Bergonzi To Wear Number of Late Hirten

Bergonzi To Wear Number of Late Hirten

D.J. Sixsmith ’11
Sports Editor

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Photo by Niles Lathrop '12

How are you expected to move forward after losing two of the most influential people in your program’s history?

The deaths of soccer star Preston Hirten and founder of Staples soccer Albie Loeffler have left the town in deep mourning. But for Woog the only thing to do is go ahead with life.

“You can’t live in the past, but you can use the past to build a stronger foundation for the present and the future,” Woog said.

The tragic passing of 2007 graduate Preston Hirten this past offseason deeply saddened the Westport soccer community. In honor of the former captain, Woog decided to let the memory of one of the greatest players in Staples soccer history live on. Frankie Bergonzi ‘11 will wear the number 15 and for Woog this is an ideal situation.

“I was looking for a way to honor Preston and Frankie was the perfect fit as he carries the same type of passion and love for the game that Preston had,” Woog said.

Instead of having his jersey retired, Woog allowed Bergonzi to keep the number he had worn for the last two years. He will then choose a player to pass on the number to when he graduates in 2011. The decision will solely be based on who he believes to be the most deserving of carrying on Hirten’s legacy.

“This is the best way of honoring Preston, instead of his jersey being in a trophy case, his memory will live on and the players will aspire to be chosen to wear his number,” Woog said.

Preston Hirten always held a special place in Frankie Bergonzi’s heart. Playing for the Varsity team as a freshman in 2007, Frankie had the opportunity to play with Hirten during his senior year at Staples. The personal time he spent with Hirten makes wearing his number all the more special.

“When I met Preston for the first time he talked to me like I was another one of his teammates even though I was just a freshman, it is truly a privilege to get to wear the number that Preston did…he was a class act,” Bergonzi said.

Ella Hirten’11, sister of Preston, has been touched by all the efforts made by the Staples soccer program and is sure that her brother would appreciate everything that has been done.

“I think it is fitting not to retire my brothers number, I don’t think he would have wanted it to be retired. He loved watching this class of boys play and I know he always admired their skill”, said Hirten.

Having known Frankie for several years and seen him play for the Staples team, Ella is proud to see her brother’s number go to a person that was so similar to Preston.

“Frankie seems to be the perfect guy to wear the number 15. He has many of the characteristics my brother did, great player who loves the game, a great sportsman and they both share the same motivation to get better and help the team be the best they can,” Hirten said.

The respect for Preston Hirten was global. The hardest worker on the 2007 FCIAC championship team was able to translate the same principles he established on Loeffler field to the University of Mary Washington. During his short time in Virginia, Hirten was able to gain the trust and confidence of both the players and coaches. To this, Coach Dan Woog attributes Hirten’s core values as they went a long way in making many great friendships.

“Preston epitomized Staples soccer in terms of skill, work, ethic, passion, joy he took from the game and great good.”

Through this terrible loss, Coach Woog has been able to establish a great relationship with Preston’s head coach at the University of Mary Washington Roy Gordon. In fact, Gordon has promised to recruit the player that is wearing #15 for the Wreckers every year.

Coach Dan Woog’s decision to honor Preston Hirten in this way will preserve his memory for many years to come. With Frankie Bergonzi’11 being the first to represent the late star, the junior defensemen puts into perspective what Preston meant to him.

“He was one of the nicest kids I have ever met, and an absolute machine on the soccer field. He simply never quit. Preston was as driven a player as I have ever seen. He was relentless. I started to think, I want play like that kid,” said Bergonzi.