On to Concord: Programs unite for the third time during snowy HLL & Concord-Carlisle Youth Lacrosse Friendship Visit

[gallery] CONCORD-CARLISLE, MA  -  During the weekend of October 28th through 30th, Harlem Lacrosse joined forces with the Concord-Carlisle Youth Lacrosse program for the second year in a row to hold the 2nd Annual FDA and CC Lacrosse Friendship Visit.  Charles Gildehaus - head of the CCYL program- spearheaded the effort, along with Concord-Carlisle lacrosse parents Tim Dibble and Ann Jennings.

The partnership began in 2010 when former CCYL player and HLL Founder Simon Cataldo reached out and organized a team visit to his hometown. The trip included a game under the lights at CCHS Turf Field, apple picking at a local orchard, and a hiking trek to the summit of Mount Wachusett. Last March, the 8A squad from Concord-Carlisle journeyed to Harlem, where they spent a day at Frederick Douglass Academy and faced off against the FDA team at Randall’s Island, NY.

In an effort to increase both the interaction and level of friendly cooperation between the boys over the course of the weekend, organizers for this year’s venture to Concord attempted something unique: home-stays with 15 different CCYL players’ families and mixed-squad games. 36 lacrosse players from Frederick Douglass Academy Middle School Boy’s Lacrosse (selected from over 60 current players) stayed with 15 different families for two nights.

On Friday evening, the boys from Harlem arrived at Concord Carlisle High School, greeted by a stampede of Concord-Carlisle players running alongside the bus. After the FDA boys were quickly assigned to their host families and sent away from their coach, some were astounded by what they found waiting for them at “home”. One group of students had the eye-opening comfort of a renovated barnyard basketball court where they could shoot hoops and play lacrosse until bedtime. “I had the best time of my life there,” exclaimed one FDA 7th grade player. Another group spent the night playing family-style board games, others picked up guitars and formed a makeshift rock & roll group, and others just hung out around the dinner table making quality conversation.

No matter where they ended up sleeping though, one thing remained constant across every home: the families who signed up to host the FDA boys showed them endless support and affection throughout the weekend. “We understand from talking to most of the host families that it was a wonderful experience that will long be remembered,“ commented CCYL President, Charles Gildehaus. “The boys who stayed with us touched our family deeply.”

Saturday activities, while originally hampered by the surprise snowfall that hit the northeast corridor, included a lacrosse clinic at South Meadow Field and apple picking at Honey Pot Hill Farm (Stow, MA).

As snow accumulated around Concord, the CCYL and FDA Lacrosse groups met at CCHS once again, mixing teams and facing off in near-blizzard conditions. While new players from Harlem got their first taste of extreme weather on one lacrosse field, the veterans from each group joined together in a friendly match that went to sudden death overtime. By the game’s conclusion, players were hugging and making snow angels.

Following the picturesque games, a group dinner was held at Verrill Farm in Concord, MA. The farm’s owner, Steve Verrill, transformed the building’s greenhouse into a banquet hall for the purposes of a Saturday evening affair, where the two teams enjoyed the farm’s famous pulled pork, baked beans, and more. The unexpected snowfall forced the group to cancel its originally scheduled Mount Wachusett hike on Sunday morning; however, the extra time allowed families to spend more quality time with their FDA visitors. Some simply took advantage of the weather to build snowmen, carry on snowball fights, and soak in the Massachusetts scenery.

“For three straight days, [CCYL families] established an environment devoid of stress and full of love & structure for every single FDA lacrosse player (and coach) in attendance,” explained HLL Program Director and FDA Lacrosse Coach, Jake Klein. “It was the ideal atmosphere for them to absorb valuable lessons on life, leadership, and hard work.”