If you happen to see bright lights emanating from Everett’s Kasch Park in the middle of the night this weekend, don’t be alarmed. That’s just the area’s lacrosse community doing its part to support the nation’s military.
Shootout for Soldiers, a 24-hour lacrosse event that benefits America’s veterans, is returning to Kasch Park for the second straight year this Saturday and Sunday, and this time it’s going the distance.
Beginning at noon Saturday and continuing through noon Sunday, Kasch Park will be the site of 24 straight one-hour lacrosse games. Everett is one of 12 locations nationwide — it’s technically designated the Seattle location — that are part of this year’s Shootout for Soldiers.
Last year’s Shootout for Solders Seattle, hosted by the Everett Lacrosse Club and the Woodinville Lacrosse Club, was limited to 12 hours as the organizers dealt with the logistics of holding the event for the first time. But this time around, with a year of experience under their belts, they’re doing the full 24.
“It’s going to be a great time,” said Barrett Crane, the Everett Lacrosse Club’s representative who is helping direct the event. “I’m really looking forward to just maintaining it through a marathon event. The idea of stretching something 24 hours presents a challenge, from getting the teams there, to getting people checked in throughout the night, to having the vendors rolling all night. But we’re really excited about the challenge of it. I think it’s going to be a great benefit for our local charity organizations.”
Shootout for Soldiers began in 2012 when a group of high school seniors at The Boys Latin School of Maryland in Baltimore needed to do a senior project. The school is known for its lacrosse team, and members of the team had just watched a 60 Minutes segment on veterans returning to the U.S. needing services. Therefore, they decided to play lacrosse for 24 hours to raise money for veterans organizations. That first year they raised $100,000.
Since then the event has grown to a national level, and this year the organization is expecting to surpass the $4 million mark in total money raised over the course of eight years. The funds have gone to a variety of organizations that assist veterans trying to reincorporate into civilian life.
“We try to have a veteran come out to talk to all the teams because we really want to create that connection,” Shootout for Soldiers executive director Merry Troper said. “What we find unique in our setting is that current high school juniors were born after 9/11, so high school kids and younger don’t understand what it’s like to not have veterans serving abroad. Because that’s a part of our daily life it sometimes gets lost. So we bring it front and center and really try to educate the teams about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
The Seattle event came about when Pete Crowley of the Woodinville Lacrosse Club reached out to Crane last year about partnering for the event. Crane contacted Everett Parks and Community Services about using Kasch Park, an ideal site for a 24-hour event in that it’s located in an industrial area rather than in a residential neighborhood, meaning the late-night noise and light are less of a nuisance.
As for the financial aspect, 30 percent of the proceeds go to local veteran-based charities — the ones chosen by the Seattle event organizers are Brigadoon Service Dogs in Bellingham, which equips veterans with service animals, and The Seattle Stand Down, which consolidates services for homeless veterans. The rest goes to Shootout For Soldiers’ national charities: Team Red, White & Blue, the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Semper Fi Fund.
Last year’s event at Kasch Park went from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on a Saturday and raised $38,000. The emotional high point was the veteran game for veteran and active duty military personnel, which drew participants from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
“I was part of the color guard, and I’d never done that while I was on active duty,” said Chris Cote of Lake Stevens, who served in the Navy from 1986-2010 and played in last year’s veteran game. “Being able to do that, carrying the nation’s colors to the middle of the field while people were singing the national anthem, was an honor. It was a moment that gave me chills.”
This year’s event is expected to surpass last year’s event, with music blasting over the sound system, food trucks in attendance and the charities present for the 24 hours. More than 33 teams are expected to take part, featuring male and female players ranging all the way from kindergarten age to seniors. The adults and high school varsity teams drew the late-night slots between midnight and 6 a.m., and some teams will play more than once. This year’s goal is to raise $50,000.
And there will again be a game for veterans and active military personnel. It takes place at 4 p.m. Saturday. Other notable moments are opening ceremonies, which commence at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and closing ceremonies, which follow the final game at noon Sunday.
Those wishing to participate can continue to register right up to the event for $25 — Crane said they will find teams for individuals who want to play. For more information, visit the Shootout for Soldiers Seattle website.