New Haven athletes reach out to Sandy Hook students

The tragedy that struck Newtown, Connecticut is something that has not only shaken a community to its core, but has drawn the eyes of the nation to the small town.UNewHaven30total

Of all the eyes directed towards Newtown, so many have stepped forward to offer their thoughts, prayers and support for the grieving community. Thirty of those individuals offering their support made the short drive down from New Haven to find out exactly what they could to.

The University of New Haven lacrosse and hockey teams put together plans to send a group of players and staff to Newtown to provide support for those in the community. After finalizing plans on Sunday evening, the group of 30 made the 45-minute drive to Newtown in order to spend some quality time with the students, staff and family members from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“One of the lacrosse coaches had coordinated with their team to head down there,” junior James Kiley said. “We have a very close relationship with the lacrosse team and we really wanted to help.

“This was around 10:00 last night and we quickly posted something on Facebook about getting some of the guys together. For a last minute plan, we managed to get 15 of the 26 players on the team.”

The 15 players joined 15 lacrosse players for the trip to the Newtown Youth Academy for the day. Of those who couldn’t attend, many had already gone home at the end of the semester, while others were obliged to take their final few exams for the fall semester. Many of the players sent out last-minute emails to their professors hoping to be excused for the trip and many of the teachers obliged – no small concession during exam week.

The visit was spent with students from various grade levels from Sandy Hook playing games and reading stories together. The time was spent to allow the children to have some fun and to provide an outlet from what was such a horrible tragedy.

“It was a fun time and the event went very well,” Kiley said. “Everyone appeared to be very grateful that we were there and we were overwhelmed by the support the 30 guys received.”

Sandy Hook’s students and administrators weren’t the only ones able to use the New Haven athletes as an outlet; parents from the community were also present during the day. As Kiley described, the players were able to spend time speaking with various parents on a number of different topics in hopes of keeping their spirits up and their focus elsewhere if even for a short period of time.

While the media presence remains significant, Kiley mentioned that what he and his teammates offered did not go unnoticed. In fact, the Newtown Youth Academy director made sure to express his gratitude and exactly what the visit meant for the students and parents.

For the New Haven hockey team, their connection will not end with yesterday’s trip. While plans are still coming together, they expect to host a memorial fundraiser for the victims and families of Newtown.

Of course, the weight of what has transpired in Newtown continues to hang over the Nation’s collective conscious. For a team that resides so close, the sentiment has not been lost on the very players who came to Newtown looking to help. That was unchanged after the day transpired.

“For me, it was sad knowing that the kids know what happened yet not really realizing exactly what it all means,” Kiley said. “We were all moved by what we were able to do today and I was personally honored to have been a part of it. I can’t begin to explain how honored and proud I am of my team and the lacrosse team.”

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