WESTFIELD, NJ — The day after Thanksgiving, alumni of Westfield High School’s lacrosse program took time to sweat off any added pounds from turkey and mashed potatoes with an alumni lacrosse game.
“This is the first year we are holding the event,” said Patrick Touhy, head coach of the varsity boy’s team at WHS and class of 2000 alum. “We weren't sure what to expect.”
The game, played at Gary Kehler Stadium, turned out to be less about the score and more about the family ambiance that permeates the holiday season.
“It’s awesome to be back with the guys again,” former midfield player Nick Arnold told The Alternative Press.
Many of the 27 alumni in attendance were recent graduates of WHS, and substantial percentage of them continue to play lacrosse at the collegiate level. It was no wonder, then, that at the game was a representation of premier athletes from schools across the nation, including Christian Burgdof of the University of Denver Pioneers. As the defender related, the timing of the reunion during the Thanksgiving holiday offered a perfect means of rehashing high school friendships.
For some, the alumni game required shaking off a bit of dust—attendees included graduates from as far back as the 1980's. Transitioning from office jobs to playing with more recent athletes brought a new level of competition as the master-student dynamic took hold of the field.
“I had not played lacrosse in five years,” admitted class of 1997 alum Drew Stotler.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere was one of intense competition, as if the NJSIAA tournament were in the balance. As players traded playful jabs, they seemed to draw upon the competitive fire fostered in WHS’s lacrosse program.
As their families chatted about their holiday plans, the players agreed to maintain contact and plan future get-togethers.