Michelle Karras is used to cheering on her two sons during soccer matches.
Last week was no different – she still cheered for both of them, but only one took to the field.
Her son Thomas Karras, 15, died in February this year after being struck by a passenger train while trying to rescue a friend’s dog.
He often took to the soccer pitch alongside his brother Patrick for the Wimmera South Coast Eagles.
A day after Thomas died, Patrick somehow found the courage to play in his brother’s honour.
Now, the Best and Fairest award for the St Pat’s First XI Soccer team will be named the Thomas Karras Trophy in honour of the fallen student and soccer enthusiast.
Arthur and Michelle Karras watched their son’s good friend and St Pat’s team captain Jakob McDowell win the inaugural Thomas Karras trophy.
Patrick Karras, who plays in the same team, missed out on his brother’s memorial award by just one vote.
Mrs Karras said she was thrilled the school had decided to name the award after her son.
“We’re incredibly proud and incredibly humbled to have Thomas’ name on the trophy,” she said.
“Thomas loved life, he loved sport, he loved his mates and he loved soccer – this is a huge honour for us.
“He was certainly a larger-than-life character.”
Mrs Karras said she was particularly proud of Patrick, who considered not playing this season after his brother’s death.
“We could not be more proud of the way Patrick has handled himself with everything, especially soccer.
“That day (after Thomas died), we called the coach to say (Patrick) wouldn’t be playing, but Patrick said he wanted to because it is what Thomas would have wanted.”
The family also paid tribute to St Patricks College staff and students, saying the death had affected the whole school community.
“Thomas was a proud St Paddy’s boy and he would have loved more than anything to play in that team,” she said.
“It’s bittersweet not to have him here but we’re so proud that his name is on the trophy.”
The presentation was made after St Pat’s beat Ballarat and Clarendon College in the Ballarat Associated Schools soccer grand final.