BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team took time out of its busy schedule last Wednesday to make a difference in the local community. As a team, the Mountain Hawks worked at South Mountain Park, hauling fallen tree limbs, logs and braches out of the main park areas, pavilions and the Frisbee golf course. The squad continues to pride itself in making a difference in the Bethlehem community.
“It has become tradition for our team to kick-off the school year by helping our friends at the city of Bethlehem,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “[Bethlehem Recreation Administrator] Jane Persa and her staff always come up with challenging, yet exciting, projects for us to tackle. This year was no different. Watching our 50 plus players and coaches use teamwork, leadership, and communication skills to accomplish some difficult tasks in the backwoods of South Mountain Park was fun to watch and the end product of cleaning up the park and making it a safer environment for the people of our great city was highly rewarding for all of us.”
The park was in disarray after a recent storm, so the Mountain Hawks split into different groups. One worked together to remove the large trees and sticks while the other loaded them into the truck.
“I think we made a pretty big impact in the Bethlehem community,” said senior midfielder Brian Hess. “For some of these projects, Bethlehem simply doesn't have enough manpower to do these tasks and with such a large team, we can accomplish a lot in a short time period. It was nice to help the community out and make sure these public parks are in good shape so the residents can go there with their families and have fun. I think the Bethlehem community really appreciates this and it’s rewarding to be able to give back.”
This continues a long tradition of community service for the Mountain Hawks as last September, the squad aided in local cleanup efforts following Hurricane Irene.
“I must say, we look forward to having the lacrosse team do a service project every year and always hope we find one challenging enough for them,” said Persa. “We usually try to pick something that our guys just don't get the time to do and also one that is very physical. The South Mountain project was good because of all the trees that have come down from storms in the past couple years, but just wasn't a priority since they were not on streets or sidewalks.”
“I think the fact that community service is so prevalent in our program really shows a lot about our team,” said Hess. “We really do treat community service like a practice and the whole team is expected to put in the same effort that would be required at a practice. Additionally, I think that it shows that we are concerned about more than just ourselves; we try and give back to the community as often as we can. It helps to forge a relationship with the community as well as have the opportunity to leave an impact on more than just the lacrosse field.”
The team started at sunrise and worked continuously for approximately two hours. The Mountain Hawks put in the time amidst a busy fall schedule.
“I think this speaks a lot about the character of the coach and how important he feels it is for the team to work together not only in sports but also in life,” said Persa. “He is teaching them to have a sense of community, leadership and responsibility which will help them not only in their sport, but also in whatever career path they choose after college.”
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