Hubbard, Tigers team up for battle

Westfield Technical Academy High School boys soccer’s honorary “Senior Night” team captain, Clara Hubbard, of Westfield, and coach Kyle Dulude during pre-game ceremonies Wednesday night at Bullens Field. (Photo by Chris Putz)

Earlier this season, a senseless tragedy claimed the life of a high school student at Southwick Regional High School. The student’s death rocked the local community, especially those close to the victim at Westfield Technical Academy High School where several of his friends played for the Tigers boys soccer team.
This past June, Clara Hubbard, a sixth grade student at Westfield Intermediate School, was diagnosed with cancer. Hubbard is now in the midst of a two-year treatment of chemotherapy and radiation.
At once strangers on roads less traveled, Hubbard and the Tigers soon found common ground through adversity, all leading to a beautiful relationship that leads to a path of healing.
Hubbard’s physical education teacher at the school, Westfield Technical Academy boys soccer head coach Kyle Dulude drew inspiration from Hubbard’s story. Coach Dulude was drawn to her warm personality and heroic efforts to battle her illness, and arranged a relationship between Hubbard and his team.
Every day, one member of the Tigers brought Hubbard a card, encouraging her to get better. Hubbard’s response to each of the Westfield Tech soccer players – do better. She would record videos for the team, letting each of the players know that she was getting better, and telling them to be strong.
In his postgame comments, following Westfield Tech’s 6-0 shutout of St. Mary’s on “Senior Night” Wednesday at Bullens Field, coach Dulude said: “Every day, we have little meetings before practice, after practice about just doing the right thing and being a good person. With Clara this year and our team, she helped us be better people. She reminded us how important life is and how fragile it can be, and how it’s important to be there for everyone. …She has no brothers. Now she has 27 brothers.”
In the face of adversity, Westfield Tech ended up finishing the regular season 12-1-1. Whether or not the Tigers go on to win another Massachusetts Vocational Athletic Directors Association State Vocational Championship or make another deep run at a Western Massachusetts final, Dulude said, “Win or lose, I feel like these guys have won the overall picture of life.”

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