By Stephen Romano
The best high school lacrosse players from Nassau and Suffolk squared off in the Daniel Daly Cup on June 24—hosted by the Marine Corps—but the week leading up to the event had more of an impact on their lives than any game could.
Team Valor—Suffolk County—defeated Team Virtue—Nassau County—11-10 at Mitchel Field Complex in Uniondale. While the teams battled on the field, they keep in their minds the key values they’ve acquired from spending a week with the Marines.
The Marines wanted to instill Long Island’s top players with core life values that they can use beyond the lacrosse field. Leading up to the game, the players took part in a three-day training camp hosted by the Nassau and Suffolk County Lacrosse Coaches Associations and the Marines.
“Some of the key values that the players learn through this service camp are selfless service, leadership in community and how to give back to the community,” said Sgt. Zachary Scanlon.
“This all for them to grow as individuals and as leaders on the field and off the field.”
The student-athletes participated in community outreach events leading up to the game. Led by the Marines, the players visited a children’s hospital and hung out with kids. Working along side the John Theissen Children’s Foundation, the players interacted with sick children, which according to Sgt. Scanlon, opened up the players’ eyes to the real world.
Complementing their community outreach participation, the players were instructed on leadership skills during a seminar. They were taught some of the Marine Corps’ core values: courage, honor and commitment.
“Continuing to develop themselves is our overall goal,” said Scanlon. “If they take away a part of this, we’ve done exactly what we meant to do for this. We aren’t here to recruit them or put them in the Marine Corps, we are here to make them better for their community.”
Sergeant Daniel Daly—a Glen Cove native—started his decorated career when he enlisted in the Marine Corps on Jan. 10, 1899. Daly is one of only two men to be awarded the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest honor, twice. He served in World War I and is considered one of the biggest heroes of the war.
Kris Clarke, a Chaminade High School alum and John Puckhaber of St. Anthony’s, both Hofstra University lacrosse players, coached Team Virtue. Mineola High School graduate Brian Gaffney and Jason Debenedictis, both St. John’s University players, led team Valor.