The Toll Gate and Warwick Vets boys’ lacrosse teams have a strong cross-city rivalry, and they’re both looking forward to their only league match-up this season on Tuesday, May 7.
But there is more at play this year than most, as the game – which will count in the standings – will also be played for charity, making it even more important than it’s been in the past.
The teams will be playing for the HEADstrong Foundation, which works toward helping those affected by blood cancer, and finding a way to eliminate the disease.
It’s a foundation that is deeply connected with lacrosse, as its founder – former Hofstra lacrosse player Nick Colleluori – battled cancer until he passed away in 2006.
When Toll Gate head coach Mike Vadney and Vets head coach Fred Schweizer went to the US National Lacrosse Convention in Philadelphia this past January, there was a table set up by the HEADstrong Foundation. The two coaches talked to a representative, got some information and decided on dedicating their game this season to the cause.
It was a cause that made sense on another level too, as Vadney’s mother previously passed away due to blood cancer.
“Knowing that we played each other, we thought it would be a good way to teach the kids that life is bigger than lacrosse,” Schweizer said.
The game will be played at Vets at 3:30 p.m., and will feature a “Lime Out” on the field, meaning everyone will be dressed in lime green colors – the colors of the foundation.
They’ll be using lime green balls, the referees will have lime green flags and the players will have lime green laces in their sticks. Fans are encouraged to wear lime green as well.
Lime green apparel will be sold prior to the game and during the game, with all donations going to the foundation.
Donations will also be accepted at the gate.
It should make for an exciting, and worthwhile day.
“I think the rivalry alone makes this game huge for these boys,” Schweizer said. “Then the opportunity to do something on top of that for a good cause. It’s a chance for them to step outside the box for a day or two. It makes a big game even bigger.”
After the Vets-Toll Gate game, the Vets girls’ lacrosse team will take the field to host Classical at 6 p.m., also as part of the charity event.
For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation, visit www.headstrongfoundation.org.