SOMERVILLE, NJ - To keep his team connected and motivated, Immaculata Boys Lacrosse Coach Ryan Licht of Branchburg meets with his 27 players via Zoom every Wednesday. They discuss keeping in shape and game strategies and Licht also has guest speakers (college coaches and professional players and coaches) discuss lacrosse with his players.
During one such session, the question arose: What can we do as a team to help the community during this crisis? Senior Nick DiPaolo of Flemington and sophomore Jack Morris of Hillsborough did research, which they presented to Licht. According to DiPaolo, “I found an article about Canadian Boy Scouts creating ear bands from 3D printers. We couldn’t do that, but we could easily and remotely work on specially designed headbands.”
Morris asked his mom, Erin, who is a clinical care technician at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital/Somerset, if these headbands would be helpful and her response was an overwhelming “Yes.”
Licht and the Spartans embraced the idea.
The headband kits, which involve sewing strategically placed buttons to hold the elastic band from the face masks worn by the hospital staff, were distributed (with social distancing) at the school. A high school, college, and professional lacrosse player, Licht had never called upon his sewing skills, learned at middle school in Bridgewater. But in a team zoom session, Licht taught his team the art of sewing buttons.
Jack Morris joked about learning this life skill. “We now know how to sew buttons. That may come in handy one day.”
Within a day of their sewing lesson, the team had produced 200 headbands. “We enjoyed it,” says DiPaolo, “it felt good to give back to the community.” Jack’s mom made arrangements for the donation at the hospital.
“I put the box of headbands at the employee check-in at the hospital,” says Erin Morris, “and they were gone in just over an hour. Our staff was so grateful to the Immaculata team.”
Alumna Jennifer Miller Weidemann ’91 of Piscataway, one of the headband recipients, was excited about the Spartan connection. “The staff and I were so grateful to receive the donations of headbands from the IHS lacrosse team; it was like Christmas. Once the word got out, staff were coming down from their units to check them out. Wearing a mask for 8, 10, 12 hours a day really irritates the sensitive skin on the ears. Thank you for the support, Immaculata."
Athletic Director Tom Gambino is proud of the team’s efforts. “Immaculata is based on four pillars: Faith, Scholarship, Service, and Friendship. This was a perfect blend of service and friendship and a terrific way to thank our medical personnel and essential workers. “