Haverford School grad killed in Navy accident
As a standout, multisport athlete at the Haverford School, Max Allen received scholarships to play soccer at top schools across the country. He ultimately settled on Virginia Tech, which reached the semifinals of the NCAA tournament while he was a freshman.
But Allen was not satisfied.
"He saw that as a selfish endeavor," recalled James Kania, Allen's best friend since high school. "He almost felt like he wasn't doing his part to make the world a better place."
So after two years at Virginia Tech, Allen left the school and later enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy, partly inspired by his father's military background, Kania said. Kania recalled almost immediately hearing a difference in Allen's voice, noticing a "sense of greater purpose" that his best friend had never felt on the field at Virginia Tech.
Allen's pursuit of that greater purpose was cut short over the weekend, when he was killed in a car accident on the academy grounds in Annapolis, Md. Anne Arundel County Fire Department divers found his body Sunday while searching his white SUV in College Creek, a tributary of the Severn River near the campus's Nimitz Library.
"It's all just kind of a shock," said Mark Petrone, who coached Allen for four years on the Haverford lacrosse team.
Commander John Schofield, a spokesman for the academy, said it was too early to tell what caused the accident or when exactly it happened over the weekend. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service was looking into the incident as a single-car accident, Schofield said.
Allen, a 25-year-old oceanography major, was expected to serve as a naval flight officer after graduation and commissioning in May. At the academy, he played club soccer.
Kania remembered Allen as a gifted athlete and loyal friend. At Haverford, the two went through the athletic recruitment process together, with Kania eventually deciding to play golf for Kentucky.
Allen's athleticism on the soccer field at Haverford attracted the attention of the lacrosse team, which recruited him as a freshman, Petrone said. Although Allen had little knowledge of lacrosse at the time, Petrone said the freshman had the "right attitude about it all," never dwelling on his mistakes for too long.
"He had a lot to learn right away," Petrone said. "He was just a resilient kid."
Allen went on to win all-Inter-Ac League honors four times and earn the title of league MVP, Petrone recalled.
Over the years, Kania and Allen visited each other when they had the chance, making the nearly five-hour trip between their campuses. It was a far cry from hanging out every weekend, as they did in high school, but Kania said their friendship remained stronger than ever.
"We were always kind of each other's rock," said Kania, now an investment adviser in the Philadelphia area. "I just want the world to know what a big heart he had."