Somers JV Football Coach Matthew Ridgeway lost all his and his daughter’s possessions last Tuesday. An accidental fire in the kitchen broke out and destroyed his home. Tallying the dollar value can certainly be calculated but expressing the totality of the loss in words is quite another thing. “It’s like getting your heart broken as you lose everything of sentimental value,” Ridgeway attempted to explain. His daughter’s tears especially tugs at his spirit. So for as much as the GoFundMe page begins his rebuild, the football team's efforts have also put the emotional fallout firmly on the mend.
“I’ve never felt so loved in my life,” said Ridgeway, who is also the Boys’ Lacrosse coach and a Science Teacher at the high school.
Ridgeway and his daughter had gone out and were soon alerted by neighbors that first responders were putting out a fire at his house. He learned that the fire spread quickly, and between the smoke and water, most everything they owned got ruined. “It was devastating in so many ways but mainly to see my daughter crying over all her stuffed animals, artwork, and favorite outfits,” he lamented the feeling.
More than the fire spread quickly.
Of course, the fire wasn’t the only thing that spread quickly. “We heard through emails and the Somers Tuskers Touchdown Club that Coach Ridgeway’s house caught fire, and he lost everything,” said Tusker Linebacker Chris DiCintio.
The engulfing concern, though, blazed with a much more powerful fuel. “We wanted to do everything we could, because he’s one of the nicest guys we’ve ever known,” said 16-year-old DiCintio.
So a group of players went to Assistant Principal Guidotti for ideas, and he suggested a GoFundMe page. No time for play action, Fullback Nick Vece didn’t pause to ponder either. “The next period, I took out my laptop and immediately set up the page,” said Vece.
The link was soon making its way around the school and the Somers community. “We raised $4,500 so far,” said Cornerback Anthony Lombardi.
But no high speed connection was going to keep the obviously preoccupied Ridgeway in the loop. “A coworker at the school told me, wait until what you see what the kids are doing,” relayed Ridgeway. “It’s absolutely going to blow your mind.”
DiCintio did the honors before the championship game on Saturday night. “Chris pulled me aside and said, ‘Coach, I just want you to know we love you, and this is what we are doing for you,’” Ridgeway recalled the moment.
“He just broke down in tears,” said DiCintio. “It was just a warm and great feeling that we helped our coach.”
Back on the Sidelines and Loving his Community
Even so, Ridgeway was a little uneasy about appearing back on the sidelines where he operates the sideline huddle camera. His concern was that he might be a distraction for the team. “I said I will stay home, but they said absolutely not,” Ridgeway revealed.
However, the coach did not go unnoticed. “We just balled and did everything we could to win for him,” said DiCintio.
While appreciative of the team’s sentiment that they did it for him, he preferred to deflect being the center of attention. So Ridgeway gave credit where it was due. “Somers is a special place,” he said in also recognizing an entire community that is pitching in.
Taking a position here as a Science Teacher in 2014, he only adds to what the town offers. Nonetheless, Ridgeway probably can also take solace in that his primary message is now reflected back by his players. “He will always put you before himself in any situation,” DiCintio aptly concluded.
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