Despite loss of their coach, Hebron U-12 team prevails

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Tue., Nov. 22, 2011
As they wait for the final member of their team to arrive, members of the Hebron Hawks U-12 championship soccer team fool around on the corner of Routes 66 and 85. Photos by Melanie Savage.
As they wait for the final member of their team to arrive, members of the Hebron Hawks U-12 championship soccer team fool around on the corner of Routes 66 and 85. Photos by Melanie Savage.

On Nov. 19, members of the championship Hebron Hawks U-12 soccer team gathered on the corner of Routes 85 and 66 to allow their parents to photograph them in front of a banner recognizing their winning season.

The season’s victory was especially sweet for the Hawks, all sixth-graders in Hebron Public Schools, because their coach, Nick Yetishefsky, passed away unexpectedly in the midst of the tournament season. Below is a letter written by Bob Fraleigh, father of Hebron Hawks player Ryan Fraleigh:

"On Oct. 17, Nick Yetishefsky, of Hebron, passed away suddenly while on the job as a supervisor at MDC (Metropolitan District). Nick, 46, was the head coach of the Hebron Hawks, the town's U-12 travel soccer team, and had been the head coach of this team for the past three years. As you might imagine, his passing broke the heart of our small town. To try and explain just how much, the funeral directors at Mulryan Funeral Home in Glastonbury estimated that over 1,500 people passed through the receiving line at his service, and over 600 people attended his funeral in Hebron.

"Among the attendees at these events was his soccer team, the U-12 Hebron Hawks. For many of these boys, it was the first funeral they attended and the end of a terrible week where they were forced for the first time to see that life wasn't only about friends, practices and games. They walked in together, they sat together and they cried together.

"At the time of Nick's passing, the Hawks were competing in the Connecticut Cup, a state-wide soccer tournament. At the time, there was talk of whether or not the team would play on, but everyone knew what Nick would want.

"The great news from this story is that [recently], the Hawks beat Madison 4-1 to win the tournament for the first time in Hebron's history. This was their third straight victory in the Cup... The performance of this group of 15 boys over the past few weeks has gone a long way in helping an entire town begin the healing process.

"It often seems when someone in a small town passes away suddenly, it is a coach, a teacher or someone else who was in the center of everything in that town. This story is no different.

"As we near Thanksgiving, and in the wake of [the Penn State football scandal], I wanted to remind everyone that there are men in sports who do serve as role models, and there will always be lessons for young people that can be taught through sports. In addition to the game of soccer, Nick taught these 15 boys life lessons that will stay with them as long as they live. Lessons, ironically, that they are using today to help deal with his tragic passing."


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