WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — Teaching athletes values on and off the field is a top priority for Gonzaga College High School. The school’s lacrosse players say the team values family, God and accountability. Each season, to reinforce that message, coaches and parents shift focus from the field to service in the community.
On Wednesday, lacrosse players bustled through the halls on a mission: prep and ship 250 care packages full of comforts from home to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
“With what’s going on in the world, it’s just so nice to see how much people care and want to do good,” said Head Coach Casey O’Neill. “That’s part of the Jesuit mission and the Catholic faith.”
Players on the team brought in supplies to pack boxes for military men and women. Items ranged from toiletries, food and DVD’s to books, hats and signs. The team also sends letters to the troops from the entire Gonzaga community.
“What they get, they care so much about,” said senior attack Timmy Monahan. “It’s really incredible to think about.”
The team said the response it gets from soldiers is inspiring. In eight years of working with different military units overseas, the Eagles have received letters, certificates of appreciation, coins and flags.
“We’ve had two flags that have been flown, one for exactly nine minutes and 11 seconds over Iraq,” said O’Neill.
The service day didn’t end there for the Eagles. After preparing the boxes for shipment, the seniors headed to Children’s National Medical Center to spend time with oncology patients.
“Just showing up for a tour is very easy,” O’Neill said to his players when they arrived at the hospital. “But it’s the doctor’s, it’s the staff, it’s the nurses, it’s the people here that really give back. They’re the ones that are doing the work, so if we can spread knowledge, we can spread communication … we’re doing a little bit of our part.”
O’Neill says the entire day of service is part of teaching the good human spirit, and the players seem to get the message.
“It’s not too hard, especially with a thing like this,” said senior defenseman Michael Borda. “Everybody’s willing to help.”
The team has sent a total of about 2,000 boxes to troops. On May 14, the team will continue its work with Children’s National by participating in Be Brave and Shave, during which the players shave their heads to raise money for the hospital.