“Welcome to the club.”
It’s the first message that greets you upon visiting The Dad, a nod of acknowledgment that may seem like little more than a cool tagline – that is, until you realize what being a member of the club actually means. Being a dad is an experience like no other. It’s beautiful and stressful and exciting and exhausting all at once. It comes with challenges that only other dads can understand. Being a member of the club means being surrounded by people like you, and people very unlike you – but with one important thing in common: fatherhood. It doesn’t take long to realize just how deeply members of The Dad community care for each other, and that level of support extends far beyond things strictly related to fatherhood. When a member of our community celebrates, we all celebrate. If one of us needs help, the response is so enormous it’s almost deafening. And when we experience a tragedy, we mourn together.
On October 7, one of our own tragically passed away. RJ Barry was a father, gamer, and a valuable member of The Dad Gaming’s Rocket League community. RJ loved playing Rocket League and Call of Duty, racing 4 wheelers, skateboarding, but most importantly, the 29-year-old loved his friends and family. Particularly, his daughter Vivian.
The loss of RJ hit The Dad’s gaming community hard – RJ had been an active member of The Dad’s Rocket League group since February, participating in weekly Tuesday game nights and befriending dads around the world. RJ was a skilled gamer, regularly making the playoffs and winning tournaments. But more importantly, RJ was a great friend and an amazing dad.
Jon Melo was just one dad who RJ befriended through The Dad’s Rocket League group, as the two dads played regularly on the same team (and somehow, lost regularly on the same team). Of course, the one week the two separated, both made the semi-finals before RJ’s team went on to win the tournament. “We always said we’re going to win it together,” Melo recalled.
“Honestly I can’t say enough about him,” Melo said. “He just was such an easy-going person and always there to listen to you if you needed someone. A lot of dads on here would say he was one loving outgoing fun guy to play with and was always positive.”
But for gamer friends and non-gamer friends of RJ, there was one constant: “That man loves his daughter and he would do anything for her,” Melo concluded.
The loss of RJ left gamer dads near and far both shocked and saddened. But with the enormous grief that came with the RJ’s passing came something beautiful – a community coming together to mourn and celebrate the life of a friend.
A post shared by Garrett Van Ginkel, The Dad Gaming – Rocket League’s admin highlighted the true nature of what it means to be a member of “The Club.” It’s about far more than gaming and memes – it’s about having a place to celebrate life’s wins and grieve life’s losses, and never having to do either alone.
Garrett’s touching post explained how after RJ’s passing, members of the community came together to honor their fallen teammate. Together, the group came up with ideas to honor RJ, who played by the name Tartarus. “We will be holding a 1 minute moment of silence at kick off of the first round of play,” Garrett explained.
“During the moment of silence, each team of 3 loaded in with only 2 players to symbolize that we were all missing a player,” Garrett told The Dad.
And silently, beautifully, the incomplete teams paid their respects.
“We are permanently retiring Team 21,” Garrett continued. “It was a common team for him to be on due to his rank, and it was the last team he played for in our tournaments. Moving forward, it will be known as Team Tartarus.”
Watch the moment of silence:
The group even moved their efforts outside the confines of the internet. Garrett explained, “I have set up a PayPal account to take donations for his daughter Vivian and his family. We will be promoting it on stream during the tournament, and have it displayed on the overlays so anyone that tunes in will see it. Once all donations are in, I will personally write a check to his family for the full amount in the PayPal account. The email address to donate is: [email protected]”
As dads, we want nothing more than to be there for our kids, to take care of them. In RJ’s memory, the group is collecting money which will go to a trust in Vivian’s name. Though the trust will provide financial assistance to Vivian one day, it represents so much more than money – it’s emblematic of the true nature of being a dad. If there’s a problem, you try to fix it. If you can’t fix it, you do everything you can to help, and you do it with a whole lot of love.
RJ will be forever missed by both his friends and family, but he will always be remembered – and he will always be a member of The Club.