Broadneck senior goalkeeper Cassie Herzig writes the initials of Olivia Constants on a teammate’s hand before a recent game. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

By Toni L. Sandys

Stephen Constants sat in the bleachers on Senior Night for the Broadneck girls’ soccer team. Earlier he and his wife, Dorothy, joined other parents on the field for pregame festivities honoring the team’s nine seniors. One minute into the game, the Bruins called for a substitution. A player ran on, but no one ran off. Stephen turned to Dorothy with tears in his eyes and said: “You realize what that is? They just started Olivia.”

Ellie McNulty, 17, a senior on this year’s team, said she first met Olivia Constants “the summer before we came to high school at soccer camp,” and they quickly became friends. In the fall, they began playing together on the junior varsity team. Many of the girls on the team had been playing together for years on local club teams and knew each other well. “Olivia was brand new to the school,” said John Camm, Broadneck’s girls’ varsity coach. “She went to a different middle school, but, you know, two weeks into summer training she knew everybody. She’s just one of those kids; everybody loved her right off the bat.”

In 2011, the summer before her sophomore year, Olivia died in a sailing accident. That fall teammates missed her outgoing personality and looked for a way to remember her. “She had an amazing personality and just fit right in with the team,” McNulty said. “She was greatly missed.”

That season, the Bruins wore armbands with Olivia’s initials on them for every game. They also used a black marker to write ‘O’ and ‘C’ on the backs of their hands. “That way, when you’re playing and you’re tired and you don’t think you can give anymore you think of Olivia,” senior goalie Cassie Herzig said. The team no longer wears the armbands, but more than two years later, in what would have been Olivia’s senior season, the team still gets together before every game and writes Olivia’s initials on their hands.

Olivia “valued friendships and they meant the world to her,” Stephen Constants said. “It’s a testament to her and her friends that they felt compelled to carry her out with them each and every game.”

Since the team supported them, Stephen and Dorothy Constants have supported the team, coming to almost every home game since Olivia’s death. “Part of us is sad because Olivia isn’t here with us and were not able to enjoy in the same moments, but at the same time we’ve gotten to see her friends that have not only embraced but not forgotten about her,” Stephen said. “They’ve held on to her and her vibrancy and her larger-than-life personality. I feel like they’ve just made it like she she’s been with the team each and every day.”

“There’s no way we could ever forget her,” McNulty said. “The ink fades between our games but her memory never does.”

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