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A year ago, I was just beginning to get myself involved with Shootout for Soldiers. If you had told me then how involved I would be now, I wouldn’t have believed you. For a few years, I had been following the progress of SFS. I was itching to get myself to one of the other events and when I heard it was coming to Boston, I didn’t care how but I knew I wanted to be involved. I originally signed up just to help volunteer in any way I could, but Mike [Sully] Sullivan had other ideas. He convinced me to help out in organizing the event, to be honest I didn’t even feel like I was doing that much extra work. At the end of the event, there was no doubt in my mind that not only did I want to help out in 2016, but I also wanted to be more involved.

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About ten months ago, I approached Sully and Tyler [Steinhardt] about changing the event location of Shootout Boston. At first it seemed like a hopeless cause, but after Sully came to the campus to watch his niece play, he agreed UMass Lowell would be the host for our event in 2016. This school is truly something special. Everything UMASS Lowell involves themselves in gets an overwhelming amount of support, and I knew SFS would be something the school would get fully behind.

Last year we had a lot of trouble with filling all our time slots, so Sully and I made two goals. To completely sell out the event in 2016, and to raise over $50,000. I spent endless hours cold emailing coaches, trying to get the word out. Sully attended lacrosse conventions, and we both staked out at the Boston Cannons facility, working to get our name out there.

All of our hard work paid off because we met both of our goals! I’m still in denial that this year’s event is over, and I’m already looking forward to planning next year’s event. Although Boston is over for the year, I’m looking forward to attending Baltimore, Long Island, Colorado and California, and learning from each of them, as well as seeing new parts of our country.

Looking back on this year’s event, there are a few key moments that stand out. The first being Sully playing the bagpipes for me before my 3 am game, it was truly an awesome experience!

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Charlie Gressett Photography

Sully and his family have become my lacrosse family, and I’m lucky to have them. The second being, multiple veterans approached me, shook my hand and then thanked me for all the work I had done. This was truly humbling and each time it brought tears to my eyes. But the truth is, Shootout for Soldiers never felt like work. I’ve had so much fun along the way; I sort of forgot how much we were actually doing.

Shootout is more than just an event I look forward to, it’s becoming my second family. I am beyond thankful for the opportunities it has provided me with so far, and I look forward to my future with this amazing organization.

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