Friends of Ethan Fabian describe the young man as kind and gentle and quick to smile — the kind of person who, after pinning his opponent in wrestling, would immediately try to cheer up that opponent.
“He had such a big heart,” said Jack Vaselaar, who attends Cotter High School and co-captains the Winona Senior High School wrestling team. “He was always smiling. Never had a bad face on him.”
Ethan, 17, was struck by a vehicle Tuesday while riding his bike on East Lake Boulevard. He would have been a senior at Winona High this fall.
People who knew Ethan — whether it’s his coaches, his teammates or his brothers — cannot talk about him without mentioning his smile.
Joe Hoialmen, assistant wrestling coach, said he would even be grinning while running sprints around the high school cafeteria — while most of the guys were red-faced and sucking wind.
“He’d go up and down the stairs like a bat out of hell,” Hoialmen said. “He’d take a break, and then he’d be running like a bat out of hell again.”
Ethan and his brothers bonded through wrestling, often going up against one another at practice.
When Eli or Evann would pin their older brother, Ethan would take a couple minutes to blow off steam. Then he’d be back out on the mat, ready for a rematch.
“And we’d pin him again,” Evann joked.
The Fabian boys say their loss hasn’t fully set in — they half-expect to turn a corner and see Ethan standing there.
Ethan loved to draw superheroes and characters from Dragon Ball Z, his brothers say. He also loved the Minnesota Twins, video games and riding his bike.
“He was always on his bike,” Evann said. “I’m not sure where he went. He’d just go to friends’ houses.”
People could expect to see Ethan riding around town, coaching youth wrestling or working at Hy-Vee.
You have free articles remaining.
Jack’s mother often bumped into Ethan at the store, and he would usually call her over to go through his aisle.
“She always looked forward to seeing him,” Jack said. “People noticed his heart.”
The detail about him cheering up his wrestling opponents is no exaggeration, no platitude.
Matt Drazkowski, head wrestling coach, said he saw Ethan do it time and time again.
“He’d pin the guy, and there would be a moment when he was just elated,” Drazkowski said. “Then he’d remember the other guy, and he’d go over and say: ‘Don’t feel bad. Don’t feel bad. You wrestled great.’
“Ethan never wanted anyone to feel as bad as he felt when he would lose a match.”
His brothers say that kindness, that sense of compassion, carried over to their brotherly fights.
Even when Ethan would feud with one of his brothers, he never lost sight of the fact that he loved them.
“He loved everybody,” Eli said. “No matter what.”
A visitation for Ethan is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, at Hoff Celebration of Life Center.
The Fabian family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover funeral expenses.
Critter Creations, an antler art business run by the boys’ uncle, is also auctioning off pieces — everything from antler wine racks to antler crosses — and giving all proceeds to the Fabians.
The auctions are conducted on Facebook, and will run for another week.