Eight-year-old Mack Brady’s first love was soccer. His dream was to play as a Nittany Lion and then to become a goalkeeper for the U.S. national team, said his father, Dean of the Schreyer Honors College Christian Brady.
Mack’s dreams were cut short when he died from a bacterial infection last Monday, but his family has ensured that his legacy will live on at Jeffrey Field.
Christian and his wife Elizabeth, who is also a faculty member at Penn State, have asked that memorial gifts be directed to a scholarship being established in Mack’s honor, which will benefit a player on the men’s soccer team.
“It is wonderful to know that the Mack Brady scholar will be able to run out on that pitch,” Brady said.
Mack’s father is happy to give future players the “chance to meet their dreams playing soccer.”
When Brady first contacted head soccer coach Bob Warming about the scholarship, he said Warming’s response was, “Mack is always a Nittany Lion keeper now.”
Warming, who also dealt with tragedy when his daughter, Audrey, was killed in a car accident last spring, called Mack a “special kid” who came from a “special family.”
Besides being a “great little goalie,” Warming said Mack was a huge Penn State soccer fan, who attended both men’s and women’s games with his family. Warming said many players on his team immediately reacted to the news by posting on Facebook that they would wear Mack’s initials on their arms for the rest of their soccer careers.
Brian Forgue, a defender on the team this past season, said he often looked up from the field during games and saw Mack sitting in the front row of the stands. Forgue said he thinks commemorating Mack by awarding a future soccer player a scholarship “speaks volumes of the type of person Dean Brady is.”
“This is a very big way to turn around such a tragedy,” Forgue said.
The Penn State soccer team was not the only one reaching out to the Brady family.
Brady said he has received an outpouring of support from the soccer community, including emails from six Major League Soccer goalkeepers and condolences from Walter Bahr, who is considered one of the greatest American soccer players and a former Penn State coach.
“The soccer community is unique and a lot of players said, ‘We know goalkeepers are crazy people, so we know [Mack] must have been a crazy fun kid,’ which he was,” Brady said with a laugh. “Full of joy and life.”
As his family copes with the loss of a child, Brady said the encouragement he has received from others has been “incredibly humbling.”
Christopher P. Long, associate dean for undergraduate studies, said via email that the soccer scholarship will be a lasting testimony to the love the Penn State community feels for Mack and the Brady family.
The scholarship, Long wrote, “will be a tribute to the energy, skill and passionate dreams of a wondrous little boy.”
Memorial donations may be made online at http://givenow.psu.edu or by sending a check, payable to Penn State with "In memory of Mack Brady" in the memo line, to: Penn State University, One Old Main, University Park, Pa., 16802.