“We want the players to understand the importance of this event, to help and give back to the soldiers who have sacrificed so much for our country. We also want our players to know that what they do off the field is just as important as what they do on the field,” says HOCO Lacrosse 2025/2024 Coach Alison Eyre.
Coach Eyre is on the leadership team of the Central Maryland Chapter of The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, and when she found out about Shootout For Soldiers she knew that she wanted to help. “We signed up because we love the structure of the event; having players from multiple lax teams coming together to participate for the good of the cause (supporting our troops), and not to ‘win’,” says Eyre. Even better for the HOCO teams, which Eyre coaches 2 of, this year’s SFS Baltimore event takes place right in their backyard!
The Shootout For Soldiers cause seems to run deep in the HOCO 2025 lacrosse team. Eyre says that many of her players have deep military roots, and she herself had two grandfathers in the Army; one as a Lt. Col. and the other as a Warrant Officer.
The lead fundraiser for HOCO 2025, Gabriella Bernard, has had a fascination and appreciation for soldiers since she was 5. She met a girl named Avery in Kindergarten and learned that she had recently lost her father, who had been in active duty, serving seven years as a Marine. Gabriella was so sad for the little girl and yet amazed at how brave her dad was. Avery’s dad, Josh Cole Parish, was stationed in Sangin, Afghanistan, where he built water pump stations for the local villagers, and he also rebuilt a school in Gereshk, where a plaque now hangs in his honor. This story, along with the fact that her grandfather served in the Army (alongside Elvis Presley) and is now a member of the Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention, is what drives her to do all she can to help our Veterans.
Coach Eyre says that in the end, all this group of 4th and 5th graders is looking forward to doing is “coming together as a community, to have fun playing a sport we love, while giving back to all the soldiers who are fighting for us.”
HOCO Lacrosse 2025 has raised nearly $2,400 for our Veterans so far! To check out the rest of HOCO 2025, or to donate to their team, click here!