Tag Archives: University of Mary Washington

Preston Hirten’s Legacy Lives On

In 2009 — just a couple of months before he died on the University of Mary Washington soccer field during pre-season training — Preston Hirten traveled to Africa. He volunteered with a great service project, Goals 4 Ghana.

Preston Hirten

Preston Hirten

For the 4th consecutive summer, Preston’s family and many friends — including former Staples teammates from his 2006 state finals team, and UMW — will gather in Westport from July 4 to 7 to honor his memory. They’ll play a 7-v-7 soccer tournament. They’ll barbecue, drink beer and tell funny stories about this remarkable young man.

This time, they’ll do something more. Weekend organizer Matt Lamb — Preston’s best friend —  invites all players, parents and spectators to bring new or used soccer balls, shoes, shin guards, socks, shorts, jerseys, etc., to the 7-v-7 tourney on Saturday, July 6 (11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wakeman Field).

Donations will be split between Goals 4 Ghana and Atuabo, an African village where Taylor Parker — a college friend of Preston’s — has served with the Peace Corps for the past 2 years.

Soccer was a vital part of Preston’s life. The Preston Hirten Weekend has become a cherished Westport tradition. Thanks to Matt and Preston’s many friends, his legacy continues to help soccer players halfway around the world.

PS: After donating, stick around to watch the soccer. It’s fun — and very good!

(Questions? Interested in fielding a team at the tournament? Contact matthew.c.lamb@gmail.com)

Staples, Mary Washington and other players relax after the 2012 tournament.

Staples, Mary Washington and other players relax after the 2012 tournament.

Staples Soccer Community And Westport Mourn Death Of College Player

Preston HirtenThe Staples soccer community was stunned by this afternoon’s death of Preston Hirten.

The hard-working, ultra-competitive midfielder — one of the sparkplugs of Staples’ 2006 FCIAC championship, state finalist team — collapsed during a training session at the University of Mary Washington.  CPR was immediately administered, but efforts to revive him failed.  Further details were not available this evening.

Preston was a special player, on a special team.  I know, because for 2 years I was his coach.

Preston epitomized Staples soccer.  He was not the biggest player on the field — but he did not have to be.  He had speed, skill and talent — lots of all 3.

Above all, though, he had determination.  Preston loved playing soccer, and he loved playing it with his friends.  Whether it was 3-v-3 training, a championship match or — most recently — our summer “Watermelon Cup” league, Preston never gave less than his best.  In doing so, he lifted the quality of play of everyone around him.  You could not give less than your best with Preston around.  And in the process, you had plenty of fun.

The 2006 Staples team is legendary for many reasons.  Their road to the state finals included 2 incredible penalty kick games — each of which went to more than 8 shots each.  The final was equally memorable:  a golden-goal 2-1 loss.

But the team endured much more off the field.  Several fathers died during and immediately following the season.

What happened that year could have diverted them, or caused them to lose focus.  Instead tragedy united them, made them stronger. They set a standard of soccer, competitiveness, camaraderie and humanity that is their legacy.

Today’s news is the cruelest blow of all — and the most difficult test for them.  But I know the soccer community will rally around them — and around Preston’s parents and his sisters — now, and in the days, weeks and months to come.

The 2006 Staples soccer team has been unfathomably diminished.  But they still have each other.  And — thanks to the bonds that Preston Hirten helped forge — they always will.