SHAFTSBURY -- Two generations of Mount Anthony Union High School girls soccer players came together at Howard Park on Saturday to honor the program and two of their own who left too soon.
Class of 1995 graduate Diane Peacock started the Blue Lollipop Road Play It Forward reunion as dozens of former soccer players and coaches rekindled lost relationships.
"No one's seen each other for years," Peacock said. "I've always told everyone I wouldn't be who I am if not for soccer. This brings everyone together for a great cause."
The main purpose of the day was to honor soccer players Maria Greene and Brandy Brown, both of whom died in a car accident on Aug. 18, 1994.
"I remember the first day and last day I saw them," said Traci Molloy, a member of the first girls team at MAU. "They were both gifted athletes and amazing girls. The fact that Diane took the initiative to pay respect to the girls and celebrate soccer is amazing."
Molloy was on the first girls soccer team at Mount Anthony in 1984 and scored the first goal in program history. The artist, who now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., remembered not having simple things, like uniforms or cones for drills.
"We had the old boys JV uniforms but we did what we had to do," said Molloy.
By her senior season in 1987, Molloy, Nicole Levesque, and Shelley Addison (Smith) led the Patriots to a 16-1 record and the state championship.
"I was so proud to be a part of that first title," Molloy said. And I'm still friends with the girls I played with. You rely on your peers in soccer and they can pick you up if you're having a bad day or vice versa."
Abbie O'Neill, a June graduate, found out about the Blue Lollipop Road through a friend on Facebook. Intrigued, she contacted Peacock to find out how she could get involved.
"It's neat to see all these people who played before supporting us," said O'Neill, attending Quinnipiac in the fall. "It's amazing to see how people care after all the years. It's one big family and I love being a part of the MAU soccer family."
Before the alumni game, Peacock hosted a Strong Mojo summit, with Levesque, Addison and triathlete Jessie Donavan sending messages to those in attendance.
Molloy said she started the Strong Mojo team chant in her only year of coaching at MAU, 1992. She led the freshman team that year with Peacock, Greene and Brown a part of that team.
"It came from an art professor I had in college," Molloy said. "It's about that undefinable essence, where everything clicks."
O'Neill said that without soccer she wouldn't have been able to travel as much as she has.
"I've met a lot of people through soccer," said O'Neill, a goalkeeper. "I've (been in) leagues all over the Northeast, and some of my fondest memories have come from those trips."
The BLR offered a scholarship to a female athlete who wants to travel. This year's winner of the first award is Raheemah Madany, a sophomore.
"Traveling, whether it's for soccer or not, it's a way to stretch yourself to the world and it makes us better people," Peacock said. "I was part of an exchange program the summer Maria and Brandy died and it changed my life. So this scholarship might be able to go toward an exchange program."
Molloy said she was thrilled to come back to Vermont for the event.
"I'm proud to say I'm from Shaftsbury and that I played soccer at MAU," Molloy said. "Now I can pay back to the next generation of soccer players."