Ten Years Later, Senn's Legacy Remains
Sept. 26, 2011
Monday, Sept. 26 marks 10 years since the passing of Connor Senn, a freshman on the 2001 team, who collapsed and died from a heart defect following the Buckeyes' game at Akron earlier that evening. Senn was born April 15, 1983 in Newark, Ohio, to Lance, a former member of the Ohio State tennis team, and Margaret Senn and grew up in Granville, Ohio, located 27 miles east of Columbus, with his older sister, Molly, and older brother, Henry.
At Granville High School, he earned all-league, all-district and all-state honors and was named the Mid-State League Most Valuable Player as a senior. A member of the Columbus Metro Team Admiral, Senn helped lead his squad to four State Cup titles.
In 2001 Senn graduated from Granville High School and that fall came to Ohio State as a walk-on defender. It was not long, however, before he broke into the starting lineup, where he started five of the eight matches in which he played during that season for the nationally-ranked Buckeyes.
Sept. 26, 2001, a 2-1 loss at Akron, was his final game.
Over the last decade, Senn's legacy has remained with the program as The Connor Senn Memorial Fund has grown to subsidize a fully-endowed scholarship at Ohio State and now to begin the Connor Senn Educational Symposium on Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes with the Ohio State Medical Center and Ross Heart Hospital.
The team's mantra is to "Play Like Connor Today" and has since carried them to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and a combined five Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles in the last decade.
Every spring, the Buckeyes participate in the Connor Senn Memorial Match against the Columbus Crew for the first nine years and the Dayton Dutch Lions in the 2011 exhibition. Coupled with a silent auction, the match is the primary source of financial support for the Memorial Fund. To make a donation to the Connor Senn Educational Symposium on Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes, visit www.giveto.osu.edu and search for Fund #313703.
Within the team, Senn's memory lives on among players who were merely in grade school a decade ago and never knew the source of inspiration behind so much of what they play for. His No. 22 locker remains empty, untouched and locked, a sacred spot between Joshua Breto and David Tiemstra'scurrent lockers, and in the corner hangs the chair from a teammate's house he would often sit in to play the guitar, covered in messages written by members of the 2001 team.
Senn's face is the last thing every player sees as they leave the locker room to take the field each day, a continued reminder to "Play Like Connor Today." And once on the game field, a tree stands up on the edge of the stadium, colorful and healthy, with a plaque underneath "In Memory of Connor Senn." John Bluem, in his 15th season as head coach, will tell the story of the home contest vs. Akron in 2002 when Justin Cook scored and the whole team jumped the fence to gather under the tree.
And now, in honor of the 10-year anniversary of Senn's passing, Block O, the official student section at Ohio State athletics events, has named its soccer-specific group "Connor's Crew," further immortalizing the young walk-on and his short time spent in the Scarlet and Gray.