More photos are available HERE.
The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team has once again taken time this fall semester to make a difference in the local community. The Mountain Hawks have taken part in a number of community service activities beginning in late August and running through the fall. The team has taken on many initiatives including a Bethlehem Parks clean up, a free lacrosse clinic and regular visits to elementary schools, a child care center and the South Bethlehem Boys & Girls Club.
The Mountain Hawks kicked off the semester with their annual Bethlehem Parks clean up project. This year, the team visited the Bethlehem Municipal Park in North Bethlehem to work on the cross country course. Players spent time digging up shards of concrete, moving tree limbs, logs and rocks, as well as weeding the surrounding area in order to ensure the safety for the local runners on the course. The team broke up into two different groups, where they started on the opposite ends and worked to meet in the middle. After removing the rocks, concrete and logs, the team then loaded them into trucks so they could be removed from the grounds.
“As a team, dividing into two groups and using our collective efforts to better the community resulted in 45 guys helping for only one hour and completing a week’s worth of work,” said senior Ty Souders. “It was a great feeling to accomplish so much in such a short period of time.”
The team also hosted its sixth annual Community Night lacrosse clinic at the Ulrich Sports Complex on September 27. Youngsters of all ages were invited from the local community and surrounding area to come and join the men’s lacrosse team to learn valuable skills by going through drills directed by Lehigh Lacrosse coaches and players. The vehicle for learning was lacrosse, but there were many life lessons taught as well. The entire team (46 members strong) was present to work with approximately 100 youngsters. The player to coach ratio was such that many of the young players received individual instruction and advice.
“It was a ton of fun to get kids out from the local community and work with them for an hour,” said Souders. “They all seemed to have a great time and the numbers have grown significantly every year, which makes it a worthwhile experience for us. They all get to see their skills progress.”
Lastly, not only has the team been giving back to the community as a whole, but they have also been focusing on giving back to the youth of Bethlehem. The Mountain Hawks have been working consistently at the local Boys & Girls Club, the Lehigh Child Care Center, Calypso Elementary School and Donegan Elementary School. The team was split into four groups of 11 or 12 players and each group was assigned to a specific location to attend every Wednesday throughout the fall semester, for one hour per week.
At the Boys & Girls Club, the team members have been playing games and spending time with the children after school gets out. Kickball and basketball have been a big interest for the children as they look forward to every Wednesday when the team comes around. Some have even asked for help on their homework or with studying for an upcoming test.
At the Lehigh Child Care Center, the team is working closely with toddlers and preschoolers, many whom are children of the Lehigh University Faculty and Staff, including head coach Kevin Cassese’s own son. It is always nice to hear that the children go home and tell their parents they had fun and they got to hang out with the men’s lacrosse team. Some favorite activities are reading books, playing with puzzles, hide and seek and duck-duck-goose.
At Calypso Elementary School, the players serve as big buddies to the children who attend the after school program. The first 30-45 minutes serve as a homework/reading club and the final portion of the visit involves games and sports. Kickball is a huge hit for the children and the players at Calypso.
Finally, Donegan Elementary, hosts a program every year called Reading Rocks, where Lehigh student-athletes as well as Greek Life members volunteer every Wednesday to read to the children and help them further their own reading skills. A new addition to this year’s Reading Rocks entails a 15-minute health segment with St. Luke’s Health Network where a few staff members come in and talk to the students about good health. The students recently participated in a Zumba session, which is a dance-integrated work out. The children and players got a kick out of the session.
The Lehigh Men’s Lacrosse team prides itself on giving back to the community. This is something that Coach Cassese says is important to him personally and also to every member of the men’s lacrosse program.
“We are very fortunate to be members of the Lehigh University community, as well as the greater Bethlehem community,” he said. “We love our school and we love our city. We enjoy giving back because it enriches the lives of those around us, and in turn, enriches our own lives as well.”
Story by Cody Newton ’14