By Barrett Neale
A marathon lacrosse game at Boys' Latin next month will not only raise thousands of dollars for U.S. servicemen and women, but also should break a world record.
"Shootout for Soldiers" is a 24-hour lacrosse game to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, and it will be held at Boys' Latin from 9 a.m. June 14 to 9 a.m. June 15. The Guinness World Record for the longest continuous men's lacrosse game belongs to the Charlotte Hounds of Major League Lacrosse, who played for 13 hours and 14 minutes at a fundraiser in November 2011.
The idea for Shootout for Soldiers came from a Boys' Latin club called Achieving Change Together. One of the club members is Boys' Latin student body president Tyler Steinhardt, who took ACT's proposal to school administrators.
"I was really persistent," Steinhardt said. "I just kept bugging the administration. Once I got the idea in my head, a 24-hour lacrosse game, I didn't really want to stop. I kept coming at them every single day I could to push this."
Michael Thomas, Boys' Latin's athletic director, said there were a number of factors the school faculty and staff had to take into consideration before agreeing to host the event.
"Part of the experience is for Tyler to understand what it takes for something like this to happen," Thomas said, "both on the administrative side and his side. At schools, there's legality with having events. There's a lot that goes into something like this, whether it's security or the lighting or where you're putting the food and all those other logistics."
It took about four months of working out the details before Steinhardt and everyone involved in planning Shootout for Soldiers could officially promote it. It didn't take long for the news to spread, with endorsements from Paul Rabil, a four-time All-American at Johns Hopkins who was named MVP of MLL in 2011, and Steele Stanwick, a senior at the University of Virginia and the 2011 winner of the Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the best player in college lacrosse.
"It's blown up into something that's way bigger than I ever imagined," Steinhardt said. "I got around 300 e-mails in one day. I never expected that much interest to come like that."
Steinhardt said participants would differ in age and skill level -- from youth league players still learning the sport, to collegiate and professional players in their prime, to middle-aged men playing an organized game for the first time in decades. Athletes are signing up all around the country, brought together by the common goal of raising money to support America's troops.
"The draw is really not lacrosse," Thomas said. "The draw is the warriors and how we can help them. That's really it. Lacrosse is just the avenue."
Shootout for Soldiers will consist of 24 one-hour games, with 10 players on each team playing 12-minute running quarters. Each hour, the players will be divided into two teams, the Stars and the Stripes. There will be pinnies for them to wear when they play, and each participant will get a Shootout for Soldiers T-shirt to keep.
Any male lacrosse player age 10 or older can play if he pays a minimum donation of $20. Some people have asked to play more than one hour, but Steinhardt said he was hoping to have 48 unique teams with 10 subs each, which would mean getting close to 1,000 people to sign up.
The initial fundraising goal was $10,000, but supporters reached that benchmark April 22, just a few weeks after the plans went public. As of May 10, almost 500 people had signed up to play and more than $20,000 had been raised.
Steinhardt said he thought it was possible to raise $50,000, or even $100,000, with registration fees from participants, donations from other supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project and profits from the concessions that will be sold at the shootout.
"If you live in America, you enjoy your freedoms and liberties protected by these servicemen and women," Steinhardt said. "This is a great way to support them."
Steinhardt and Thomas are part of the core group of people staying all 24 hours. Although Steinhardt said he planned to participate in a game, probably during the final hour, Thomas, who played lacrosse at Boys' Latin during the 1980s, said he would just observe and make sure everything ran smoothly.
"It starts at 9 a.m., and I'll certainly be here many hours before that, but it won't be bad," Thomas said. "I'll have plenty of help and the kids keep me going, so it'll be fun. I'm excited to do it."
For Steinhardt, the event brings together two passions of his, sports and community service. At Boys' Latin, surrounded by other talented athletes, he got limited playing time on the varsity basketball team and joined the club lacrosse team after not reaching the varsity level. But he said that had not dampened his enthusiasm for sports.
"I love lacrosse," Steinhardt said. "It's more or less who I am. I'm a huge sports fan. I've played lacrosse since I was 5. … I traveled to Uganda this past summer for two weeks. It was an organization called Fields of Growth that actually brings lacrosse to East Africa, as well as build schools and a lot more other stuff."
After Steinhardt graduates from Boys' Latin, he will enroll in the American University Global Scholars Program. The program is for freshmen passionate about effecting change in the world. Based on Thomas' description, Steinhardt will fit right in.
"[Shootout for Soldiers is] really symptomatic of our kids," Thomas said, "of kids who initiated this themselves, had the foresight to follow through with the plan and then to see this thing come to fruition, all for a great cause. … I know my administration and our teachers and even the other students are proud of that group that started this."
More information about becoming a Shootout for Soldiers participant, volunteer or donor is available at shootoutforsoldiers.com.More Front Row:
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• Under Armour Lacrosse Game Unites Country's Prep Stars
• Baltimore Bohemians: Latest Soccer Venture
• Annual Fiesta 5K Raises $300,000 For ALS Research
• Kopels Form Dad-Son Alliance To Save Sport
Issue 173: May 2012