January 8, 2013
Soccer Night in Newtown is an emotional time for Tracy
By Michael Lewis
|Marcus Tracy: "It's important to get people out here, get the kids out there, show them a good time again, sort of restore that sense of normalcy."
Photo by Joy Rubenstein
NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Marcus Tracy's first reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings were "shock and disbelief."
And for good reason. As a long-time resident of this western Connecticut town, the San Jose Earthquakes forward could not believe what had transpired
Tracy, a 2005 Newtown High School graduate, vividly remembers what transpired on the morning of Dec. 14. He had returned home during the Major League Soccer off-season.
"That morning I came down stairs and found out from my mom," he said. "She was watching the news and I was in the kitchen and cooking. She said there was a shooting in Newtown and immediately I went over to the couch and started to follow what was going on CNN. It was shock and disbelief."
Twenty-six people died, including 20 young children.
So, being a part of Soccer Night in Newtown on Monday was a no-brainer. When he learned that MLS was going to help host the event, Tracy said that "being from here, I was already home and obviously I had to be here to show my support.
"I was obviously deeply impacted by it. Nothing like the families obviously who had to suffer such great loss. This is my town. This is my home. It's great to see the response of the U.S. soccer community coming together because Newtown is and has always been a soccer town. It's important to get people out here, get the kids out there, show them a good time again, sort of restore that sense of normalcy and seeing them and go around the laugh."
Which many of the children did at the Newtown Youth Academy Sports and Fitness Center.
Needless to say it was an emotional day, for the children and adults of Newtown and the area, and even for Tracy.
"It has been emotional," he said. "I look at some of these kids who are at the same ages of some of the victims of the tragedy. It's just still shocking. It's unbelievable when you stop and think about it. The positive is the reaction of the community to come out here and MLS thinking to set this event up, knowing how it was going to be a positive impact on the people who live here.
"I think in general, kids want to have fun. They want to relax and be kids. A lot of them do look up to athletes as role models and I think for us to come here and spend time with them and let them have fun. It's just a perfect way to help them to heal and find a sense of normalcy in their lives.
The evening's highlight for Tracy'?
All the smiles by the children.
"Just seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they come up to you and talk to you and ask for an autograph, it’s just that are what it's all about -- helping the kids,” he said. “It's great to see that they're reacting the way we want them to react, that they were enjoying this experience."