Play Like Connor Today
Ohio State will always remember Connor Senn. As a freshman walk-on defender for the men’s soccer team in 2001, the Granville, Ohio, native quickly worked his way into the starting lineup. Teammates liked his unique combination of competitive streak and easy- going nature. When Connor played a match at the University of Akron, he collapsed suddenly on the field and died later that night due to an undetected congenital heart defect.
In memory of his son, Dr. Lance Senn—a member of Ohio State’s tennis team in the early 1970s and a 1975 graduate of the College of Dentistry—launched the Connor Senn Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund grew over the last decade through gifts from family and friends, as well as proceeds from the annual Connor Senn Memorial Match—an exhibition game at which the Buckeyes play the Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew each spring. A popular silent auction brings in funds with a variety of autographed memorabilia from Ohio State coaches and former athletes now playing in the professional leagues.
Now fully endowed, the Connor Senn Memorial Scholarship Fund supplements the educational costs for student-athletes playing soccer and pursuing undergraduate degrees at Ohio State. Two scholarships are awarded annually—one male and one female senior high school player—with the goal of attracting players who exhibit determination, drive, and spirit similar to Senn. In addition, an educational symposium on sudden cardiac arrest was launched for the public and medical communities alike, thanks to a partnership with Ohio State’s Dorothy M. Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute. The program highlights such topics as advancements in diagnostic imaging and testing, and the need for proper training for interpreting electrocardiograms in young adults.
In honor of Senn, a plaque hangs outside the Buckeye locker room at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. On the wall inside, his chair is mounted as a symbol of remembrance for today’s players. All players on the 2001 team signed the chair with personal messages to their teammate to pay tribute to his tremendous work ethic, positive attitude, and selfless play.
As time continues, new generations of Buckeyes fill out the Ohio State roster. Head coach John Bluem shares the story of Connor Senn and reminds team members about the challenges they face when taking the field. He notes that Senn’s history has been woven into the culture of Ohio State soccer and that research has created a better understanding of the genetics behind sudden cardiac arrest. As a result, improved and more cost-effective imaging modalities can detect issues with cardiac structure and cardiac electrical activity resulting in susceptibility to arrhythmias.
Before each game, as teammates lace up their cleats and prepare to take the field, Bluem reminds them of the team’s motto: “Play Like Connor Today,” he said.
To give to the Connor Senn Research and Symposium Fund on Congenital Heart Disease in Athletes: giveto.osu.edu/connorsenn.