Onlookers couldn’t possibly ignore the lime green lacrosse game.
The Gaels and Toronto Varsity Blues men’s lacrosse teams sported the vibrant colour in a fundraising exhibition match at Tindall Field. It’s the trademark of the HEADstrong Foundation, an organization which raises awareness for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
HEADstrong was created in memory of Nicholas Colleluori, a former Hofstra University lacrosse player, who passed away from the blood disease in 2006.
Saturday’s game was part of the HEADstrong tradition born in 2006, kick-started in Pennsylvania, which boomed throughout the lacrosse community.
“Through the chemotherapy [Colleluori] lost his hair, so HEADstrong was born,” said Saturday’s organizer and fourth-year Queen’s player Ryan Zoehner. “We’re just trying to bring it up to Canada and raise some money.”
Zoehner said Saturday’s matchup was the first ever Headstrong game played north of the border. He said the total amount raised was $2,644.
“Talking to the [HEADstrong] officials, they were very excited about it,” he said. “It was the first of its kind in Canada.”
The lime green apparel was visible pre-game as the Gaels hosted a clinic for 43 local youth players. Zoehner runs similar weekly sessions at the upper ARC gyms as part of the FUN lacrosse initiative he spearheaded earlier this month.
Zoehner said the clinics are all about growing the game – having fun before developing skills.
“Players use a plastic stick and plastic ball and don’t have to wear protective equipment,” Zoehner said. “Basically we’re just giving them a chance to try out the sport.”
The program especially targets the abundance of local hockey and soccer players in Kingston. Zoehner said those athletes take to lacrosse easier than others.
“I stayed in Kingston last summer and noticed surprisingly not many kids were interested,” he said.
FUN lacrosse is in its third season of operation and Zoehner expects it to continue.
“We have very passionate players here at Queen’s,” Zoehner said. “We just want to drive and instill that same passion in them.”