UNIVERSITY PARK — The Penn State men’s soccer team’s clash with No. 5 California on Friday night will be “Mack Brady Night” at Jeffrey Field, honoring the life of young goalkeeper Mack Brady who passed away suddenly eight months ago.
On Dec. 31, 2012, 8-year old John William McKenzie “Mack” Brady died unexpectedly from a severe bacterial infection. The son of Christian Brady, dean of the Penn State Schreyer Honors College, and Elizabeth Brady, a Penn State faculty member, Mack Brady was an avid soccer player with the goal to one day be the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.
After Mack’s tragic death, a scholarship fund was created in his honor. The “Mack Brady Memorial Men’s Soccer Fund” was established in early 2013 to benefit the Penn State’s men’s soccer team, including “recruitment, equipment, scholarships and other needs.”
Christian Brady spoke Thursday about the game and his late son, expressing his deep gratitude to the team — especially the young players.
“They’ve been incredible,” Christian Brady said. “They’ve gone out of their way to make myself, Elizabeth, and our daughter Izzy feel a part of things and feel welcome. I know its a lot for undergraduates. Plenty of adults and family members don’t know how to respond to us. How do you talk to somebody who just lost their child? I can’t say enough about the character of these men — and the women’s soccer team.”
According to Brady, more than 1,000 people have donated over $143,000 over the past eight months. Brady says he hopes to break $150,000 by the end of the weekend, with a goal of $300,000 in 2016 — Mack’s 12th birthday.
“While we’re excited and pleased to be able to remember Mack, we also really wanted to do something for (Penn State soccer),” Brady said. “Mack and I would come to these games, and they deserve a lot of recognition and a lot of support. I think with the support of this fund, we really can make this ‘Goalkeeper U.’”
Penn State (2-2) has had strong play from its goalkeepers this season, having not allowed a goal at home in the last 200 minutes of game action.
Nittany Lion players will be wearing a ceremonial patch with Mack’s name and number on the back of their jerseys Friday night, a touching gesture that Brady believes will keep Mack’s legacy alive.
“Mack really did talk about playing out on that field, and he said he wanted to play goalie for the men’s national team,” Brady said. “And with the patches on the backs of the players, he really is able to play out there with these guys. I really like the imagery of the patch on the back of the players. A goalkeeper always has their teammates’ back.”