The Telegram
  • HCCC campus stunned by soccer player’s death

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  • HERKIMER — Pepe Aragon knew Pete McAvoy was a superior talent and a special person.
    Now, after McAvoy’s sudden death Saturday night, the Herkimer County Community College men’s soccer coach is finding out others feel just as strongly.
    McAvoy, a 22-year-old All-American and reigning national Junior College Player of the Year, collapsed at about 6 p.m. Saturday in his campus apartment. Athletic Director Donald Dutcher said McAvoy was unresponsive and was taken to Little Falls Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
    “His roommate said he was on the couch and just keeled over,” Dutcher said. “He yelled, ‘Pete! Pete!’ but he didn’t respond. When word got out, everyone was pretty much in shock. … The team is very, very somber right now.”
    Dutcher said a cause of death has yet to be determined, and that an autopsy is being scheduled.
    Herkimer College’s Campus Safety department is working in conjunction with the Herkimer Police Department to investigate the death. Neither could comment on the investigation Sunday.
    Aragon said he met with the team Saturday night and then had them gather at his house Sunday.
    “We’ve spent most of the last day together,” he said. “There were ups and downs - a lot more ups, though. Pete had an amazing personality. He was always the one who lifted us up. He was the character and comedian of the team - a real leader on and off the field.”
    Dutcher echoed that.
    “There wasn’t a kid on campus who didn’t know Pete McAvoy,” he said. “He was an unbelievable soccer player … and one of the most popular students on campus. He had a presence about him that always had people laughing.”
    Aragon said the volume of text messages, phone calls and Facebook comments has been overwhelming.
    “Each hour, I find out how many lives he touched,” Aragon said. “I’m hearing from administrators at the college, my children, community members, other coaches. I’m amazed by that.”
    Aragon has led the Generals to 10 national championships, including each of the last three seasons. McAvoy anchored the last two.
    McAvoy made an impression on the opposition, as well.
    Mohawk Valley Community College men’s soccer coach Bob Gould said he was in shock from the news.
    “I’m just devastated for Pepe and all the guys on the team right now,” he said. “I never had a negative thing to say about him. I just can’t put this into words. I’m sure Pepe would trade every one of those national championships for just one more day with Pete McAvoy.”
    McAvoy, a sophomore from Dundee, Scotland, helped lead the Generals to back-to-back national championships. He scored three game-winning goals in the most recent title run, including the only score in the championship game, earning him tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
    Page 2 of 2 - The sophomore defensive sweeper helped hold opponents to just five goals in 18 games. He scored a team-best 15 goals and helped the Generals to a 17-1 record this past season.
    “He was one of the best captains I ever had,” Aragon said. “He was our leading scorer last season; I’ve never had that. I’ve never had a player who dominated both defensively and offensively the way he did.”
    Aragon’s best memories of his star player, however, are not of how he played the game, but how he treated others.
    “He didn’t care if you were the starter or the practice player on the end of the bench. He treated everyone the same. He was an absolute blessing in my life.
    “We all loved Pete. Right now, we’re all heart-broken.”
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