribble or look off defenders for the next move.  And if you read this look correctly and made the right cut he would get you the ball for an easy basket — often followed by another look that, for me, was a reassuring pat on the back letting you know you were playing his higher brand of ball!  But whether it was in front of a tiny crowd in the early years at alumni gym (we won 5 games that first year) or at the biggest moments or most important games, somehow with Ice it always seemed as natural and fluid as two kids who had been playing pick-up basketball their whole life.  That was the basketball connection.  That was basketball heaven.  That was Ice.

Friendship with him off the court could be just as natural, and perhaps just as unexpected.  I’m certain my story of friendship with Bryan is just one of hundreds of similar stories both on and off the court.  He was charismatic and shy; energetic and withdrawn; happy and heavy; enormously popular yet introverted.  But his personality and his talents were special in ways that allowed him to make friendships and connections across a range of Dartmouth classmates.  Fortunately for me, it included finding unexpected chemistry with one kid from Utah that ran much deeper and much truer than just a teammate or pick-up basketball game friendship. That was Bryan.  We miss him.

— John Mackay

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