Lacrosse participates in ‘For the Love of Lax’

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Courtesy of Florida Tech Athletics

Besides their accomplishments as a sports team, Florida Tech’s men and women Lacrosse teams are expanding their perspective by stepping out and helping others who are not as lucky as themselves. Currently, both teams recruited a Team IMPACT child, and they volunteer for Love of Lax events.

Team IMPACT is a program that matches less fortunate children with college sports teams to give them the chance to go beyond their boundaries and gain more experience in life that cannot be learned in classrooms.

Both team have their own IMPACT kid, named Will and Sasha: that they are a part of the team and probably their biggest fans.

Will is an eleven-year-old child with a great sense of humor, unlimited energy and a big heart. He has Primary Immunodeficiency Disease, Mitochondrial Disease, and Chiari Malformation. These conditions make it hard for him to enjoy most of the outdoor sports he’s interested in, and sometimes even cause him to do weekly infusions of blood due to his weak immune system. His body also gets heated up pretty easily, which prevents him from being active for too long.

Even with all of these obstacles, he still finds a way to do everything eleven-year-old children do and enjoy. He likes to play video games, read, watch TV and to swim. He spends a lot of time with his family, and he loves to be a part of the fundraisers and blood drives his family hosts.

“I like to be a part of this because I like to help people, and it feels good to make a difference,” he said.

Men’s Lacrosse coach Ryan McAleavey said that the team is not only teaching Will how to play lacrosse, but Will is also teaching the team to accept challenges by becoming a true inspiration for all of them.

He tells that when the team first met Will a year ago in October just a week before their game at Tampa, Will immediately bonded with the team. On the match day, he was among the crowd supporting them.

“It was a tough game and we were losing, losing pretty hard,” McAleavey said. “It was halftime and I was giving my speech to the team to motivate them. Suddenly someone split the crowd and comes up into the center.’’

Among all of the huge team members, there he was looking up on them — and he only said one thing, making the team realize they have to empty their thoughts, go to the field and play like a team. Even though they lost by only one goal, McAleavey said that he shook the team up and encouraged them to play better.

This is only one of the scenarios where Will inspired the team to be better. A few weeks ago, he made a shovel for the team. He wrote WillPower on it, which was first used by one of his mother’s friends who ran a marathon for him.

All of the members signed the shovel, but this is not even the most touching part: he also wrote “Dig deep” at the head of the shovel and said to the team that, “When the obstacles get too hard, you have to dig deeper,” encouraging all of them to never stop working hard in order to win the match.

“When women’s Lacrosse Team Coach Corinne Desrosiers came with the idea of having IMPACT kids, I literally jumped in to the opportunity,” said McAleavey, explaining that he has a master’s degree in special education and working with these children was something he always wanted to do.

He more than happily states that the team is aware of how lucky they are to be able to play the sport they love without having any obstacles stopping them, and that they’re learning about how the world cannot be fair to everyone all the time.

On the other hand, Team IMPACT is not the only way teams help community. As well as keeping a constant relationship with people in The Scott Center for Autism Treatment at the university, taking the kids outside and spending time with them, the team also volunteers at the “For the Love of Lax” camps.

One day, Coach McAleavey received a phone call from a local high school girl, Taylor Canavan, asking him if the team would participate in her senior project.

The project, For the Love of Lax,” basically aims to merge children with and without disabilities with lacrosse players to teach them the basic Lacrosse skills, friendship and diversity. These camps take place twice during a week during November and all the equipment needed is provided for every child. Besides being a great opportunity to teach lacrosse to more people, it’s also a lifelong lesson, showing how not everyone has the same life standards.