Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey was profoundly affected by the tragic school shooting 14 months ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in part, because he has two young daughters
Kelsey first spoke out about the tragedy in the days after 20 children and six adults were killed. He used the platform of a postgame press conference following his team's visit to Ohio State in December 2012 to do so. (See the video of his remarks that night below).
It was those comments that led to the beginning of a friendship with the parents of one of the victims. As the Associated Press reported this week, Becky and Stephen Kowalski, the parents of 7-year-old Chase Kowalski, who was killed at the school, heard about Kelsey's impassioned remarks and began a long-distance conversation with the coach through phone calls and emails.
The Kowalski's will finally meet Kelsey and his assistant coaches and players Saturday when they visit Winthrop to watch the Eagles' final regular season game against Presbyterian.Winthrop is 16-12 overall and 9-6 in the Big South Conference.
Winthrop players will wear names of victims of the shooting on their jerseys and coaches will wear patches with the initials of the adults who were killed. Kelsey and the Kowalski's are trying raise awareness for the CMAK (Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski) Sandy Hook Memorial Fund.
Joab Jerome, one of two seniors on the Winthrop roster, will wear Chase Kowalski's name on his jersey.
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