On May 1, New Trier and Glenbrook South met on the Titans’ field. The game was important in the Central Suburban standings, but for both schools, the goal of the contest wasn’t just about beating their conference rivals. They each had a greater opponent, one that takes on not only high school-aged females on the lacrosse field, but boys and girls across the country.
The opponent is pediatric cancer, and both schools have made it top priorities to do their best to defeat it this season.
For the Trevians, their way of beating this awful disease is through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Started in 2004, when Northwestern University’s women’s lacrosse team adopted 9-year-old Jaclyn Murphy, who had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor; the foundation pairs sick kids with high school, collegiate and professional teams. New Trier assistant coach Ann Elliot heard about the program from Wildcats coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, and in 2008, the school adopted 8-year old Ainsley Jacobson, a local girl who was fighting brain cancer. The team sent her care packages, called her in the hospital and allowed her to be on the sidelines and in locker rooms during games. According to Trevians head coach Peter Collins, the impact made that season has carried with the program ever since.
“We were one of the first high school programs to be involved with Friends of Jaclyn, and it’s been really cool to see the impact it’s made,” Collins said.
“How cool it was to have a little kid around – what an impact that makes on everyone.”
New Trier began playing cancer awareness games in 2008, and last season they played their first against Glenbrook South. The Titans raise money for a fund called Team Will Power, named in honor of Will Hicks. A former GBS student, Hicks passed away in 2010 at age 25 following a brain tumor. His sister Lily played lacrosse, and since his passing, the school’s team has raised money and played in his memory.
“We were approached last year by New Trier to do a cancer awareness game, and it made perfect sense for us,” said Titans coach Annie Lesch. “It’s an issue that is still very near and dear to our hearts. Will’s cousin Connie plays for our JV team, so it is still connected deeply to our school.”
The Trevians won the game 13-6, but on that Wednesday evening, the winners weren’t displayed on the scoreboard. New Trier wore pink and Glenbrook South wore neon yellow, both colors representing the causes each side was playing for. Between Friends of Jaclyn and Team Will Power, the two schools are trying to make an impact against an opponent that has resulted in far too many sad defeats.
“We went out to compete, but it shows there’s more to life than just sports,” Lesch said. “Now that we’ve established this, I hope these schools can play a cancer awareness game every year.”