About a month ago, my son showed me something he had seen online. It was from the Northport Boys Lacrosse Booster Club, spreading the word about the return of The Alumni Game (I guess they had not played one, in a couple of years, due to Covid). The posting had a photo of the Jerseys that would be issued. These were very special Jerseys, memorializing Louis Acompora and Chris Scherer, both of whom were Northport Lacrosse Players. Louis died in March of 2000, when he was struck in the chest with a shot, during his first High School Game. Chris was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps, and was killed in action in Iraq, in July of 2007.
I think most people who are involved in Lacrosse, know Louis’ story and know at least something about the tremendous work that his parents have done to educate the sports world about Commotio Cordis, and to get AED’s (automatic external defibrillators) at games. Every year since 2008, on Memorial Day, the Scherer family has organized the “I Did The Grid” road race in East Northport, to honor Chris and all of America’s fallen service men and women. My son works with Chris’ sister Megan, and has run the race several times.
So when I saw that Facebook Post, I said that I was going to go play in the game this year. I used to play almost every year, but it has been MANY YEARS since I last played and based on the past couple of Thanksgiving Day Football Games, my immediate concern was the likelihood of me getting injured. I tried to get some running in during the weeks prior to the game, and even got a little Wall Ball in last week! But I knew I was in no way, actually ready to try to “play lacrosse”!
That is why I was nervous Saturday morning. I did not want to get hurt and did not want to embarrass myself. So I wore my Diamond Dogs Reunion Shirt for good luck and protection!
The game itself went fine, I ended up playing way more than I ever thought I would, and since we did not really have a ton of players – I even played Midfield (shame on some of my young teammates, who only played Attack)! At least until I got torched trying to defend against some young guy – after that I would only play Attack. As a Coach I loved to tell players “there is a difference between being on the field, and being in the game”. With that in mind, I tried to actually “play” and not just take up space. I am not sure how that worked out, but it sure felt good to be out there again, and of course now, I am contemplating trying to play again (maybe the Lake Placid Tournament next month). If I do decide to attempt playing more, I will need new cleats, as the soles on my old ones broke during the game. I was happy to be able to tape them up, and continue playing.
The best part of the game, was the spirit in which it was played, and the sense of camaraderie, I think we all felt (I know I felt it). I was by far the oldest “player” there, and I only knew a couple of Alumni (who did not play), but I felt right at home and really enjoyed the pre and post game banter (not to mention, the in game, sideline chatter). Northport has built a great Lacrosse Tradition and though I played well before the Championships, I do feel like I am part of the greater Northport Lacrosse Community. For me, playing in memory of Louis Acompora and Chris Scherer, made it all the more special. I am already looking forward to next year’s game.