By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Katie Iarussi’s friendly personality carried the gift to bring people together.
As a soccer player for the Rootstown Rovers, though Iarussi contributed on the field, the characteristic proved to be her most valuable skill.
Even in her absence, Iarussi is still connecting people with each other.
Iarussi died in 2011 when she was just 20 years old from an automobile accident, but her family has lovingly kept her legacy moving forward with the Katie Rae Iarussi Foundation, which holds primary fundraisers each season with a golf outing at the Rootstown High School girls soccer alumni game.
This year’s alumni soccer game will be played on July 30 at Rootstown High School, but will include more than just alumni players.
Rootstown players of the future will be showcased as well, with more than 75 youth players anticipated to compete in youth games as part of the event.
The youth games will begin at noon and the alumni game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
“Katie was not an all-league player, but she absolutely loved the game. She loved being with her friends and she loved bringing people together and doing that to help build a team that was a family,” Katie’s mother Brenda Iarussi said. “That’s just who Katie was. She was all about including everyone so to have the alumni soccer game turn into an event that pulls even more of the community together is really something that is special.”
The KRI Foundation actually has hopes to grow the event even more, too.
“We want to bring in other schools. We want to bring all of the communities of Portage County together,” Iarussi said. “We believe so strongly in communities working together and to put something together like this creates that kind of bonding.”
All of the profits from the KRI Foundation’s golf and soccer events are directly donated back to the school, kids, community or through scholarship recipients.
This past year, the foundation donated in-game cameras that have become popular amongst soccer programs that not only record the game, but individual players at all times and provide data that can be used for coaching (both personal and from the team’s staff) and film study.
Pushing every dollar back to the community in some form is something that Iarussi is very passionate about because of what the community has meant to her and her family.
“We are all about our community. They jumped in to help us when we needed it the most so until the day that I die, we will always give back.”
For more information on the game or how to donate, email email@example.com.