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Former players, family and friends remember Williams’ Matt Stauffer

WILLIAMSTOWN – Those familiar with the Williams College soccer program know of “Humble” Mike Russo and his 33 seasons as head coach of the Ephs’ program, including the 1995 National Championship.

Some might not know of the truly enduring spirit behind that ring, of one Matt Stauffer.

Stauffer was a senior captain on that team, who was diagnosed with cancer before passing away at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston 15 years ago.

On Jan. 12, members of the current Williams team, former players and friends, along with Matt’s two sisters, Emily and Hannah, returned to the Matt Stauffer Memorial Rock atop of Cole Field to remember one of the fittest and strongest men of the Williams soccer program.

“It is very special to our family,” said his sister Emily Keenan. “This is a place he loved – where he did his best and made friends for life.”

Often, 15-20 former friends and players return on this “homecoming” type of weekend to watch a Williams basketball game and reconnect with a group of friends who earned a national title, but more importantly, they reconnect to honor and be reminded of the qualities and life of Stauffer.

“Really Matt made connections on a personal level that helped us in our lives,” said former player Steve Ginsburg. “Days or weeks don’t go by where we don’t think about him and who we would have become – and his impact on us was to live and take full advantage of our time with family and friends, and take risks.”

The ceremony at the Rock, where former player Brian Greenfield called a celebration, former players, current players and family came together to listen to Coach Russo talk about Matt’s “indomitable” spirit that carries on as both the men’s and women’s teams pay homage to Matt before every home game.

Matt’s other sister, Hannah, a former soccer player at Williams, thanked all who attended for bringing Matt’s soccer family closer together and reminding her the importance of the Williams brotherhood.

“What makes it special for Hannah and I is when we get together with these guys we get to see what Matt might have been,” Keenan said. “We see all these great guys and their kids and in many ways they have become big brothers to us.”

A lasting memory of Matt by former player Brian Greenfield was made on their trip to Ireland, as Matt was known for being the fittest member of the Ephs that season.

“Right before he got sick, we had a trip to Ireland and we were assisted by one of their national coaches – and this coach couldn’t believe when Matt could run like he did. He would say, ‘Calm down, you are going to run out of energy.’ The coach couldn’t believe him,” Greenfield said.

As a senior captain, Matt went on to battle his disease while his team won a national title. Yet the title was never mentioned during the ceremony, instead the sentiment centered around the love former players and current soccer players had for each other as they remembered Matt Stauffer.

“It’s a testament to Matt and the friendships he forged,” said Keenan.

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Posted by on January 17, 2013. Filed under College Sports,Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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