The students of Patchogue-Medford High School competed on Feb. 25 for a cause better than Olympic gold.?Rallying in support of a community member with cancer, 157 students participated as team members in a floor hockey tournament, the first of its kind held at the high school.
Twelve teams of students arrived at the tournament, an event called Stick it to Cancer, on Tuesday evening, dressed in uniforms of various colors and armed with hockey sticks.?They were there not only for friendly competition, but also to benefit Danielle Fischetti, a 10th-grade student diagnosed with cancer last year.? The fundraiser was suggested and organized by Patchogue Medford senior Ryan Murphy.
Although Murphy had never met Fischetti prior to the night of the tournament, he had heard about her diagnosis and saw the event as a way to send her and her family a positive message.
“I wanted to help put her and her family at ease,” he stated at the tournament, “And to prove that she has a whole community backing her fight and helping her cause. I wanted her to know she’s not alone in this.”
Murphy began to consider the idea of a school-wide floor hockey tournament after observing students’ enthusiasm while playing the game in gym class. ?“I thought, why not take something fun and put it towards a great cause?” he said.
The turnout exceeded his most optimistic expectations; the number of teams signed up to compete was twice the anticipated number before Murphy and his faculty advisors closed the tournament to further competitors. Equally shocked by the student body’s overwhelming response was Fischetti, who attended the event.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” she said, looking agog at the attending crowd. “It’s nice knowing I have something to come back to, and nice to know there are people who care.”
Word of the tournament reached as far as the New York Islanders. During a brief ceremony at the event, faculty advisor Angela D’Amico presented both Murphy and Fischetti not only with certificates of achievement sent by the NHL team, but also with VIP tickets for an upcoming game.?
Murphy was proud to present Fischetti with $1,450, earned solely from event presales.?Ticket and T-shirt sales during the tournament brought in another $1,435, which will also be donated to the Fischetti family.
The floor hockey tournament served the additional purpose of uniting the diverse Patchogue-Medford High School community by the common bonds of its passion, both for taking care of its own and for friendly athletic competition.
“I’m busting with pride that so many students are participating,” said D’Amico before the event began. “We have all social groups here, even ones that wouldn’t normally interact with one another. Students who don’t normally participate in anything are getting a chance to shine, to leave high school having been a part of something.”
Participants shared D’Amico’s excitement, playing one another with enthusiasm and sportsmanship as the bracket narrowed. Between playoffs and semi-finals, a special game was held between the Patchogue-Medford faculty and custodial staff, the latter team emerging as the clear victors.
Student team HCL won the tournament championship in a 1-0 game against the Benders after an impressive showing throughout the evening. The team consisted of Captain Frankie Lewando, Chris Bowe, George Hansen, Martin Strunk, Eugene Stumme, Dom Cassella, Mike Ida, Remy Smith, Dan Reyes, Kevin Morrissey, coach Jessica D’Amico, and manager Michaela Collins.
Stick it to Cancer was made possible by wide support from members of the high school community. Faculty, security and student volunteers came together and collaborated to ensure the success of the event, demonstrating the strength of a united front in furthering a worthy cause.
Story By: MARGARET-ANNE LOGAN ,
26 February 2014