When Matilde Garnica was killed in a traffic accident on July 4, many Santa Clarita residents wondered how they could help her children suddenly left without a mother.
One of those residents was Joel Govea, Director of Player Development for the Santa Clarita Valley Magic, a local soccer club consisting of 21 teams.
Upon learning of Garnica’s death, Govea immediately thought of her son Josh, who plays for the club’s Boys Under 12 team.
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Josh Garnica was injured in the accident that killed his mother, leaving him in crutches, which he still uses.
Govea decided to hold a fundraiser for the Garnica family, one that resonated with the soccer lifestyle Garnica supported. Govea’s idea was a simple one: hold numerous pick-up games at once, and ask for $10 per player.
“This was a great way to help out the family, but at the same time, to just let these kids have fun. We just throw up small fields and let them go,” said Govea. “The whole idea is just to stay out of their way.”
By the scheduled kickoff time of 10 a.m., more than 100 children and teenagers had filled the dozen or so fields set up by Govea and the Magic Club training staff. The players scrambled excitedly to snatch a neon jersey, ready to play from the first whistle to the last.
“I’m just going to stay out of their way,” Govea said.
Magic President Cliff Penick noted the widespread support from the Santa Clarita community.
“It’s incredible. We have a representative here from each of our 21 teams. We’re also expecting 30 players from local high schools to come out and play.”
By 11 a.m., players were still showing up at the registration tent, eager to play the game they love while supporting a few neighbors going through a rough patch.
The event finished with 162 registered players, and generated $3,422 for the Garnica family.