Members of the Wilton High School boys and girls varsity soccer teams visited several Wilton Soccer Association intramural youth games Oct. 24 to share their love of the game and to raise awareness of the Kick for Nick Foundation and its fund-raising efforts.

Zachary Abud, a senior captain for the Wilton boys varsity team, organized the group of players, which included Kira Howard, Abby Kyle, Andrew Rubsam, Cole Iannuzzi, Josh Grass, Piper Chase, Libby Connolly, Maddie Pfeiffer, Amelia Hughes, Heather Plowright, Emerson Pattillo, Maureen Campbell, Janet Johnson, Ross Edkins, Jack Lynch, Jake Lash, Arhav Soi, and Mia Pepitone.

The varsity players discussed tactics, shared a few touches of the ball with the young players, and distributed the WSA’s free annual varsity soccer poster (design and images by Gretchen McMahon) to each youth player. The varsity players even signed a few autographs.

“It was really fun to see the little kids play, and at the same time it was nice to give back a little something to the program where many of us began our soccer journeys too,” Abud said.

“The WSA players and families could not have been more excited and appreciative of the varsity players’ visit,” said Jason Partenza, a former Wilton High player who is president of the Wilton Soccer Association. “It’s a connection that is really nice to see and one the young kids will remember for years to come.”

In an effort to return the favor, the WSA has been highlighting the Kick for Nick fundraiser, organized by the Wilton boys team. Kick for Nick was established to honor the legacy of the late Nick Madaras, a former Wilton student and soccer player who was killed while serving as a private with the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2006.

Before he was killed, Madaras had an idea to use the gift of a soccer ball as a way to find common ground among people of widely varied countries, cultures and backgrounds. The Kick for Nick program has followed through on Madaras’ vision, distributing more than 55,000 soccer balls to young players throughout the world.

Founded in 1978, the Wilton Soccer Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that offers introductory clinics, intramural soccer, and travel soccer, and also has a program (TopSoccer) for players with special needs.

Despite unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSA — in close cooperation with Wilton Parks & Recreation and the Wilton Health Department — has more than 500 children participating this fall. For more information, visit wiltonsoccer.com.