Bits & Pieces: Lacrosse community rallies after pair of tragedies

Lacrosse is often referred to as a family. Although the game is expanding around the nation, the theoretical center is still on the East Coast — particularly, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.

The Howard County branch of that girls lacrosse family took two blows this past week.

First, Lt. j.g. Valerie Cappelaere Delaney, a Naval aviator, was killed along with two crew members when their EA-B6 Prowler crashed in Washington state during training. She was just 26, having graduated from Centennial in 2004 and the United States Naval Academy in 2009.

While in high school, she played soccer and lacrosse for the Eagles and was a member of the 2001 state championship soccer team. While her name did not appear on any postseason award lists that I could find, she was remembered by coaches and teammates as an important piece on both teams and someone who made players around her play better. Mike Senisi, Valerie's former soccer coach and current athletic and activities manager at Atholton High School, is one of those people with nothing but positive memories.

"She was a player who worked extremely hard, encouraged others to play to the best of their ability and gave her all," he said.

If you talk to anyone about Valerie, you hear the same thing over and over. She may not have been the best lacrosse or soccer player on her team, but it wasn't from her lack of effort. She was one of those players every team needs in order to be successful.

The fact that Valerie has been out of the Howard County sports scene now for the better part of a decade and still is remembered vividly for her contributions speaks volumes. That, alone, is a testament to a young lady who has left us too soon.

The second blow came over the weekend when the tour bus driving the Seton Hill women's lacrosse team to a game left the Pennsylvania Turnpike and crashed head-on into a tree. The bus driver and the Seton Hill coach, Kristina Quigley, who was six-months' pregnant, died as a result of the accident. Quigley's unborn son also died.

Twenty-two others on the bus were taken to area hospitals. The names of the injured were not immediately released. Oakland Mills graduate Sierra Kelley-Chung is a sophomore defender on the team.

Some college players have started a "Play 4 Seton Hill" campaign and are asking that all lacrosse teams wear crimson and gold ribbons on their cleats to honor the Griffins. River Hill graduate Malory Brunett, who plays for Frostburg, was one of the ones on the ground floor in terms of getting this movement going.

Wilde Lake girls lacrosse coach Davia Procida has suggested that Howard County's high school teams join the campaign for their season opener on Thursday, and a large number of schools are already on board. Wilde Lake, Atholton, Howard, Long Reach, Mt. Hebron and Reservoir have told Procida they will participate. Others are expected to join as well.

Something like this shows that people care about others, and I like the gesture.

Tri-Columbia giving back

It seems like a hundred years ago when I witnessed the very first Columbia Triathlon. Back then the swimming portion was held in the Wilde Lake indoor swimming facility, and I had my doubts about whether the event would succeed.

Boy, was I wrong. Tri-Columbia, the event production company that puts on triathlons here and out of the county, recently announced that its Charitable Giving Program contributed more than $600,000 in 2012 to local and regional charities and community organizations. That was on the strength of nine endurance events throughout Maryland.

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