Patchogue, N.Y. - The St. Joseph's College women's lacrosse team hosted their Inaugural Veterans Recognition Lacrosse Jamboree on Sunday, November 10 at Danzi Stadium. Ten high school teams came for an afternoon of playing "7 v. 7" lacrosse, while at the same time honoring local veterans in an opening celebration to the day.
The Golden Eagles team decorated the entranceway to the field, with special messages to the veterans. As the ceremony began, over one hundred lacrosse players gathered at midfield with their lacrosse sticks to form an impressive canopy through which the veterans strolled proudly. As they walked through the seventy-foot long tunnel, amidst cheers from the players and the fans in the stands, the vets displayed heartfelt gratitude. It was clear they were touched by the display of affection from all those gathered.
Each veteran was introduced individually to the crowd, receiving a warm round of applause. The veterans included:
- Ed Henic. who served in the Special Forces of the U.S. Army from 1987 -1990
- Tom Valentino, a 2nd Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy who served in Desert Storm 1.
- Sal Leone who served in the U.S. Coast Guard during Vietnam
- Robert Cousin, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force from 1979 – 1987
- Pat Hughes, a U.S. Army Infantryman in the 173rd Airborne Unit in Vietnam
- John C. Fleischauer, 1st Class in the U.S. Air Force from 1960 -1964.
After an emotional rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, the veterans joined the Golden Eagles women's lacrosse parents and head coach Bob Vlahakis for a luncheon in their honor. As they sat around discussing their military experiences, the lacrosse event started on the fields.
As one veteran noted after walking through the tunnel of players, "I never got this kind of reception in California when I came home from the Vietnam War." It was truly an inspirational ceremony for all involved.
The Jamboree included a full day of lacrosse with ten Suffolk County high schools participating. Bay Shore, Patchogue, Sayville, Longwood, Bellport, Connetquot, West Islip, Ward Melville, Shoreham-Wading River, and Sachem North all sent teams to participate in the "7 v. 7" scrimmages for almost five hours straight, with three games going on simultaneously, side-by-side on the field.
The St. Joseph's College team supervised the sidelines, manned the press box and the lacrosse parents sold food and refreshments. In addition, the St. Joseph's coaching staff ran free clinics throughout the day. Assistant coaches Brie Claire Drost from Shoreham-Wading River High School and LIU Post and Julie Bernatzky from Mt. Sinai and SUNY Geneseo, supervised the clinics which were open to all in attendance.
"All in all it was a fun and enjoyable day for all in attendance!" said Vlahakis.
Click here for a video of the ceremony - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ui0qmRqOi8