Girls soccer: Boulder retires jersey of late teammate

Panthers honor Cara Calitre in pregame ceremony, go on to beat Mountain Range

Carolyn Calitre, the mother of former ...
Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer
Carolyn Calitre, the mother of former Boulder High School soccer player Cara Calitre who died in a car accident last year, hugs Boulder senior Annie Studebaker (7) during a jersey retirement ceremony while Cara’s father Phil Calitre, second to right, visits with another player before a game against Mountain Range High School on Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Boulder, Colo.

In every place where there is darkness, light will inevitably follow. In every moment of grief, hope won’t be far behind.

On Thursday night at Boulder High School’s Recht Field, that moment of happiness arrived for Phil and Carolyn Calitre who, after losing their 16-year-old daughter Cara in a car accident in January of 2020, found solace with the soccer team she once called family. Prior to her passing, Cara was an integral part of the Boulder High soccer team and Boulder soccer community.

Before their 6-1 victory against visiting Mountain Range, the Panthers retired Cara’s number, No. 16, and gifted a few framed jerseys to her parents. Each Boulder player gave Phil and Carolyn a flower in tribute to the sister they wished could be out on the field with them.

“It obviously means a lot to us,” Phil said. “Right from the get-go, Cara was a player that the coach didn’t even recognize because she was so quiet. That’s how she was: quiet and confident. It’s so nice for the girls and the whole community, really, to have a lot of support.”

Her impact on the team could not be understated as, nearly from the start of her high school career, she contributed for the Panthers in a big way.

“Cara was incredible,” head coach Carlos Real said. “She came into the program, did not have a good tryout because she was shy. She was always hiding in the tryout or whatever. When the season started, we just started to see this explosion from her on the field. She was just this huge personality.

“She lasted two games in the JV and it was two games too long, to be honest. We moved her into the varsity and ever since then, she started and played every single minute for varsity as a freshman and sophomore. It was funny, because she was never about herself, even though she probably was one of the best players on the field. She was a team player, through and through. She never cared about accolades herself, about anything like that.”

Daily Camera file photo
Former Boulder High soccer player, the late Cara Calitre, was honored prior to Thursday’s game against Mountain Range as the team ‘retired’ her jersey number.

The Calitres recently founded Cara’s Wave of Hope Foundation to help athletes and students achieve their dreams. Through the foundation, their goal is to provide scholarships — both in athletics and academics — to aid causes and extracurriculars close to Cara’s heart, including atmospheric science.

“Sports shaped Cara’s life,” Carolyn said. “Sports were her passion since she could walk, so a sports scholarship for kids who can’t afford club sports is what it was mostly for. It’s a lot of fees for travel and for uniforms and for registration, so we’re hoping we can help kids play.”

While the charity is still in its infancy, the Calitres plan to incorporate some sort of Thanksgiving fun run to help raise money for scholarships. They kicked it off recently with some help from GoFundMe.

“It’s to give kids those opportunities and hope in whatever endeavor they might choose,” Phil said. “That’s why we didn’t specify. That’s why it’s not just soccer, it’s swimming or any sport where, ‘Hey, I can’t afford to go travel with my team.’ We don’t know. It’s based on people who had that same spirit that she had, kind of that quiet competitive. The college is more based on the environment and the sports are more based on club for the opportunities to do sports.”

Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer
Boulder junior forward Caitlin Rogers (22) celebrates a goal against Mountain Range with teammates Ava Werner (4) and Lili Balderas-Lujan (2) on Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Boulder, Colo.