Marcus Tracy joined more than 50 U.S. soccer stars, including 40 current MLS players, for the “Soccer Night in Newtown” event held at the Newtown Youth Academy Sports & Fitness Center on Monday, Jan. 7. The event aimed to aid the greater Newtown community in the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 26 dead.
Tracy, who hails from Newtown and whose mother at one time taught at Sandy Hook Elementary, signed autographs and spoke with families attending the event. Current MLS players such as Landon Donovan, Brian Ching, and Kenny Cooper joined former U.S. stars Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Mia Hamm, and Kristine Lilly on Monday evening.
“That’s what it’s all about – seeing these young kids come out here and have fun, smile,” said Tracy. “Taking their minds off what’s transpired over the last few weeks, and restore some sense of normalcy in the healing.”
The idea for the event stemmed from Connecticut native and Houston Dynamo President, Chris Canetti. Canetti, who graduated from Quinnipiac, was stunned by the events at Sandy Hook and was seeking a way to help the victims.
“I’m no different than any other American who on the weekend of the tragedy sat around my house terribly saddened and shocked,” Canetti said. “I just kept wondering, ‘What can we do?’ On a whim that next Monday morning driving into work I picked up my cell phone and called Eric De Costa.”
De Costa, the head coach of Quinnipiac, and Canetti outlined what came to be “Soccer Night in Newtown.” The event was instantly embraced by the greater US Soccer community who were eager to help.
“To think we could get 40 players in the offseason to come from all over the U.S. and come here to try to brighten the day of some families who’ve been through some terrible, tragic times,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “The kids are having a good time. Our players are having a good time. This is what I love about MLS. It’s what makes me the proudest. I wouldn’t compare our players to any players in any sport here or abroad.”