Women’s soccer head coach gives back to Newtown

Kerry Healy

Quinnipiac women’s soccer head coach Dave Clarke wanted to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and bring together not just the state of Connecticut, but the entire world. He wanted to do something that could help the future and make a difference not just one night, but forever.

“Like most Connecticut residents, I wanted to do something in the aftermath of the shooting to help the victims and the survivors, but coming up with an appropriate activity was difficult,” Clarke said.

Clarke’s vision became a reality when he spoke to his daughter, Aine, one night and now he and the women’s soccer team will auction off soccer jerseys with the number 26 on them in honor of the 26 victims that died in the shooting. The jerseys will also have Sandy Hook on the back instead of a player’s last name. Jerseys will be signed by the players from the specific team they came from.
[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy Quinnipiac soccer” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
“I wanted to come up with an idea that could be sustained in future years, involve the team, our former players, the sport itself and, most importantly, honor the memory of one of the victims, Rachel D’Avino, whose cousin Lauren Carmody played for me at Quinnipiac,” Clarke explained.

D’Avino was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary school and was killed during the shooting. She was also a cousin of one of Clarke’s former captains, Lauren Carmody-Grenier, who graduated in 2002. The money raised will go toward a scholarship in honor of D’Avino.
Not only are teams from the United States taking part in the auction, but the initiative has made its way across the world.

“The response from the clubs has been tremendous with only a couple of notable exceptions,” Clarke said. “Most clubs were eager to donate a shirt directly or through mutual contacts. The emails and letters from the clubs have struck a somber note, especially from the likes of Liverpool FC, which suffered its own tragedy in 1989 when 96 of their fans were killed in the Hillsborough disaster.”

In an interview with NBC Connecticut, Clarke said the Dec. 14 tragedy affected those around the world, and because soccer is a “global game,” he thought this could be something he could do to help.

Bidding on the jerseys will start at $26 and were collected through February and the beginning of March. Bidding will begin on March 14, according to the auction website.
Clarke isn’t the only one getting involved from the soccer team. He has his players helping throughout the process.

“Aine McKeever and Tori Graessle are directly involved and helping with inventory and editing the website,” Clarke responded. “The others are helping to promote via social media.”

This is also not the first time the soccer program at Quinnipiac reached out to help Sandy Hook. Quinnipiac men’s soccer head coach, Eric Da Costa, helped organize Soccer Night in Newtown which grew to become a large event that took place in early January, hosting famous soccer players from around the United States and open to only residents of Newtown.

Similar to how the event in Newtown gained more publicity with time, Clarke’s #26 Sandy Hook soccer shirt auction is doing the same.

The most recent jerseys listed on the website are signed Manchester United and USA Men’s National team jerseys, as well as an Argentina National team jersey with an autograph of the biggest name in soccer right now, Lionel Messi.