HEADstrong’s Great Call Gives Officials One Meaningful Run This Season

HEADstrong’s Great Call Virtual 5K Challenge on Saturday, May 23rd Is Giving Officials One Meaningful Run This Lacrosse Season

For the lacrosse community, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend is one of the most important dates on the calendar. Under traditional circumstances, thousands of lacrosse enthusiasts would flock to host location(s) to witness the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Final Four, an event showcasing the best collegiate teams vying for a shot at the championship and their place in the history books. For referees, being selected to officiate during Final Four Weekend is the gold standard and highest acknowledgement.

This year, a new chapter will be written and for the first time in recent history a champion will not be crowned, the result of the season cancellation due to the COVID-19 world health pandemic. And while the cancellation of the season has hit teams and athletes incredibly hard, there is a group of more than 2,000 men’s and women’s collegiate lacrosse officials who have been deeply impacted. One could argue that referees are the most important people on a lacrosse field. Whether their motivation is rooted in camaraderie, supplemental income, staying healthy or just a love for the game without these amazing men and women the game doesn’t happen.

“The cancellation of the season has posed several obstacles for officials. We’re all eagerly awaiting the return of lacrosse and attempting to use this time productively. During the course of an average lacrosse game a referee will run about 5 miles on average. Most officials will officiate between 15 and 25 contests a season which equates to well over 75 miles that our officials will not be running this year. Our focus is on the health and well-being of everyone in these unprecedented times but keeping our officials in game-shape is a very priority for us.” says Tom Abbott, NCAA National Officiating Coordinator Men’s Lacrosse.

In learning that lacrosse officials nationwide were running, walking, rowing, biking and exercising while eagerly awaiting changes and a return to normalcy, HEADstrong’s team developed a great idea. Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected the officiating community, the HEADstrong Foundation suggested working with the National Intercollegiate Lacrosse Officials Association (NILOA) and the Collegiate Women’s Lacrosse Officials Association (CWLOA) to create a special opportunity to unite these amazing contributors to the game on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020. This was the scheduled date for the 2020 Final Four at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA, just minutes from Nick’s House, a guest residence operated by the HEADstrong Foundation for families in the pursuit of lifesaving cancer treatment.

The HEADstrong Foundation in partnership with NILOA and CWLOA is proud to present: The Great Call Virtual 5K Challenge. The campaign is intended to provide a positive, constructive and philanthropic moment of solidarity for mens and womens lacrosse officials (professional, collegiate, high school and youth) nationwide. Over the past 13 years, the HEADstrong Foundation has built a strong partnership with NILOA and has worked closely with the organization to provide an observation and certification platform through their Fall Event Series, comprising 10 intercollegiate lacrosse events as well as community engagement throughout the year. The Great Call Virtual 5K Challenge is a new opportunity for officials to make a difference with proceeds supporting the essential service mission of the HEADstrong Foundation.

“The Great Call Virtual 5 K Challenge” campaign recognizes contributors who administer men’s and women’s lacrosse games — NILOA and CWLOA men’s and women’s collegiate lacrosse officials. These warriors of the game are missing their season similar to coaches and players across the nation. The CWLOA is excited to partner with NILOA and HEADstrong to support the Great Call Virtual 5K Challenge. Let’s do this, CWLOA officials!” Patty Daley, Executive Director, CWLOA

Officials can register NOW and on Saturday, May 23rd will be encouraged to represent their love for officiating by wearing their whistles, hats and jerseys during the run. While many schools, parks and tracks are closed due to restrictions, participants should run through their neighborhoods, on their treadmills or can even jog in place. The key to this campaign is broadcasting your run via social media and uniting with fellow athletes across the country using #GreatCall2020.

There are 3 easy ways to support HEADstrong, so that they may strengthen their commitment to those at highest risk as they fight cancer:

Register for $20 at https://bit.ly/GreatCall2020
Donate via Venmo @HEAD-STRONG
Donate via www.HEADstrong.org/donate

Campaign: Great Call Virtual Challenge
Organizers: Tom Abbott, Kevin O’Leary and Patty Daley
Date: Saturday, May 23, 2020
Time: 12:00PM EST (Corresponding Time Zone)
Registration Link: https://bit.ly/GreatCall2020
Donation: $20.00
Social Handles: #GreatCall2020 @HEADstrongFND

“As lacrosse officials, we are proud to stand with the HEADstrong Foundation and their relentless commitment to serving the needs of families at the highest risk of COVID-19 as the result of cancer. Like so many, we are deeply missing the game we love and are looking forward to rallying our community in the most productive way possible. Through the Great Call Virtual 5K Challenge all lacrosse officials nationwide will have the opportunity to make the most important call on what would have been Final Four Saturday!” said Kevin O’Leary, Executive Director of NILOA

“The recent health pandemic has only added a layer of complexity as our immunosuppressed patient population is at critically high risk, simultaneously their necessary treatments including chemotherapy, proton radiation, bone marrow, stem cell transplantation and imperative scans are being postponed and backlogged. Between oncology teams transitioning to emergency rooms to meet the influx of patients to exposure related issues resulting in quarantines, the next few months are going to be really difficult for those in a preexisting fight and getting them the necessary treatments that they need. The economic climate is also taking a major toll on our families as many are losing their employment as the result of COVID-19. We are standing by these families and proudly playing our position through the storm,” said Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s Mom

For more information on the Great Call Virtual 5K Challenge or the HEADstrong Foundation, please visit www.HEADstrong.org.