FAIRBANKS, Alaska - In this week's Beyond the Scoreboard we pay tribute to the man known as Mark Peterson.
"It's not surprising, his heart and soul were North Pole. And he loved his community and family and friends. Donated money to help through his business. The outpouring of support at the service was pretty neat, 5 or 600 people and you couldn't fit anyone else in there so it was pretty neat," said Eric Young, a close friend of Mark Peterson.
Big Hands 44, the nickname that was given to Mark Peterson was more than just a name for sports.
He had a hand in everything, from athletics to owning Bad 2 Da Bone BBQ, to being there for his North Pole Community.
Mark was everywhere, and he had more than big hands, he had a big heart.
"We talked about playing hard for him. He put in four big years for North Pole we just wanted to show that we appreciated him and his family still supports us. It's a shame we put up 45 points and he wears 44, but before that he wore 45 so there's something in that," said Travis Church, Head Coach – North Pole Patriots.
"He loved his boys and we did a lot of family stuff together with him too. He told me once that he was proud of me for being a father and I was like Mark I am proud of you, you know. He took it to it like it was nothing. He did everything for those boys. You know I grew up with Mark, I moved to North Pole in the third grade. It's great to be friends with someone that long. We continued on through junior middle school and high school, college and our families are friends and we played sports," said Young.
This past weekend was the Celebration of Life for the man who meant so much to the North Pole community and to the Interior as well.
On January 5, Mark passed away bringing people to memories they had of the big man.
From the time they played basketball for the North Pole Patriots in the late 80's to where he took his talents in football to play for Dixie State in St. George, Utah.
His biggest highlight was scoring a two point conversion in the Rotary Bowl falling on a blocked PAT.
But it's the impact he made on the North Pole courts that are remembered the most.
"After a while I took it for granted. That guy was an unstoppable force. At a young age all through sports, Football, Basketball, and Wrestling all through junior high and high school and he took it to college and was dominant there. You know, I got to play basketball with him most of that time and I’d never seen a big guy like that that was that athletic and could move like him, and that was in Football and basketball. You talk to people in Fairbanks that played against him and with him and they’ll say the same thing. Once he got the ball on the post you might as well go back and play defense," said Young.
Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, "The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living."
And that is true about Mark.
Even though he isn't back there making BBQ or promoting sports and providing for banquets, the man's legacy lives on in the people he touched.
And while the pain is still fresh and will take time to heal, we all can rest easy knowing this man loved his community and the community loved him back.
"Man, I’m getting choked up just thinking about him right now. He just loved people, that’s what I said at the service, that he loves his community, he loves people, loves his friends, and most importantly he loves his family and he’d do anything for them," said Young.