I stopped by to watch the final innings of the Westhill-Trinity Catholic softball game Saturday morning on my way into the office. As I caught up with friends watching beyond the outfield fence, the discussion turned to the tragic news of the day: Rachel Sottosanti, the Vikings’ three-year starting shortstop and a sophomore at Southern Connecticut State University, had died the night before. She was 19.
I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I knew Rachel better than some, not as well as some other high school athletes I have covered. I knew she was a hard worker who was outstanding defensively, was always smiling and had the rare ability to put smiles on the faces of everyone she encountered. I was never aware of her many charitable efforts and work with young athletes until talking to her many friends over the weekend.
Obviously my heart goes out to the Sottosanti family: her father, Dave, and three younger sisters. I feel for Rachel’s former teammates: having to witness Westhill coach Tom Pia and athletic director Mike King inform the players after their 5-1 win and watching their reactions was painful. And I feel awful for the entire Westhill community. Having to endure one death is too much; the school has suffered way too many in recent years.
I wrote a column on Rachel in today’s paper: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/localsports/ci_12234431
There is nothing more difficult than writing about the death of a young athlete. Besides the subject matter, you never feel like you can write something well enough to do justice to the person.
The Sottosantis are asking in lieu of flowers instead for donations to help the family offset the cost of the funeral.
If you would like to help, please send your generous contributions to:
Nick Santagata, 44 Joan Road, Stamford, 06905.
Let’s hope this is the last tragedy the Stamford sports and Westhill communities have to experience.