Posted: Mon January 7, 2013 9:01PM; Updated: Mon January 7, 2013 9:01PM

Soccer stars visit Conn. town where kids were shot

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
Greta Staubly, Marcus Tracy,
Marcus Tracy, a native of Newtown, visits with 12-year-old Newtown soccer player Greta Staubly.
Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- The deadly shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School was personal for pro soccer star Marcus Tracy. He grew up in Newtown, and his mother once taught at the school.

The San Jose Earthquakes striker joined about 40 other current and former soccer players, including Landon Donovan, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone and Alexi Lalas, on Monday afternoon at the Newtown Youth Academy, playing soccer and signing autographs for children.

About 1,000 children attended the event, which was arranged by Houston Dynamo general manager and Connecticut native Chris Canetti.

Newtown, a community of about 27,000 people 60 miles northeast of New York City, has always been a soccer town, Tracy said.

"It was important to get the young kids out here and show them a good time again and sort of restore that sense of normalcy and see them smile and run around and laugh," he said.

Several sports stars, including New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, have travelled to Newtown in the weeks since a gunman killed his mother at home before going to Sandy Hook and killing 20 first-graders, six school administrators and then himself.

Resident Kara Gerace took her three elementary school-age children to the soccer event.

"It's been a diversion," Gerace said. "It gives the kids an opportunity to get their minds off of what they've been through. It just lets them have fun and be with their friends and have a blast."

Her 9-year-old daughter, Julia, said she knows people feel sorry for her and her friends and she appreciates how nice everybody has been.

"It just means a lot to me," she said. "And I really liked holding (Christie Rampone's) gold medal. That was cool."

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

SI Videos
Videos from the Web
 
SI.com
Hot Topics: Boston Marathon NBA Playoffs NHL Playoffs LaMarcus Aldridge Dwyane Wade Carlos Gomez
TM & © 2014 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint