The John Mack Southern Tier Shootout gives young lacrosse players a head start on the spring season, but it is also exposes them to a worthy cause.
“I’ve been around lacrosse my entire life and I always try to give back,” Emmaus (Pa.) Sting coach Eric Dorn said. “We got a great group of kids and we wanted them to be introduced to what this cause is all about.”
Dorn’s Sting is one of 95 teams taking part in the John Mack Southern Tier Shootout this weekend at the Greater Binghamton Sports Complex. The goal of the tournament is to raise money to buy defibrillators for lacrosse clubs and non-profit organizations to have on site.
John Mack was a junior at Binghamton High School when he went into cardiac arrest after being stick-checked in the chest during a BC Lacrosse Club game. It took 19 minutes to get a defibrillator to the site, and Mack died two days later on Nov. 30, 2006, at the age of 17. While no one knows if a defibrillator could have saved his life, having one would have increased his chances.
The tournament, as well as the John Mack Foundation, has helped purchase about 75 defibrillators in the past six years. Tournament organizer Rob Mack, John’s uncle, said the record turnout for this year’s event should be enough to buy up to 12 more defibrillators. Rob said previous tournaments would raise money for as few as three, but defibrillators have become more affordable and tournament participation continues to increase.
The Sting’s junior high team, based outside Allentown, Pa., and about 65 out-of-town squads traveled to the tournament. The Sting finished 3-0 Saturday and are signed up to play more games today.
“It’s an awesome event,” Dorn said. “The indoor facility and the talent make it a great tournament. It provides a little team building for the guys, and it’s a chance to get everybody loosened up and get their sticks in their hands.”
It was the Sting’s first year attending the event but there are many returnees from past years. The Ottawa Capitals, a club made up of players from eastern Canada, participated for the second straight year in several age groups.
“It’s a nice tournament, a great way to break up the winter,” said Capitals’ junior high coach Jay Fox, whose older son played there a few years ago with another Canadian team. “Any time you can match a good cause with a lacrosse tournament it’s something I want to be a part of.”
The tournament fields teams as young as 10 years old and also has a grand masters division for men 45 and older. It continues today with more youth divisions and girls divisions. About 1,300 athletes will participate over the two days.
“You don’t necessarily think of Binghamton as a hotbed of lacrosse but when you see this it certainly feels that way,” Fox said. “Because it’s … 5-on-5 in the offensive zone, it’s a lot like box lacrosse at home so we usually do pretty well here.”