The head soccer coaches from West Hartford’s Conard and Hall high schools, as well as several players, helped raise funds and awareness by shaving their heads as part of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Coaches United Against Cancer event.
By Ronni Newton
The Conard and Hall high school boys soccer coaches and players put any thoughts of rivalry aside Tuesday afternoon, and instead teamed up to fight childhood cancer.
Players and coaches from both teams participated in the Coaches United Against Cancer event for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds research into cures for childhood cancer, and have newly-shaved heads to show for it.
Conard coach Adam Linker said this is the second time he and his players – and his 9-year-old son, Jeremy – have taken part in the Coaches United Against Cancer fundraiser, which is organized by Jon Cohn, the varsity boys soccer coach at Bloomfield High School.
Employees of Sport Clips did the head shaving for the event, which took place at Brew Sport in the Exchange Building in Farmington.
“Two years ago it was a big deal for us because of our player,” Linker said. Seamus Turco, then a senior at Conard, was battling cancer. Although Turco – who is now healthy and a student at Middlebury College – was unable to play his final season, he remained an honorary member of the team, which banded together and held several fundraisers in addition to supporting Coaches United Against Cancer.
Linker said that many players couldn’t make it to the after school event on Tuesday because they are already involved with spring sports practices, but he’s hoping next year to hold it in the fall, during the soccer season. Many of those who couldn’t attend helped out in other ways, he said.
“I said to [Hall soccer coach] Zeke [Seguro] that we should do this together, maybe before our last game,” Linker said. “It would all be in the spirit of togetherness, and we could have a combined pasta dinner.”
Linker has never been a fan of his players getting crazy haircuts and dying their hair the night before the last Conard vs. Hall game of the season, something that has been a long-standing tradition on both teams. Getting their heads shaved, for a good cause, would make a better statement.
“It was really personal and close to home for many on our team [two years ago],” Linker said, but few remain untouched by cancer. “There are always friends, family, colleagues, always a story that touches you,” he said. His father-in-law is a cancer survivor.
This year childhood cancer hits close to home for the Hall community, which has come together for several fundraisers in support of Abby Zittoun, the 6-year-old daughter of Principal Dan Zittoun, who is currently undergoing treatment. To date Hall boys soccer has raised $4,083 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. As a whole, Coaches United Against Cancer has raised $25,735 so far this year, the majority of which will go directly to research, Linker said.
“It’s a small thing for us to do, be we want to help any way we can, and this is the right thing,” Linker said. “It’s a good thing to do. We need to keep doing it.”
Coaches United Against Cancer is still accepting donations. To donate, click here.
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