Posted: May 1, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Men’s lacrosse head coach Kevin Cassese was recently honored as Lehigh University’s 2008 Ibis of Service award winner. The award is given to a person that exhibits great dedication to a lifestyle of servant leadership. Through their experiences and wisdom this person teaches others how to serve and lead while serving, simultaneously empowering students to reach out to the community and each other. Through an enthusiastic presence this recipient also educates fellow servants first on the needs of the community they are seeking to impact and secondly focuses on doing meaningful action. The award is given by the University’s Community Service Office.
"The young men in our program have shown a consistent and sincere appreciation of the greater community that exists around them outside of the Lehigh University walls,” explained Cassese. “A commitment to community service has become a big part of what it means to be a Lehigh University lacrosse player, and that makes me an extremely proud head coach."
When Cassese took the reigns of the Mountain Hawks program in July of 2007, he immediately began a concerted effort towards getting the Lehigh student-athletes involved in countless Community Service projects ranging from South Bethlehem Clean Up, to Cops & Kids, charity fundraising, Community Lacrosse Night, volunteering at local lacrosse tournaments and even babysitting. In all, the lacrosse program completed 101 hours of community service during the 2007 fall semester.
During the spring semester, the program continued its work within the community, putting on a clinic for all ages in late March to raise money for the fight versus MS. On April 20, the Mountain Hawks hosted Notre Dame in the season finale at the Ulrich Sports Complex. T-shirts that were designed by senior captain Dan Honeywell and former head coach Chris Wakely’s son Jack, were sold with the slogan “Join the Movement” on them. All proceeds from those sales also went to the fight against MS.
In addition, members of the team were heavily involved in Lehigh’s award winning C.O.A.C.H. program throughout the academic year. Senior Stuart Baxter served as co-chair of the C.O.A.C.H. program and was a member of the Holiday Adopt-a-Family committee as well. Other activities team members were involved with through C.O.A.C.H. were visits to local elementary and middle schools to speak with students, a pair of Breakfast for a Buck events targeted at fighting colon cancer and supporting the Dream Come True Foundation, and helping to battle breast cancer through support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Roseann Corsi is Lehigh’s Public Relations Coordinator and she oversees the C.O.A.C.H. program. She worked closely with members of the lacrosse program all year on their community service initiatives. “The men's lacrosse team committed themselves to many community service hours this year in addition to the COACH Program. Along with community service hours with their team, Stu Baxter and Greg Furst (Committee member of the COACH Program) did an amazing job to lead the COACH Program to another successful year. Stu and Greg took the lead in our MS Charity event to make this event one of our most successful of the year.”
She added, “Working with Stu and Greg so closely throughout the years I continued to see what "big hearts" they have and how they continue to make a difference. I can honestly say that I am going to miss two very special student athletes/friends but I know their connection with Lehigh and myself will last forever.”
Cassese offered his thoughts on the importance of the team’s community service initiatives. "Their commitment to these community service projects has allowed them to touch the lives of many individuals in the surrounding community and has provided an important avenue for team building to take place."