Madison West High School to pay tribute to lost teen at soccer match

The details ahead of an emotional soccer game Tuesday night.
Soccer game Tuesday night remembers teen killed in crash
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 9:19 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison West High School soccer team will play Tuesday night against Beloit Memorial High School in an emotional game following the tragic death of three local teens.

There is a tribute planned for the game to remember Madison West’s former soccer captain Simon Bilessi, one of the teens killed in the Middleton car crash Saturday night.

There will also likely be one minute of applause from the crowd during the game, a customary soccer tribute to remember a player. The applause usually comes at a time that quartiles with the player’s number. In Simon’s case, it would be the 13th minute, in honor of his No. 13 jersey, which he proudly wore.

The game will be played on the Madison College Campus, on the Goodman Pitch East.

Simon Bilessi, the soccer player and teammate

Simon Bilessi
Simon Bilessi(Rush Soccer Club)

Simon played for soccer for his high school, and Rush Soccer Club.

Coaches with the Wisconsin Rush Soccer Club spoke with NBC15 Monday. They say Bilessi was not just a talented soccer player with a competitive spirit and fierce love for the game; he was an even better person off the field.

“He didn’t light up a room; he lit up your life,” Rush’s Technical Director Ben John said. “The deep sense of gratitude he had for everything. He was really present. For a 13, 14, 15-year-old to go moment by moment and be so grateful is not something you see.”

Bilessi’s coaches say he immigrated from France. His parents hoped he would have better opportunities for both school and soccer in America.

“He knew what it was like not to have much,” John said. “He knew what it was like not to be close to people you love.”

When Bilessi joined the Rush team five years ago, his coaches say he showed a lot of promise. It was a competitive team, but Bilessi had what it took to keep up.

“It was a very special team,” John said. “One of the top teams in the state at their age group, a top regional team. So it’s really hard to make that team; you’ve got to be really special as a player, and Simon was, so he made the team.”

But Bilessi wasn’t defined by the sport; he didn’t try to be a leader on the team.

“He may not have been a leader, but you felt it hard when Simon wasn’t there,” John said. “There was something else that he brought to the table that was maybe more important than leadership. It was collegiality. It was a strength in numbers.”

Coach Jon Szczepanski says Bilessi’s spirit lifted others up.

“He just made everybody feel welcome,” Szczepanski said. “He just had that infectious personality and the way he made you feel... it was something you saw as it went on he was special that way he had a way of bringing people together and his smile lit everything up, his personality lit everything up.”

The coaches say in his short life, Bilessi managed to live three lifetimes.

“He was an infectious personality that impacted two high school programs and a club program that draws for all over, so he lived three lives in a short time,” John said.

Evan Kratochwill (left) and John "Jack" Miller
Evan Kratochwill (left) and John "Jack" Miller(Middleton-Cross Plains School District)

A GoFundMe is available for people looking to donate to the families of the three victims. The other two victims killed in the crash, Jack Miller and Evan Kratochwill, attended Middleton High School.

Goodman Pitch East is the location of a Tuesday night soccer game that will host events...
Goodman Pitch East is the location of a Tuesday night soccer game that will host events honoring the memory of a teen killed in a crash over the weekend. (Colton Molesky)

The game will be played on the Madison College Campus, on the Goodman Pitch East.

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