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News :: INSIDE LACROSSE MAGAZINE : Cathedral High School Receives Outpouring of Support from Lacrosse Community
Wednesday 28th December 2011
Cathedral High School Receives Outpouring Of Support From Lacrosse Community
Casey Vock December 23rd, 2011
Inside Lacrosse Magazine
On June 1 this past summer, the Cathedral High School boy's varsity lacrosse team was preparing for its upcoming playoff contest against West Springfield. It was a day like any other day for the Western Massachusetts team, that is until head coach Daryl deVillier was told to get his players off of the field and to a safe location.
â€œThis was our second time making the playoffs,â€ said deVillier, coach of the Panthers varsity squad for what will be eight seasons come 2012. â€œWe're pretty strict about being on time, and so the guys were all set to practice and on the field at 3 PM. But our athletic director was telling me we had to go, we had to get off the field.â€
After the players and coaches left the area, the warnings came to a head as an EF3 tornado tore through the Greater Springfield region, causing four deaths and about $140 million worth of damage. Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Part of that damage was the Cathedral High School gymnasium and locker rooms, where the lacrosse team's gear had been stored after the left the field. Debris from the school was found more than 40 miles away, proof of the tornado's winds, which were estimated at 136 to 165 miles per hour.
â€œThe school was basically destroyed,â€ said deVillier, who attended Cathedral himself. â€œIt was devastating. After assessing the damage, I get a call telling me that we're not going to play in that game. I told our assistant athletic director, 'like hell we're not.' When you're knocked down, you have to get back up again. My coaching staff, who are just phenomenal, came together and decided to try to pull all the resources together. Even if we had to play in practice jerseys of some kind, we were going to play.â€
In such a challenging time for Cathedral â€” and the entire Springfield community â€” deVillier said he felt that it would have been a travesty to not play in the upcoming playoff game against the Terriers. Instead, deVillier reached out to those in his local lacrosse network.
â€œThe people in the community really stepped up,â€ deVillier said, adding that the program was able to secure a grant through US Lacrosse to help cover the cost of replacing some of the destroyed or lost equipment.
But the team still needed a quick fix for its playoff game, which was rescheduled for June 4. The Cathedral players then received what was the most moving gesture following the tornado, as leaders of the Suffield program came forward to offer up their varsity jerseys, shorts and helmets.
â€œI made a phone call to a friend at Suffield Academy, and Dave Godin, the AD at Suffield, called me and said, 'Daryl, what do you need?'â€
The story made regional headlines: a high school team donning another school's outfits and gear for its biggest game of the year. Ironically, the Suffield gear had been a donation itself, coming from Prantarit Nerngchamnong, the managing director and founder of Thailand Lacrosse and a Suffield grad. However, the Panthers â€” a team with a great deal of weight on its shoulders in the wake of the freak natural disaster â€” would fall to West Springfield 10-4 to end their season at 13-9 overall.
â€œAfter we lost, I impressed upon the players the fact that people had come to our aid,â€ deVillier said.
And the outpouring of support didn't stop with the end of the Panthers' seasons. deVillier kept working, sending letter after letter to lacrosse equipment manufacturers. He was amazed to get responses from some of the largest companies, including Cascade, Warrior, Under Armour and Gait, all of which donated various equipment and gear.
Even smaller startup companies offered support for the Cathedral program, including Lightning Wear.
Dan Walsh, the president of Lightning Wear, reached out to deVillier, ultimately donating about 70 customized cathedral practice pinnies for both the boy's and girl's varsity lacrosse teams.
â€œThe quality, the lettering, everything â€” Dan just did an unbelievable job,â€ deVillier said. â€œIn Dan, I felt like I had a new friend. His actions are indicative of the kind of people I've met in the lacrosse community after this happened.â€
As the holiday season approaches, deVillier is still working to outfit the junior varsity boy's and girl's Cathedral teams with equipment and athletic wear for the 2012 season. If anyone would like to help, you can contact coach deVillier directly at DdeVillier at msn.com.
Lightning Wear donated 70 pinnies to the varsity girl's and boy's lacrosse programs at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass., after the school was devastated by a freak tornado on June 1. The team received support from some of the lacrosse industry's biggest companies, as well, including Cascade, Warrior and Gait. Shown here are the custom jerseys made for the varsity girl's Panthers squad.