By Jessica Weihrauch
Ohio State Athletics Communications

It was a record-setting night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Tuesday night as more than $30,000 was raised for the Connor Senn Memorial Scholarship fund, topping the previous record by $7,000. A record 2,274 fans packed the stadium for the Seventh Annual FirstMerit Bank Connor Senn Memorial Game against the Columbus Crew on a chilly spring night, and for a good cause.

During a match at Akron Sept. 26, 2001, Connor collapsed on the field and died later that night due to a heart defect. His father, Dr. Lance Senn, established the Connor Senn Memorial Scholarship Fund at Ohio State and the fund, now in its seventh year, has raised more than $130,000.

“I knew Connor since birth,” said Dave Tumbas, family friend of the Senns and one of the lead organizers of the event. “After he passed away it was only natural that I get involved, so I called Coach Bluem and asked how I could help. In the first year we raised $3,700. Now I won’t be surprised if the scholarship is fully endowed at a quarter of a million dollars in a couple years.”

After years of searching for a named sponsor, Tumbas found what he was looking for when FirstMerit Bank decided to buy the naming rights as the lead sponsor to the game. Shortly after, R&L Carriers also decided to buy the naming rights as associate sponsor.

Ticket sales combined with silent auction bids and donations have accumulated over $130,000 for the scholarship fund. Items in the silent auction included everything from OSU sports memorabilia to game jerseys signed by MLS pros.

“It’s great how these college athletes and professionals can come together to celebrate the life of an amazing man,” said Jim Waters, a former Buckeye goalkeeper who is now the lead organizer of the alumni support group for the game. “The main thing I want people to know about Connor is that he was a great young man who loved the game.”

Perhaps no one knows this better than former friend and teammate of Connor’s David Ridenhour, who was a central defender for the Buckeyes from 2000 to 2003.

“Connor was just a really funny guy,” Ridenhour said. “He loved to play guitar in his dorm room and loved having fun he was the greatest. It’s bittersweet that this match is being played in his memory, but it’s cool to see what this has grown to.” 

The Columbus Crew defeated the Buckeyes 4-1 Tuesday night. Jason Garey and George Josten contributed two goals for the Crew. Freshman forward Nowa Thiam scored the lone goal for the Buckeyes.

Even though Connor is gone, his memory will never be forgotten. The game is not just about raising money for his scholarship fund, but also to remind everyone of what a great person and player he was. “Play like Connor today” is the mantra for the Ohio State men’s soccer family, and with good reason.

“He was a very intelligent and wonderful player,” Ridenhour said. “He was quiet on the field but within one week of being on the team, the players knew how great he really was.”

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