Hometown hero Tracy among the dozens of soccer stars set for Newtown youth soccer event

The horrific events that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 shocked the community -- and the world -- to its core.

How could such an atrocity occur in such a tranquil town as Newtown, and in such a nurturing, non-threatening place as an elementary school? The phrase "That could never happen here" no longer applies.

In the days and weeks that have followed one of the worst shootings in American history, Newtown has been engulfed by an enormous wave of goodwill. Donations have poured in from every corner of the globe -- from money and toys to prayers for hope and healing -- all sent with the intent of helping a quaint American town -- particularly the children of that town -- pick up the pieces of its shattered innocence.

On Monday, one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of Newtown will be doing his part to aid in the healing process.

Marcus Tracy, a 2005 Newtown High graduate and soccer standout who now plays for the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer, will be one of more than 30 professional and international soccer stars who will be hosting a soccer clinic for the youngsters in the Newtown Youth Soccer Club. The event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Newtown Youth Academy and is only open to members of the Newtown Youth Soccer Club.

Among the players scheduled to participate are Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy; former UConn standout Kwame Watson-Siriboe of Real Salt Lake; Matt Reis of the New England Revolution; former U.S. men's national team stars Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas; and former U.S. women's national team stars Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly, a Wilton native.

The idea for the event was conceived by Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti, a Guilford native. Canetti, a Quinnipiac University graduate, contacted the soccer coach at his alma mater, Eric Da Costa, and the event quickly began picking up momentum. Monday evening's schedule will include some small-sided games with the kids, some instructional time and an opportunity to get autographs.

"It's definitely going to be something fun for the kids in the community," Tracy said in a phone interview on Friday.

Tracy was at home in Newtown when news of the Sandy Hook tragedy began to spread. He reacted the same way everyone else did that fateful morning.

"Really just shock and disbelief that morning, coming down stairs and watching the news on CNN," said Tracy, who attended the Hawley School when he was a kid and not Sandy Hook. "To think that something like that could happen in the place where I lived for 18 years and the place I grew up in was tough to deal with."

The tragedy hit very close to home for Tracy, whose mother was once a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"She knew a couple of the victims, and it was obviously tough on her," Tracy said.

The outpouring of support has been tremendous.

"It's been good, all the support that we've gotten from neighboring towns and states, and really from all over the world," Tracy said. "You sort of feel like you're not alone, even though it happened right around the corner, right in your neighborhood. We appreciate all the support that we've gotten."

After graduating from Newtown High, Tracy went on to star at Wake Forest and as a senior received the 2008 Hermann Trophy, which is given each year to the most outstanding college player in the nation. Tracy graduated from Wake Forest as No. 7 on the school's all-time scoring list.

From there, Tracy went overseas and played three professional seasons in Denmark. He signed with San Jose of the MLS last September.