Faculty, staff and students at the University of Hartford honored Melissa Marchese as classes resumed on campus last week.
Melissa, a standout softball player at Shoreham-Wading River, was about to start her freshman year at Hartford before a tragic car crash in June claimed her life on the eve of her high school graduation. She was 18.
“UHart Helpers,” who guided students around campus, wore welcome T-shirts with Melissa’s initials on the sleeve. They said: “Remembering SH/MM.” The university also honored Solomon Hayes, a junior who died in June in an accidental drowning in Connecticut.
Melissa had signed to play on the Hartford softball team.
While head coach Angie Churchill never got the chance to coach Melissa, she said she will always be a part of Hartford.
“Although this is an excited time for Hartford softball, we have heavy hearts because we are always going to be missing a Hawk,” Ms. Churchill said in a statement. “Melissa will be someone we are playing for and know she will be helping us along the way. We will be doing other things throughout the season to honor her and what she means to Hartford. She will always be a part of Hartford and what we do here.”
Melissa planned to major in Early Childhood Education in the school’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions. Melissa had recently attended orientation before the crash.
Director of Athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie said in June that Melissa was excited to begin competing at the Division I level as a member of the school’s softball team.
In addition to softball, Melissa was a standout on the girls basketball team at Shoreham.
Photo caption: Hartford assistant softball coach Hannah Ford, left, answers students’ questions while wearing the T-shirt with Melissa’s initials. (Credit: University of Hartford)