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Alumna, soccer player honored for service

09/15/2010

It's been more than nine years since she graduated from MCLA, but an alumna who remains in the hearts and minds of those she knew on campus - as well as a number of students who follow in her footsteps - will be honored at this Saturday's women's soccer game.

On Sept. 18, MCLA will officially raise an American flag that Sgt. Sarah Lapine recently had flown over Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as a gift to the MCLA women's soccer team. Lapine played soccer with the Trailblazers for four years.

A member of the Class of 2001, Lapine, of Stamford, Vt., serves with the 82nd Sustainment Brigade stationed in Afghanistan, where she supplies the troops with fuel and water. To fulfill her duties, she must travel throughout the country, many times in very dangerous situations.

The flag will fly at every women's home soccer game from here on out, to honor Lapine and her fellow soldiers who serve our country, according to Deborah Raber, head women's soccer coach at MCLA. Although Lapine must remain in Afghanistan and will miss the festivities, this Saturday will be a very special day, she said.

 "We brainstormed together and thought, why don't we have a flag flown for the women's soccer program? It was flown in Afghanistan, ceremoniously folded, and she sent it off our way. It helps to keep her in our thoughts, as well."

As is the case with others who graduated from the College, it is not unique for MCLA women's soccer alumnae to keep in touch with Raber and others on campus.

"Sarah has always kept a special contact with us because of the College," Raber said. "Certain members of the College are always on her mind. Her time in athletics here was incredibly important. She talks about it all the time."

All of the members of the women's soccer team know of Lapine - even those who never played with her.

"I think because we preach family - and that includes our alumni - it's pretty easy to keep in touch and know what she's doing. A lot of them are friends on Facebook with her, so even if they haven't met face-to-face, they still know who she is. We do talk about how important our alumni are for us, that they are kept in their thoughts, especially those who serve overseas.

"People are definitely touching base with her, making sure she's okay," Raber said.

Among the campus community members to do so are John Greenbush, who works in the facilities department, and Steve Green, a former vice president of academic affairs, who recently retired. They will participate in Saturday's ceremony.

Although she cannot be present at the event, "I think she's so very appreciative that she's right here with us and she's in our thoughts," Raber said. "The fact that we're pulling for her gives her a little bit of a smile and a pick-me-up to realize that we're all here for her."

The ceremony will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 1 p.m., at Shewcraft Field, during the women's soccer game at home against Worcester State. The event is free and open to the public.