Driving through Newtown, CT, one is struck by the grim demeanor of a town still in the early stages of recovering from unspeakable tragedy. But when I stepped onto the turf field, the whole atmosphere changed. Led by pro MLL players sponsored by Warrior and Brine, the kids of Newtown were having a blast. They worked with coaches including Joel White, Ken Clausen, Matt Bocklet, Jeremy Sieverts, Steven Brooks, Geoff Snider, Scott Rodgers, Mark Millon, Justin Turri, and Eric Lusby. Working drills, shooting, each of those kids knew that they were experiencing something special. I spoke with Mark Millon, who told me that this event had come together in a very short period of time, which seemed hard to believe since it was run so smoothly.
Each player had traveled to come to Newtown as far away as Canada and Colorado, while some of the players had taken advantage of being close to Connecticut for the holiday. Before each round of clinics, each player discussed how glad they were to be there and how open to questions they were. They brought all of the kids out of their shells and created an atmosphere of fun and skill-honing. One child in front of me hid behind the mesh for a minute with his parents at the end, way too shy to ask a couple of the guys for their autograph, but when he was taken out there with his dad, the smile on his face stayed stuck on until he left. He was filled with so much joy playing with these guys, running around having fun, and it was so contagious that his enthusiasm brought smiles to the faces of everyone sitting on the sidelines.
This town is on a long road to recovery, but as long as these kids keep smiling like they were during these clinics, I have faith that they’ll be just fine.