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Soccer event celebrates life of Mack

by on January 16, 2014 8:27 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK — On a cold and damp winter evening, over 100 children came together to remember the life of Mack Brady.

And they did it by playing soccer.

Inside Holuba Hall at Penn State on Sunday night, the youngsters ran through cones, took shots on goal and practiced with the men's soccer squad at the Second annual Mack Brady Clinic. Mack died on Dec. 31, 2012 at the age of 8 as a result of a blood infection.

Mack's father, Christian Brady, dean of the Penn State Schreyer Honors College, took a moment to reflect on the past year.

“Last year, of course, it was just two weeks after Mack had passed. I think it was good for the community because the kids wanted a chance to show their support,” Brady said. “But it was just unbelievable for us to have so many people come out and to celebrate Mack in a way that a funeral can't quite.”

Last year's clinic was such a success, that the Penn State men's soccer team decided to do it again.

According to Penn State men's soccer coach Bob Warming, the event is special to him and his team.

“For our players, it's just a wonderful life lesson for our guys,” Warming said. “Every day is precious. Every day is precious and just go after it every day.”

So, on Sunday, music blared and children laughed as they bounced colorful soccer balls through Holuba Hall. The event was open to children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

It was a scene not unlike last year.

According to Brady, the event will happen every year.

“The coaching staffs of the men's and women's teams decided they wanted to make this an annual event, so it's going to be every January,” Brady said. “It's wonderful. I'll be honest, I was expecting 30 to 40 kids here, but we're over 100. It's just wonderful. If you love soccer, it's tough around here in the wintertime. It's nice to have an opportunity to get everyone together.”

There were youth soccer players from State College, Bellefonte, Altoona and Hollidaysburg at the clinic.

John Lundy, who coaches soccer in the Penn United Soccer Academy in State College, was impressed with the clinic and the turnout.

“I think everyone recognizes the hardship that the Brady family went through. Mack had a passion for the sport. He loved the game. I think that's what we're trying to teach these kids — just love the game,” Lundy said. “This is a great soccer community and everyone is out here to support it.”

Mack played goalie for his squad. With that in mind, Warming spent extra time on goalkeeping Sunday night. Those taking part in the clinic got to watch Penn State keeper Danny Sheerin dive over and onto mats in an effort to the ball out of the back of the net.

The children cheered and clapped to “pump up” Sheerin as he dove after countless shots on goal.

Warming was happy to see the children enjoying themselves.

“Anytime that you have kids playing a sport that they love, it's great … there's nothing wrong with that,” Warming said. “This is also a credit to the parents. To do one more training like this, it speaks volumes about them. They're committed to having their children have wonderful experiences.”

While the clinic was free of charge, those attending could make contributions to the Mack Brady Memorial Men's Soccer Fund, which funds scholarship for Penn State soccer players. At the end of last year, contributions had reached over $150,000.

“That's hundreds of people who have given,” Brady said. “There is no other scholarship like that at Penn State. Hundreds of people have given to the scholarship. It's humbling. There's no other word for it.”

As the event wrapped up Sunday night, Warming had some final thoughts.

“Every day should be a celebration. Every chance you get to play should be a celebration,” he said. “Every day is precious. Have as much fun as you can and get as good as you can because life is fragile.”

To support the fund, memorial gifts may be made online at http://givenow.psu.edu/MackBrady or by sending a check, payable to Penn State with “In memory of Mack Brady” in the memo line, to: Penn State University, One Old Main, University Park, PA 16802.



Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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