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The green and gold elves of Sac State Men’s Soccer “strike” again


Sac State Hornet’s Men’s Soccer team visitors included coach Pedro and players Luis, Benji and Mack, pictured here with Celeste. Not pictured: coach Mike Linenberger and wife, Michelle, organizers of the 17-year-long tradition.

Memories of holidays past are often the most precious. For children who are hospitalized during December, those memories can be even more meaningful. This is certainly the case for Celeste Taylor.

Diagnosed with a chronic illness at an early age, Celeste found herself spending Christmas as a pediatrics patient at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. No kid wants to be hospitalized, let alone during the holidays. But Celeste actually remembers it fondly, thanks to the bevy of activities the staff has planned for the children.

“There was something to do every day,” said Taylor. “It was especially important to have that to look forward to as a kid.”

One of her fondest memories is of a visit from some holiday elves. No, they weren’t sporting curly-toed shoes. They were sporting cleats and were dressed in green and gold! It was the Sacramento State Hornet’s Men’s Soccer team making their annual visit.

She distinctly remembers what the team brought her. A teddy bear. But it wasn’t about the gift.

“When you’re here for a while, you really look forward to seeing new people,” said Taylor. “It’s just nice to have the interaction and I really enjoyed meeting them.”

Fast forward a few years and Celeste found herself back in the hospital this season. Much to her delight, the Hornet elves were on hand to spread some cheer just as they had done so long ago.

“This is our seventeenth year and we are so happy to be here,” said Michelle Linenberger, a nurse educator with UC Davis Health and the wife of long time Hornet’s Men’s Soccer coach, Mike Linenberger. “This visit gives players the opportunity to give back and focus on something bigger than the game.”

Although this time Celeste received a lion rather than a teddy bear (all the stuffed animals were courtesy of Michelle’s parents) and the Sac State team members have changed, one thing remains the same. The Hornet elves know how to deliver the best the holidays have to offer … joy.