Men’s Soccer To Honor Mack Brady on Sunday
This Sunday, the Penn State men’s soccer team will host Ohio State at Jeffrey Field. It’s an important game, pitting the Big Ten’s best two teams against each other for the conference’s top spot.
But the namesake of Sunday’s game is even more important than the matchup itself.
Sunday marks the annual Mack Brady Game, an event to honor Mack Brady, who died unexpectedly at eight years of age on the final day of 2012 due to a blood infection. A passionate soccer player who dreamed of playing both for Penn State and his country, his legacy will be honored throughout the game.
Since his tragic death, a soccer fund has been created to support Penn State goalkeepers — the same position that Mack played. Annual events with the men’s and women’s soccer programs, as well as the Philadelphia Union, further bring remembrance to the “vivacious, hysterical” boy.
The Mack Brady Memorial Men’s Soccer Fund is special in that it not only finances the Nittany Lion goalkeepers, but exists with an unheard of purpose — to make a college program an elite goalie training ground, explains Christian Brady, Mack’s father and Dean of the Schreyer Honors College.
“The purpose of the Mack Brady Soccer Fund is to make Penn State ‘Goalkeeper U,'” he said. “There is no other university that we know of that has decided to focus and bring all the best resources and techniques necessary for developing the next Tim Howard or Iker Casillas.”
The fund provides the best resourses and equipment for the keepers to succeed. In April, the team hired Michael Behonick to train the goalkeepers.
“Mack has inspired all of this,” said Brady.
And while the funds attributed to Mack’s memory aid the team, the support the soccer programs provide to Mack’s family and friends is just as important.
“It is incredibly humbling,” said Brady. “The team has taken us and Mack’s legacy into their hearts. The keepers wear the patch on their back just as Mack always had his team’s back. The team and coaches are incredible and have really become family.”
The men’s team isn’t the only one helping to support the cause. The women’s program also hosts a Mack Brady game, and a free soccer clinic is put on in his honor every January. On August 9, the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer supported Brady as five dollars of purchased tickets were donated to his fund. According to Brady, Zac MacMath, the Union’s goalkeeper, reached out to the family a week after Mack’s death to see how he could help.
As of November of last year, the fund had raised $150,000. By Mack’s 12th birthday — Jan. 17, 2016 — the goal is to have $300,000 raised.
“The Penn State community and the soccer community at large is incredible and incredibly generous,” said Brady. “What makes this even more special is that while there are many who have given very significant gifts, there are also hundreds of others including Mack’s friends and other children who have given to this fund. What a wonderful testimony of the love, support, and character of the Penn State community.”
On Sunday, numerous fundraisers before, during, and after the game will further support the fund. The team will also host a tailgate and an Under-6 minicamp before the game, as well as an Under-12 minicamp after the game. The Nittany Lions kick off at 1 p.m.
“We are slowly learning to live with the loss of Mack,” said Elizabeth Brady, Mack’s mom. “Being a part of great days like Sunday makes me feel close to him because he loved soccer and his friends so much. He was pure energy.”