By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun
8:00 AM EDT, April 2, 2014
The recent deaths of three U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen have cast a pall over the institution in Annapolis. So perhaps it’s not a surprise that those tragedies have affected the men’s lacrosse team.
In February, senior Max Allen was found dead in his vehicle after crashing into a creek on academy grounds. On March 25, freshman slotback Will McKamey died of brain swelling and bleeding after collapsing during a football practice. And on Saturday, sophomore Hans Loewen died after slipping into a coma after a skateboarding accident.
“It’s been a really difficult time for everyone, for every member of the Brigade,” senior long-stick midfielder Pat Kiernan said. “Will was a football player, and the athletic family here is really close. Hans was the younger brother of a Midshipman in the Class of ’14, and with Max … it’s hit everyone differently from different angles. But we’ve been trying to do all we can as a team to try to reach out and let the families know that our thoughts and prayers are with them and that we’re thinking about them all the time. That’s about as much as we can do at this point.”
Although the three victims did not have a direct tie to the team, the deaths still took an emotional toll as many players are fond of saying that attending and studying at the academy bonds each student as a member of a family. However, coach Rick Sowell said he has not seen any visible impact the tragedies have had on the players.
“We’ve had some personal tragedy, but our guys have handled it well,” he said. “It’s something you have to deal with, and we’ve tried to do the best we can as coaches to bring as much comfort as we can. You just take each day one at a time, and I certainly think that having lacrosse to participate in is a tremendous outlet for focusing on trying to win games. That definitely has had a positive effect on the situation. It’s just been a tough year in that regard.”
If there is a silver lining in the events of the past two months, Kiernan said, the Midshipmen have drawn on each other for strength and taken time to be thankful for what they have.
“It’s a perspective thing,” he said. “With something like that, maybe something you thought that was a struggle or was bad isn’t so bad anymore. You’re thinking about the families and what they’re going through, and I think it’s important that even if it does hinder studies or whatever it may be, it’s important to keep those thoughts in your head and keep those families in our minds and our prayers regardless of the positive or negative impact that it might have on other things going on in our lives because what those families have going on is much, much worse. It’s definitely a tough time for them.”
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