The few sprinkles that fell Tuesday night in Leesburg did nothing to diminish the success -- or the spirit -- of the Heritage girls' soccer benefit game, "Kicks for Caeden." The event honored the school's first girls' soccer coach, Trevor Eback, who died in October from liver cancer, and raised $4,000 for an education fund for his 10-month-old son, Caeden.
"I was overwhelmed," said Alethea Eback, Caeden's mother. "I knew my husband was a very special person. He touched so many people, and I've seen it so much since his passing, but this was amazing. . . . I would like to thank Heritage and the entire community for their support. It meant so much to us."
Alethea Eback holds her son, Caeden, during the game between Heritage and Loudoun County. "Kicks for Caeden" benefited the education fund for the son of former Heritage coach Trevor Eback, who died last year of cancer.
(Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
Heritage Athletic Director Ron Petrella, who worked with Loudoun County Athletic Director Ken Wright to rearrange the rest of the spring games that day so nothing overlapped with the girls' soccer contest, estimated 70 percent of the school's spring sport athletes attended.
"That, really, was the best part of the whole night," Petrella said. "I mean, it was really nice to raise money for Caeden's education fund and for the community to come together they way it did. But more than the donations, the family was overwhelmed by the number of kids there cheering on the girls and the program that [Eback] loved so much. The camaraderie among the kids and the family atmosphere out there was exactly what we want this school to be about."
Much of the $4,000 was donated, including large contributions by La Villa Roma, Heritage High School Athletic Boosters, Cheers Sports, Loudoun Youth Soccer Association, Heritage High School staff and attendees at the event.
"A lot of the Loudoun County crowd didn't know it was a benefit game until they got there," Petrella said. "But once they found their $4 entrance fee was being donated you heard an awful lot of people say, 'Keep the change.' It was wonderful."
In addition to the donations, Caeden was also presented with a ball that had been signed by his father. Alethea Eback said that is one of the many memories she will share with her son as he gets older.
"I already tell Caeden what a wonderful man his dad was," Alethea said. "And I will tell him how touched I was to see all those people and to be presented with a ball signed by his dad. I will tell him that his daddy made an impact in so many lives because he had the love of God so deeply, and he wanted to show it every way he could. I think he showed that even through his coaching.
"He loved the girls on his team like they were his best friends. He was so much more than a coach; he was a mentor and friend."
Blubaugh Is Raiders' Hoops Coach
Wright announced this week the hiring of Brian Blubaugh as the Raiders' new boys' varsity basketball coach. Blubaugh worked as an assistant to Jeff Hawes at Potomac Falls the past eight seasons but is better known for his success with the Panthers' boys cross-country teams. He guided the Panthers to five AA Dulles District titles in six seasons.
"I knew of Brian from his work with Jeff at Potomac Falls and knew he had a proven ability to build programs," Wright said. "And when I started looking into him more, I did not find a single person who said he wouldn't be a great hire."
Blubaugh, who also coaches outdoor track at Potomac Falls, takes over for Vic Holmes, who retired at the conclusion of last season.
"It came down to a situation where doing three sports got to be too much," Blubaugh said. "I was telling someone just the other day that this track season is my 27th season coaching a sport, and I just turned 32, so that's a lot in a matter of nine to 10 years. It's not that I'm burnt out; I'm just ready to focus on basketball and give it my full attention."
Blubaugh inherits a Raiders' program that went 2-12 in the district last season and 3-19 overall, but said he looks forward to the challenge of rebuilding the program.
"It was a tough decision to leave Potomac Falls, not only because the success we've had there but also because Jeff and I have such a good time and a good rapport with each other," Blubaugh said. "But I wanted the challenge of being a head basketball coach, and Jeff was very supportive of it. He was a part of the decision."
Hagood Blazes Trail
Senior Paul Hagood became the first Broad Run lacrosse player in school history to accept a Division I offer when he committed this week to play next season at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut on a partial scholarship.
Hagood earned All-Extra and all-Dulles honors each of the past two seasons as a defender, leading a defense that allowed 33 goals in 14 victories last year. Hagood, who was also second-team all-Region II as both a sophomore and a junior, is regarded as one of the best long-stick players in the league, often keying the Spartans' transition from defense to offense.
"Lacrosse, compared to other sports, is a significantly new program in this area," said Broad Run assistant athletic director Joe Breinig Jr. "So this speaks volumes for lacrosse in the Dulles District and the coaches who are working hard to improve the kids' skills to be able to place them at the next level. It bodes well for the future of the sport in the district and the future of the program here at Broad Run."