Kaden Henderson and Ruby Baker took turns trying to score on each other.
Two orange cones made up the makeshift goal that they rotated in and out of as they explored their new interest — soccer.
Kaden and Ruby, both 5, were two of about 90 children who took part in a free soccer clinic Sunday before the second annual Mack Brady soccer game at Jeffrey Field between Penn State and Ohio State. Mack was 8 when he unexpectedly died from a blood infection on New Year’s Eve 2012. Parents of the Penn State men’s soccer team decided to sponsor an annual event in his memory.
Penn State defeated Ohio State 1-0.
Kaden and Ruby, like Mack, got their starts in soccer under the guidance of Soccer Shots, a youth development soccer company that ran the clinic. Mack learned to play soccer with Soccer Shots before playing on local teams.
“I love it more than anything in the world,” Ruby said. “I want to play it.”
Eric Wales, director of Soccer Shots in State College, said the clinic was a chance for children to learn to love the sport the way Mack did. Wales’ son, Ryan, 11, played with Brady on several teams.
“We think this is a great opportunity for these kids to get into soccer and learn some of the basic fundamentals,” Wales said.
Proceeds from the event and its raffles went toward the Mack Brady Soccer Fund, which will be used toward a men’s team goalkeeper scholarship and facilities. The pregame soccer clinic and a barbecue were new to the game this year.
“Dean Brady and Mack supported the soccer team so much,” said Judy Falk, mother of redshirt junior defender Randy Falk. “They were always very visible, so we wanted to honor him and keep Brady’s name alive. We thought the football team has Linebacker U, so why not have Goalkeeper U for the soccer team? We want to start a goalkeeper scholarship and fund a state of the art facility for goalkeeper training.”
Christian Brady, Mack’s father and dean of Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College. said Mack dreamed of playing goalkeeper for Penn State, the USA and professionally.
“We would go to all the men’s and women’s games to see them play,” Brady said. “He had a lot of dreams about what he would do, and he was really dedicated. I don’t know how he would have turned out as a goalie, but he was really determined to be great.”
Mack’s former teammates from the State College Celtics helped coach children during the clinic.
Alex Stout, 10, recalled how good Mack was in net.
“Goalie was his favorite position,” Stout said. “He was really tall, and that’s why he was so good.”
Alex and John Cobes, 10, showed the No. 7 patches the Celtics now wear on their black and green jerseys in memory of Mack.
“We wear a patch now, because that’s his number and no one else wears No. 7,” John said. “It’s retired.”
John showed younger children, like Stella Pruss, 3, how to dribble.
“She’s having a blast,” Stella’s mother, Amanda, said. “Maybe it’s the start of something.”