By: RJ Kaminski
A cool breeze jutted across the 50-yard line in the early morning hours before Shootout for Soldiers Hudson Valley. The turf field, centered amongst a stadium of towering trees in Rockland County was just moments away from hosting the area’s first Shootout for Soldiers.
At 7:30 AM, the last box of jerseys was hauled across the field and placed onto the sideline as Veterans began arriving and warming up on the sideline. USMC Captain Michael Bonanza happened to be one of those Veterans out warming up early.
“It’s a pretty awesome time to have a 24-hour game played, to have the score count up and have everybody out supporting veterans and the game of lacrosse,” Bonanza said. “It’s a pretty cool atmosphere to be apart of.”
Michael’s father, Jan Bonanza, has been working with a local team of organizers the past six months to make Shootout for Soldiers Hudson Valley a reality. Jan spoke about the work leading up to Saturday and the dedication of all those who lent a helping hand.
“The day finally came after many months of our committee members contacting and encouraging teams and players to join us in honoring and supporting our Veterans,” Jan said. “Participants of all ages did a great job raising financial support for our Veterans in need.”
A member of the Shootout for Soldiers travel team, Natalie Faust, spoke about her time volunteering at SFS Hudson Valley. Faust had a chance to meet members of all teams who took the field to play, as she worked the apparel tent for the event’s entirety.
“Another day of lacrosse in the books with rain and shine!” Faust exclaimed. “The energy of every person that came out to both put on and participate in the event was incredible. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to help out with this amazing organization in the Hudson Valley community.”
Faust is referencing the brief rain showers the event experienced here and there. A few 15-20 minute bursts of rain weren’t enough to dampen any spirits as the event went off without a hitch.
Hudson Valley chair Jan Bonanza will walk away with one extra special memory from his time putting on SFS Hudson Valley. Unique to our Veteran and active duty game was the opportunity to see my son, a marine, play with the son of fellow SFS organizer of Long Island, Harry Jacobs.
Jan was able to watch his son play alongside David Jacobs, a Captain and Ranger with the 3/61 CAV, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. Perhaps the two will get to play again in the coming month, as Shootout for Soldiers Long Island is right around the corner!