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By: RJ Kaminski

For 45-year-old Washington College alum Andrew Manos, The Shootout for Soldiers has provided a chance to connect with old friends, to remember for whom he’s playing and to fulfill a lifelong dream of his.

“We’ve been playing since day one,” said Manos about his team of WAC alums. “It’s a great way to show our kids that while lacrosse is a great sport, you can play it and help a really great cause at the same time. We all owe it to our veterans. We all owe it to our family and our friends to give back to the community.”

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4 WAC lax alumni (and fraternity brothers) graduates from 1993-1997 (from left to right: Dave Taibl ’93, Greg Byrnes ’97, TD Albright ’96, and Andrew Manos ’94). Dave’s current teammate and roommate from college Ted Greeley (not picture) is currently serving as a Captain in the Marines.

 

Manos heard about the Shootout for Soldiers through word of mouth and the original advertisement put out by Fox 45 Baltimore. It took some convincing on his part to get the group of alumni to play in one the latest—or earliest—time slots.

“2 AM was the first time slot [for us] the first year,” said Manos. “It totally throws your clock off. We had some guys that aren’t really spring chickens out there.”

You may think playing at that hour would be easy for most recent college graduates, but Manos’ team did not solely consist of youth; it enveloped generations of Washington College alums.

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“The first year we actually had guys from four decades of Washington college lacrosse representing,” Manos said. “We had guys who had graduated in the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and the 2010’s.”

Jon Henneberry, a Calvert Hall alum and current student at Washington College, missed out on that memorable game. “Unfortunately I did not play in that game last year because I was on vacation,” he told us. However, like his fellow WAC alumni, he remains a proud supporter of the event.

“I love the Shootout for Soldiers and love seeing how the lacrosse community comes together to support the men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice,” Henneberry said.

But for Manos, the sense of school unity and community for Washington College and local celebrity supporters was far more important than the age difference on the turf that day. “The community in lacrosse is huge,” Manos said. “Whether it’s Ryan Clark, or you meet a guy like Dave Pietramala or a guy like John Harbaugh, all of these people come to this kind of event to support the veterans.”

What Manos is most looking forward to in the fourth year of the Shootout for Soldiers, however, may just be a simple pass and catch.

“How many times does a 42-year-old guy get to play with his 13-year-old son?” Manos asked. “This year we have 41 guys registered to play and we’re going to get fifty. We’re going to do Washington College against Washington College. So far eight of us have our sons playing in the game with us.”

Generations of alumni, father-son combinations, and men ranging from approximately 13 to 45 years of age all get the opportunity to take the field at once.

“I’m a goalie. My son’s a longpole,” Manos said. “You know I’ve been dreaming about making a save and making the pass to my son. We’re not going to get that many chances in life to make that kind of moment.”

The military ties run deep in Manos’ college community. Jeff Shirk, the head lacrosse coach at Washington College, has seen many classes come and go through his coaching years. Upon graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2001, he accepted a full-time position as head coach at the Naval Academy Preparatory School. There he had the opportunity to form a great relationship with longtime Shootout for Soldiers supporter, Ritchie Meade.

“I went in ensign, which is your lowest level Navy officer,” Shirk said. “And when I got out I was a Lieutenant after four years.”

Shirk formed relationships with many different students throughout his time coaching in Annapolis.

“Just watching what guys went through in training and then following their paths through the Academy, into the military, and seeing where they are now,” Shirk said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Shirk’s support of the Shootout for Soldiers comes partially as the result of what he witnessed when some of his former students returned home.

“I’ve been involved with a couple guys that have come back with some injuries who’ve have had some things happen to them,” Shirk said. “Just being able to support different causes like the Shootout for Soldiers that really support the military is a really neat thing.”

 

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