Thursday morning, the Buffalo Beauts announced a new award honoring the memory of one of their most dedicated fans.
The Deb Cresanti Award, introduced via social media and press release by general manage Nate Oliver, will presented to the Beauts player who does the most to be involved in the Western New York community. Its namesake passed away unexpectedly in February shortly after the truncated season in Lake Placid, sending shockwaves throughout the Beauts’ fan community.
In memory of our good friend @sponge444, the #Beauts have established the Debra A. Cresanti Memorial Award, which will be awarded annually.— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) May 4, 2021
We really miss you, Deb
: https://t.co/ZzAGteUUII#FortBeaut #NWHL pic.twitter.com/Q3goRygfdp
“The news of Deb’s passing came as a sudden shock to our entire organization and left many of us heartbroken,” said Oliver via press release. “I had just spoken to Deb days prior, as she had asked me to send a photo of her own cardboard cutout in the stands [at Lake Placid]. There is no replacing someone like her and what she meant to our team.”
Getting real for a second, I got to know some of the Beauts’ superfans over the last full season at Northtown Center, Deb and her partner Heidi being two of them. Deb was always sweet and lively, ready with a smile and a hello whether we ran into each other at a game or sitting in the stands to watch a late-night practice (which they rarely if ever missed). She and Heidi would hang banners at the rink and call out encouragement to each player who came near, even providing the team with goodies for road trips and pizza post-home games. And after games, we would usually joke and chat on our way out the doors, always wishing each other well till the next matchup. I was so grateful, as someone who had missed a full season of Beauts hockey, to be welcomed into the fold in Amherst with such enthusiasm.
The love and commitment Deb had to Beauts hockey was undeniable, one that stayed with her till the very end. It’s rare in professional hockey to see a fan have such a deep, personal connection with an organization, its staff and players, and she did. That speaks volumes to who she was in life, as much as it does how she will be remembered in passing.
This award is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person, and the Beaut who earns this honor should and likely will handle it with pride. At the end of 2021-22, when it is presented, there’s likely not to be a whole lot of dry eyes in the house.