Kevin Szafranski -- baseball player and fan of country music -- was always smiling. Ask his Penn State Abington baseball coach, Joe Pavlow: “Kevin always had a smile on his face.”
Szafranski’s friend and Abington teammate Patrick Moran elaborated: “Kevin was always smiling. And I mean, all the time. Even if he was having a rough game or complaining, he was smiling. I will never forget his smile. I don’t think anyone could -- his smile was truly one of a kind.”
Szafranski, 23, died suddenly in his sleep last month, and his friends and teammates at Abington are struggling to process their loss and honor his memory.
“It’s still a shock to me that he is no longer with us, but he will certainly live on in everyone that knew him," said Moran, a junior majoring in biology. "Our team will be playing with heavy hearts this year. We are dedicating this season to him."
“Kevin was a well-liked member of the Penn State Abington community,” said Karen Weaver, director of athletics at Abington. "All of us in the Abington family were shocked and saddened to hear of his passing. Our thoughts are with Kevin's family, and we mourn his loss with them."
Szafranski, an outfielder who lived in Bucks County, graduated from Abington in May with a bachelor’s degree in business. He was a member of the 2011 baseball team that won the regular season North East Athletic Conference (NEAC). The team was the runner-up in the NEAC West baseball championships. He also earned a place on the Director's List in the fall 2010, which honors student athletes who earn at least a 3.0 GPA.
“Kevin was a force, and he was passionate. He loved Philadelphia sports teams and country music,” Pavlow said. “The baseball team took it hard. We have a family atmosphere and we all came together.”
Pavlow said nearly 40 current and former players attended Kevin’s funeral.