A maple tree was planted and a dedication ceremony was held Friday for a University of Saint Mary football player who died this spring during practice.

“He’s always going to be here – forever,” USM football coach Jay Osborne said of Christian Yanos.

Yanos, a lineman from La Mirada, California, died on the field during a non-contact drill during a spring football practice March 1. He was 21.

Members of Yanos’ family and a large group of USM athletes, coaches, staff and administrators attended the ceremony at Charles Berkel Memorial Stadium on campus.

The tree has been planted in the grassy area just south of the stadium.

Several members of Yanos’ family, USM coaches and administrators as well as football players and friends addressed the crowd during the dedication ceremony.

University President Sister Diane Steele blessed the tree with water and invited those in the audience to do the same.

Yanos wore uniform No. 66, and special T-shirts were made for the event. Many people at the ceremony wore the T-shirt.

Several members of Yanos’ family came to Leavenworth for the weekend, including his mother, Marlene.

“We do one day at a time,” said Marlene Yanos, who said her husband died three years ago.

Marlene Yanos said her family feels thankful for the support shown by the USM football program and the entire university.

“Once a Spire, always a Spire,” she said. “It’s family and they mean it. They have shown what family is all about. It has been unbelievable the kind of love everyone has shown us.”

Osborne said Friday’s ceremony helped bring closure to Yanos’ death.

He said the team is still dealing with the sudden death of one of their players.

“But overall, the players are in a good place mentally,” he said.