Remembering the Fallen- Team Jesse
Amidst the lacrosse season we often glance over the fact that our country is still involved in two wars. The consequences of those still hit home with some in our own lacrosse community. Last week during the Stealth's game against Rochester, the Team Jesse Foundation was highlighted during the game and at halftime. Team Jesse was founded in 2007 by current assistant Mercer Island varsity coach Kevin Mincio. The organization works to help families of fallen soldiers. Click here for the organization website.
The story of Team Jesse began when Kevin left a job on Wall Street after the 9/11 attacks. Upon joining the Army he befriended Jesse L. Williams and the two found themselves on a tour of duty in Iraq. Jesse received a Purple Heart for his service and before leaving on his second tour of duty in Iraq, he asked Kevin to “look after” his daughter Amaya in the event he did not make it back. Sadly, Jesse was killed in action in April 2007 at the age of 25. He was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington and assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team). To honor that promise Kevin founded Team Jesse.
The organization grew out of what was initially going to be a summer lacrosse tournament team founded by Kevin and Matt (Correy). Made up of former players from their alma mater, the University of Connecticut and other friends from the lacrosse community, the team was entered into the 2007 Lax Vegas Lacrosse Tournament. Planning was under way when Kevin was informed of Jesse's death. Kevin and Matt immediately knew that honoring Jesse and raising money for Amaya would be the new mission for our lacrosse team and Team Jesse started to take shape. One of the organizations Team Jesse is part of is the Travis Manion Foundation, named in honor of Naval Academy Graduate and former Lacrosse Player Travis Manion, who like Jesse, was killed in Iraq in August 2007.
“As we have gain momentum toward the ride, Lacrosse has helped promote Team Jesse, particularly with our partnership with the Washington Stealth. Many of our current supporters and donors have come from lacrosse players, companies and related organizations, and we will continue to embrace the sport as part of our overall strategy,” said Kevin. Local alums have participated in the Team Jesse lacrosse team like Mercer Island alums, Chris Taylor (2005) and Brant Howell (2006) and Matt Althauser. Earlier this year Team Jesse played in a tournament in Miami, the 2011 Bump & Grind Lacrosse Tournament, hosted by LacrosseWear. While winning lacrosse games was important, speading the word about The Team Jesse Foundation and raising money in support of the cause was a priority that the team took seriously. Whether it was selling Team Jesse koozies or tickets to the inaugural raffle, each man was committed from start to finish. Team Jesse Lacrosse sponsors like STX, 1Lacrosse, Warrior Lacrosse, LacrosseWear, Breakaway Sports and King Dyes also contributed to the success of the raffle with their generous prize donations. s the team was raising awareness and over $5,000 for families of the fallen.
Team Jesse local alums Brant Howell, Matt Althauser and Chris Taylor.
Up next Kevin will undertake “The Ride”. He will cycle across the United States beginning at Jesse’s hometown in Santa Rosa, CA and end at Ground Zero in New York City. Along the way he will visit families of fallen soldiers and spread the word about his organization. “Following the ride, we plan to continue our mission of being for families or the fallen and lacrosse remains in our plans. We are talking to potential partners now, but we don't have anything specific planned at this time. We do know we want to expand our reach to youth lacrosse as childhood development is part of our mission,” concluded Kevin.
Jesse's daughter Amaya at the Stealth game, getting a 5-20 Infantry coin from LTC Soika. Mincio pictured on right.
Two soliders re-enlist at halftime at the Washington Stealth game.