By Jacqueline Jeon-Chapman, Contributing Writer
Region – Wearing camouflage, the Shrewsbury High School lacrosse team played against Wachusett Regional High School [WRHS] in a benefit game called Camo Night May 8 at WRHS's turf field. Together, the two teams raised $1,165 for Project New Hope.
Project New Hope runs weekend retreats for veterans with traumatic brain injuries, veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, female veterans, and their families.
“The money went specifically to people in the Central Mass Area. It was a lot better knowing it's not going to go unnoticed,” said Cole Vincequere, a Shrewsbury High School senior.
Since Project New Hope's staff consists of volunteers, all the money donated goes directly to offering veterans and their families free help.
To raise money, Shrewsbury Lacrosse made camouflage shirts and sold them. The proceeds went as a donation from the team to Project New Hope. The team also wore the shirts under their uniforms.
“The players really like playing in the game and they really respect what the game is about. They commit all out to getting the shirts and then also re-taping their sticks with American flag tape or camouflage tape,” said Shrewsbury Lacrosse Coach Nathan Skermont. “They know that even though they are only in high school they are making a difference in someone's life in the local area.”
The WRHS team used their own money to purchase camouflage jerseys in honor of the game. WRHS raised money through a private donor and through donations made at the gate.
“It is good for kids and all of us to focus on such important causes,” said WRHS Lacrosse Coach Phillip Jackson.
Lacrosse players agree.
“It's good to give back to the people that defend our country, and it's nice to play a game to sponsor them,” said Griffin Couture, from the Shrewsbury team.
According to Skermont, Jackson came up with the idea of raising money through a benefit lacrosse game.
“I think very highly of Wachusett and especially Coach Jackson. He was really the driving force behind this and for him to be kind enough to think of us to be the ones to do the game with on two separate occasions means a great deal to myself and the players,” said Skermont. “Wachusett and Shrewsbury are big time rivals in sports and always get a large crowd, so we figured let's do it for that game and really make the event a big hit and raise a lot of money.”
At the beginning of the game, both teams honored veterans.
“There were alumni brought back from Wachusett, and they were honored on the field before the game. One of our coach's brothers served in the military, and he was also honored,” said Shrewsbury player Tom Aulenback.
At the end of a close game, WRHS won 5-4.
“Shrewsbury has gotten the better of us over the last three or four seasons. The series is probably fairly close since we started playing them back in 2001. Shrewsbury was very strong this year seeding second in Central Mass.,” said Coach Jackson.
Both teams accomplished something much more important than winning.
“I know that each time we’ve played at the end of the day both teams can walk off the field regardless of the outcome knowing that what we did that day was special and for a special cause,” Skermont said.
To register, volunteer or donate, visit http://www.projectnewhopema.org/support-usget-involved/.