Mount Mercy University recognized the women’s soccer team with the President’s Award at Honors Convocation on Saturday, May 17. The President’s Award is given in recognition of outstanding perseverance and diligence in pursuit of goals. This year marks the first time a group of students have been honored for coming together during a time of devastating grief.
In the summer of 2013, the Mount Mercy community lost friend, biology student and soccer player Haley Rinaldi in a tragic boating accident at the Ruedi Reservoir in Colorado. Her passing was sudden and deeply heartbreaking for her family, friends and teammates.
As the soccer team returned to campus that fall, they began the process of healing and banded together, not only in support of one another but in support of Haley’s memory as well. They proudly displayed one of Haley’s jerseys with a memorial at every match throughout the season. The team created warm-up shirts sporting Haley’s number and her Twitter handle and wore purple armbands during every match to remember their lost teammate.
The ladies coordinated a benefit alongside Haley’s coworkers at the White Star Alehouse to raise money for funeral expenses. This benefit, along with the organized sale of memorial shirts and purple wristbands across campus, resulted in a donation to the Haley Rinaldi Memorial Scholarship established by her family.
On September 17, Haley’s Game was played between Mount Mercy and Waldorf, her former school. Both teams met at middle field prior to the match to celebrate Haley with 30 seconds of applause (30 being her jersey number) and a release of purple balloons in a breathtaking show of respect.
“Together, they pushed through the downs knowing that there would be ups ahead,” said Head Women’s Soccer Coach Raven McMurrin. “In that faith, they moved forward – always together. When each suffered or felt hopeless, they all surrounded each other with love and support knowing that together they could overcome anything.”