The Gloucester High and Manchester Essex boys lacrosse teams will both be seeking their first wins today in games against Haverhill and Swampscott, respectively.
But regardless of those outcomes, both teams and their school athletic staffs have proven themselves winners even before the opening faceoff of their head-to-head game Saturday night.
That's because the Saturday night game, set for 7:30 at Manchester Essex's Hyland Field, is being billed as a Coaches vs. Cancer benefit, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
The benefit game has come about through the efforts of athletic directors Kelly Procaro of Manchester Essex and Kim Patience of Gloucester — and because of the friendly rivalry and working relationship between Gloucester coach Drew Dominick and Manchester Essex's Nate Levie, who played for Dominick, then served as an assistant under him at Gloucester High School before taking the job as leader of the Hornets.
Beyond the game itself, the cause hits home for both coaches, as it does for so many families around Cape Ann and beyond. Levie noted that both of his grandmothers had battled cancer, and Dominick's father passed away from cancer last year. In that sense, the game — like the Relay For Life itself — is a tribute to them, and raises awareness of the ongoing quest for a cure.
At the same time, however, the game spotlights these school athletic programs and student-athletes who are indeed a source of pride for their schools and home communities alike. Here's hoping this special match-up draws the support that these athletes, their coaches and this worthy cause richly deserve.