Great story of an awesome event taking place in Brewster. My colleague Leah Rae wrote the story.
BREWSTER — The fast-moving, fast-expanding game of lacrosse is on full display this weekend on the fields around John F. Kennedy Elementary School, where 80 girls’ teams are taking part in an annual jamboree, the largest of its kind in the area.
With six fields in play, each team gets to compete four times during the day – not for a title, but for the fun, said Sara DiDio, director of the girls youth program in Brewster, who launched the event.
The time between games offers young players a chance to bond and talk about what to do differently the next time they take the field.
“They come together so much more after a day like this,” DiDio said. “It’s almost like a turning point in the season. Something clicks with the girls.”
The event doubled in size last year with the help of fellow organizers Ed Faitakes and Danny Heintz. Teams come from as far as Brooklyn and Orange County, and there’s a waiting list to participate.
Girls in grades 3, 4, 7 and 8 competed Saturday. Fifth and sixth graders play Sunday. About 4,000 players and spectators are expected to take part.
Traveling around the region for a game is one of the Khadia Ba says she loves about the sport. The tall 12-year-old plays for the Brooklyn Crescents, a nonprofit, Brooklyn-based program that began six years ago for grades pre-K to 8.
“I play tennis as well,” she said. “With this, you’re a team, so you have other people to cheer on. You’re not by yourself, so if you mess up, there are other people who can pick you up.”
For high school players like Ed Faitakes’ daughter Ava, the jamboree is a chance to volunteer and to give pointers to the younger girls.
“You think back,” said the 15-year-old Brewster goalie, who has played since first grade. “I remember playing with the older girls and thinking it was so special.”
Ava helped inspire a new charitable component to the event: $1,500 from registration fees was donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Ava was diagnosed at the end of the season last year with Type 1 diabetes, and is now insulin-dependent.
“Everyone on my team knows, and are really supportive about it,” she said. And her condition hasn’t slowed her down any.
“She’s kept us in so many games,” DiDio said. “It’s amazing.”
Photos courtesy of Frank Becerra Jr / The Journal News. For the full gallery click here.