The GSB Varsity Boys’ Lacrosse team came together with the West Morris Central High School (WMC) Varsity Boys’ Lacrosse team to host the first ever “Charity Game” on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, which raised over $4000 and awareness for two local charities: Sarah’s Fight For Hope Foundation, the Long Valley First Aid Squad, and a book scholarship for a student at WMC.
Known to be longtime rivals, the two lacrosse teams joined together in creating the event they dubbed “More than a Game!” for the simple fact that sports competitions are, at heart, more than a game. Rivalries, even strong ones, have the power to bring communities together for the greater good.
“The hope of this charity game was not only to raise money for charity but to build up school spirit through giving back,” explained GSB Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse Head Coach Byron Collins. “We want to teach our players on each side to learn the value in “paying it forward.”
T-shirts were co-designed by the two teams and sold to raise money. Spectators proudly wore them to the event in two colors: white for WMC and blue for GSB. While the differing sides sported different colors, the logo and design were the same.
“Personally, my family received some difficult news recently, and the GSB family has done so much to help us get through these tough times,” Coach Collins shared. “We are all part of a larger community, and I believe it’s so important to teach our players that one of the greatest lessons they can learn is to give back.”
The difficult news the Collins family has been coming to grips with is Coach Collin’s wife, Laura, being diagnosed with glioblastoma. Soon after, one of the players on Coach Collin’s club team, who is also on the WMC team, lost his father to a heart attack. These two moments combined with the overwhelming response from their interconnected communities led to the two families to come up with the charity game concept. These moments also drove the decisions behind who would receive the donations.
“We let the moms choose the charities,” said Coach Collins. “My wife chose Sarah’s Fight For Hope Foundation because of their work to enrich the lives of children battling cancer and their families and because my daughter was friends with Sarah before she passed. The WMC family chose the Long Valley First Aid Squad because they did everything they could to save their father.”
After the game, both teams and their families gathered as one for dinner, conversation, and to distribute the monies raised to the chosen charities.
“This game, we hope, will be an annual event with each school hosting every other year,” said Coach Collins. “There are life lessons to be learned from lacrosse, and in this moment, the players learned the value of community and of coming together and paying it forward. That was the real win.”