TINTON FALLS, N.J. – Sky Blue FC announced Wednesday that former Rutgers University defensive tackle Eric LeGrand will serve as the team’s honorary captain as the National Women’s Soccer League team welcomes the Houston Dash to Yurcak Field Saturday at 4 p.m.
The match is the NWSL on Lifetime Game of the Week. A special halftime ceremony will honor LeGrand.
“It is an honor to be the honorary captain for the Sky Blue FC women’s soccer team,” he said. “I have been a fan of the game for a long time, and I am proud to represent New Jersey with them.”
LeGrand has been a long-time supporter of Sky Blue FC and women’s soccer. He has been a regular attendee at Sky home matches. The team will reciprocate that support at his 7th Annual A Walk to Believe 5K Run and Fun Walk Sunday, June 4, which will take place at High Point Solutions Stadium at Rutgers.
“We are very proud to have such a supportive relationship with Eric LeGrand and his foundation,” Sky Blue FC head coach Christy Holly said. “As we aspire to become a strong representative of New Jersey, Eric LeGrand exemplifies everything that makes people from New Jersey proud to call this state home.”
A native of Avenel, N.J., LeGrand attended Rutgers. His team-first demeanor was emblematic on special teams even after he became a starter at defensive tackle. On Oct. 16, 2010, LeGrand was running downfield on the kickoff team. He reached the ball carrier, but this time the collision rendered him motionless on the field.
After being rushed to the hospital, LeGrand learned that he had suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the neck down. Told that he would never breathe again without the help of a respirator, and never walk again, LeGrand overcame some obstacles. By January 2011, he was breathing on his own and he had also regained movement in his shoulders and sensation throughout his body. Pushing through his physical rehabilitation, he vowed to walk again and has since developed numerous philanthropic initiatives to raise funds for spinal cord injury research.
“Without question, Eric LeGrand is one of the most amazing human beings you will ever meet,” Sky Blue FC president and general manager Tony Novo said. “His strength and perseverance serves as inspiration to so many, and the attitude in which he tackles his everyday life is nothing short of incredible. We are proud to have Eric as our honorary captain this weekend, and we strongly encourage everyone to then join his fight with us on June 4 at A Walk to Believe.”
Team LeGrand of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation was established in 2013, with proceeds going towards research to find a cure for paralysis and helping to improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. To find out more about the foundation, visit them online: TeamLeGrand.org.