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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Friday, June 14, 2024
The Echo
Connor Phillips 2 - provided by Trenton Weber.jpeg

Honoring the life of Connor Phillips

Friends, coach share Connor’s character, impact

Humility.

A word truly embodied by few — a word that was truly embodied by the character of Connor Phillips.

“He was really one of the most humble guys I’ve ever met,” freshman Trenton Weber said.

Weber remembers meeting his roommate, Connor, on freshman move-in day at the beginning of this school year. 

He was instantly impressed by Connor’s quiet, go-with-the-flow demeanor.

“He didn’t impose his interests over anyone else's, which is a really cool thing,” Weber said. “He was always caring about what you wanted, and he might not voice his opinion always, even if he cared. He would just kind of go with what you wanted.”

One of Weber’s earliest memories with Connor was when their wing, Second West Wengatz played basketball together toward the beginning of the school year. 

It was then that he first noticed and appreciated Connor’s deep love and desire to invest in his community.

“He wanted to be around people, but did not need to be the center of attention,” senior Andew Siegelin said. “He was always happy to be in a room, and he would laugh at what was going on, but he never needed to pull it to himself.”

Siegelin also lives on Second West. 

He remembers his first interaction with Connor, relating with him over both being type 1 diabetic athletes.

“He and I kind of had a similar approach of like these are the cards we’ve been dealt, so work with them,” Siegelin said.

He and Connor were able to laugh together as they found common ground through similar circumstances.

Both Siegelin and Weber, along with Second West’s Personnel Assistant (PA) Cameron Turpin, appreciated and enjoyed Connor’s sense of humor.

“Connor was very low key, always had jokes, but rarely would say them,” Turpin said. “The type of person who you loved to have around, and every once in a while would make the whole room lose it.”

Turpin also admired how he valued and prioritized being present.

Connor repeatedly made an effort to be there for his friends, wingmates and teammates.

“Whether it was watching the guys play Mario Kart or being at bro/sis dinner, he was always there,” Turpin said. “If a friend asked him to be somewhere, he would in a heartbeat.”

Each morning, a group of men from Second West eat breakfast together. Siegelin recalls him and Connor being there almost every day.

He always looked forward to hearing about how lacrosse was going for Connor at breakfast. It was evident that he had a strong passion and love for the sport.

“Basically every day, he wouldn’t bring it up, but I would ask him and he was ready to talk about it [lacrosse],” Siegelin said.

Connor had been fighting for the goalie starting position on the lacrosse team and was progressively stepping closer to earning the spot.

Siegelin remembers him humbly saying that he was doing well at the sport, then talking to other guys on the team who would tell him how good Connor really was.

“The goalie is the eyes and the ears of the defense, and he definitely was that,” Men’s Lacrosse Coach Chad Newhard said. “He led by example, I mean, he put in a ton of work. His example was great. He was always doing something extra, always looking to get better.”

Newhard was also impressed with Connor’s ability to respond quickly on the field. The valued skills and characteristics he displayed were rare for a freshman in the sport.

Another of these characteristics Newhard noticed in him was confidence. He portrayed a quiet confidence and collectedness that made him a great teammate, both on and off the field.

“Something that’s important to us right now is that we honor his legacy through what we do,” Newhard said. “[Connor was a] committed teammate, follower of Christ, selfless, servant leader, willing to sacrifice for our team, humble, lead by example, a faithful teammate.”

Connor’s love for God was visible in all that he did.

As his roommate, Weber especially felt inspired by Connor’s faith and influence.

“I would wake up in the morning or just come back from class and he would just be reading his Bible on his bed quietly,” Weber said. “I mean, like, he definitely wanted that quiet space with God.”

Weber desires to honor Connor through his actions. 

He feels as though his faith is stronger because of their friendship.

“A lot of that is because that’s who Connor was,” Weber said. “He was a devoted Christian, and I just miss that influence, so I’m going to try to work my way up to be a similar man that he was.”

The loss of Connor Phillips has caused many on Taylor’s campus to think more deeply about life and relationships.

“The relationships that we build truly matter,” Newhard said. “You can never take a relationship for granted.”

“Every friendship feels that much more important now,” Siegelin said.

“When you realize that today could be the last time you get to see your brothers, it’s like a wakeup call,” Weber said. “You really want to build a deep relationship with the guys that you have.”

This desire for deeper relationships has sparked solidarity among the men on the lacrosse team and on Second West Wengatz.

Newhard explained how the lacrosse team has been able to come together and support one another as they navigate the loss of someone dear to them.

“It has made everyone on the wing cherish one another more,” Turpin said. “Every member of Second West is cared for by one another, but now after this loss, we make sure that it is known. Every day, we make an effort to tell each other we love them, and not taking moments for granted. It has made me be more intentional with the guys.”

Connor’s life has and will continue to impact those who knew him.

The Taylor community will dearly miss Connor: his humble spirit, selflessness, passion for lacrosse, love for God and desire to be in community with others.

“He loved it here,” Turpin said. “From what we knew as his friends and from his family, there is nowhere else Connor wanted to be for the last weeks of his life.