Last Friday, 20 members of the Yale men’s lacrosse team made the 45-minute trip to Newtown, Conn., to conduct a clinic with the Newtown lacrosse community.
Head coach Andy Shay and his players spent five hours with children ranging from second to eighth grade at the Newtown Youth Lacrosse indoor facility. The Yale players said they aimed to bring a sense of normalcy back to a community still recovering from the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took the lives of 26 people, including 20 children.
“Driving in was pretty eerie and very somber and it made the whole thing feel very real,” sophomore defensemen David Better ’15 said.
Players ran shooting drills for the older kids and gave individual suggestions on how to hone their lacrosse skills. The younger participants played sharks and minnows at the facilityand watched while the Yale athletes demonstrated the plays themselves.
“It didn’t matter if the kids couldn’t play well. It was just nice too see happy faces on the kids,” midfielder John Reese ’16 said.
After the clinic finished, the Elis huddled together with the Newtown lacrosse community and passed out Yale paraphernalia including hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and drawstring bags. Before the team left, it took pictures with the children and coaches from the Newtown clinic.
Team captain Michael McCormack ’13 said the most rewarding part of the trip was when a Newtown coach presented the team with a jersey labeled No. 26. The team said it plans on hanging the jersey in the locker room this coming season to honor and remember the victims of the Newtown shooting.
The Bulldogs said they were proud to know they were able to bring happiness into a community that is in desperate need of positives.
“It felt amazing to be able to give these kids an experience that they will remember from this age in their life instead of just the tragedy,” midfielder Colin Flaherty ’15 said. Flaherty added that coaches, parents and members of the Newtown community expressed palpable gratitute to the Bulldogs.
The Elis face off in a scrimmage against Le Moyne on Feb. 9.