A young Kingussie shinty player died after suffering from a “catastrophic cardiac event”.
Calum MacKintosh – who broke into the first team at Kingussie Camanachd Club this season – died in Edinburgh on Saturday.
In a statement provided to the P&J, his team said that “none of us can make sense of what has happened” and that everyone has been left “devastated”.
They added that the 19-year-old passed away from “suspected heart failure” after enjoying a completely normal day.
“On Friday Cal spent the day in Edinburgh with fellow students and Kingussie team mates, going to the gym and then going to watch Edinburgh Rugby,” the club explained.
“A couple of pints on the way home and then up early on Saturday morning to go to play shinty for Edinburgh Uni against Aberdeen Uni.
“That was Cal, living life at full throttle but always with that big beautiful smile on his face.”
Talented sportsman was in his prime
Just a few weeks ago the team lifted the 2023 Mowi Premiership trophy following their 3-1 derby day win over Newtonmore at the Dell on November 5.
The youngster made the first team earlier than the club expected, putting in a series of “rampaging performances” at wing centre and the forward line.
He excelled so much that the club’s coaches had picked him as winner of the ‘Young Player of the Year Award’.
He was due to receive the award a week on Saturday.
Kingussie shinty player was “naturally gifted” yet “hardworking”
As well as showing dedication on the field, Calum was also a committed member of the club behind the scenes, even refereeing kid’s games on a Sunday morning.
A few weeks ago he travelled back home north to take part in a ‘Lap of Honour’ for Donnie Grant, a club great who recently died.
The club explained: “All past and present players were asked to attend but it was a week day and perfectly understandable if some who worked or studied outside the area couldn’t make it.
“But Cal Mac was there, up the road from Edinburgh, suited and booted in club blazer and tie and in the line up for Donnie.
“Calum just knew what the ‘right thing’ was in all situations.
“His determination and character shone through in all parts of his life but despite these successes, what stood out most about Cal was his kindness, his friendliness, his care of others and above all his huge sense of fun and love of life.
“He was great company, a role model and one of life’s genuinely nice people.”
His club also said the shinty player was “naturally gifted academically”.
He was Dux (the top pupil) of Grantown Grammar in 2021 and was in his second year of a law course at Napier University, Edinburgh.
The club continued: “Although Cal was naturally gifted academically and on the sports field, his teachers tell of how hard working he was and that he always strived to do his best.”
Rival shinty clubs: “A massively popular and talented player”
Tributes have been pouring in for Calum, with rival shinty clubs passing on their condolences, including his former team Strathspey Camanachd Club and Aberdour Shinty Club.
Strathspey wrote on Facebook that they were “shocked and heartbroken” to learn of the news, describing Calum as “a massively popular and talented player… but also a wonderful human being”.
Aberdour said: “We have members at Aberdour who had the privilege of knowing Calum and the events of the weekend have truly rocked us all.
“Nobody can imagine the suffering being endured by Calum’s family, all that knew him as a teammate, and those he called friends. There will be a time for words. That time isn’t now. The moments now are about grief, allowing time and silence to help mend broken hearts.”
Calum will never be forgotten
Calum was born in March 2004 and attended Carrbridge Primary School and Grantown Grammar School.
His mother Ann is a teacher at Grantown Grammar and his father Iain is a teacher at Kingussie High. He has two brothers, Alan and Ewan.
Kingussie Camanachd Club said they were sending their thoughts to Calum’s family.
They said: “None of us can make sense of what has happened, we are all devastated. We can’t begin to imagine the pain for Iain, Ann and his brothers and all our thoughts are with them.
“We love you Cal Mac — we will never understand how this could happen but whatever this team and this club does in the future we will carry you with us.
“Forever a boy of The Dell.”