PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL and its member teams mourn the loss and express their condolences to the family and friends of ECHL linesman Ryan Birmingham, who was killed in a single-vehicle accident on Sunday while traveling from Chattanooga, Tenn. to Snellville, Ga.
“The ECHL has lost a respected and dedicated member of our officiating family, but more importantly a young man who was full of life has been taken from the Birmingham family far too early,” said ECHL Vice President of Hockey Operations Rod Pasma. “Ryan will be missed by not only the ECHL and our officiating staff, but by all the players, coaches, team personnel and fans who were fortunate enough to make his acquaintance this past season. Our sincerest condolences are extended to his father Roy, mother Theresa, brothers Jeff and James, sister Alivia and the entire Birmingham family.”
Affectionately known as “Big Birm”, he was born July 7, 1982 in Dearborn, Mich. and grew up in Southgate, Mich. where he attended school and played baseball with the City of Southgate Parks and Recreation.
Birmingham attended the University of Michigan-Dearborn for two years before transferring to Saginaw Valley State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration, playing club hockey at both schools.
He began his officiating career when he was 12 years old in the Southgate Minor Hockey Association and worked his way into the USA Hockey Junior Officiating Development Program in 2003. Birmingham, who wore number 60, was hired as a full-time linesman by the ECHL in 2006 and worked 83 games in the regular season and four games in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, including his final game, Texas at Gwinnett on Apr. 15.
Before being hired by the ECHL, Birmingham worked in the North American Hockey League, the United States Hockey League, the Central States Hockey League, the Southern Professional Hockey League, the Central Hockey League and the United Hockey League.
“Ryan was a joy to work with because he always came to the rink ready to work hard,” said veteran ECHL official David Jones, who spent a lot of time working with Birmingham during the season. “He really loved hanging out with the boys and we are all going to miss him.”
In addition to flexing his big muscles for everyone to see, Birmingham loved hockey, golf, baseball, hunting and fishing. The ultimate handyman he had the ability to fix anything and there wasn’t a job that was too big from houses to automobiles.
Birmingham is survived by his father Roy, mother Theresa, brothers Jeff and James, sister Alivia, stepmother Debbie, stepfather Steve, stepfather Ron, his paternal grandmothers and his girlfriend Teagan.
A memorial service will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at The Allen Park Chapel at the Martenson Family of Funeral Homes in Allen Park, Mich. with visitation on Thursday from 2:30-9 p.m. at The Allen Park Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made on behalf of Ryan Birmingham to:
USA Hockey Foundation
Attention: Bob Weldon
1775 Bob Johnson Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
P.O. Box 650309
Dallas, TX 75265-0309