According to Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly, Friday night's 7 p.m. showdown with archrival Loyola Blakefield at what promises to be a sold-out Paul Angelo Russo Stadium in Towson is only the beginning of a bigger fight — against cancer.
The game pits two of the top teams in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, both of which are seeking a playoff berth and bring impressive résumés into the fray.
What lies underneath, however, is the will of both Towson-area Catholic schools to wage a pitched battle to fight the disease while simultaneously supporting those who suffer from it.
Both teams will wear the same black-and-yellow argyle-styled sox, the color scheme of the sunflower design of Believe Big, a Maryland-based organization dedicated to "cancer patients and their families discover their pathway to healing," according to the believebig.org website.
Believe Big founders, Jim and Ivelisse Page, have connections to both schools, but Jim is not an alum nor does the couple have sons who attend either school.
Ivelisse is a survivor of Stage 4 colon cancer and has been in remission for three years.
Calvert Hall and Loyola have fully embraced the Christian non-denominational organization's goals to "face it, fight it, overcome it," and will dedicate some of the proceeds from the game to cancer research.
Booths will also be set up for sales of Believe Big T-shirts, sweat shirts and the aforementioned sox.
Kelly, a close friend of the Ivelisse family, will speak before the opening faceoff to implore the crowd to "make this game bigger than just a game."
He said that a fundraising raffle will also be held and donations accepted with the money earmarked for Believe Big.
Kelly said that when he approached Loyola about the shared mission, Dons coach Jack Crawford was happy to help.
But it was the Loyola Mothers' Club that took the early lead, gathering almost 150 volunteers April 18 — including most members of the lacrosse team — to paint mugs that will later be sold by the organization.
"It's really a great opportunity for the community to come together to help people who are hurting," said Beth Morrison, freshmen class representative of the Loyola Mothers' Club, whose son, Luke, is a senior defenseman for the Dons. "We were looking to do a community project, and this is a perfect fit. The schools are such rivals, but this is a such great way to come together."