Brian Morrison has spent 18 years helping children as the founder and executive director of the Grant-A-Wish Foundation, all the while being a lacrosse fan on the side. Finally, the two shall meet.
Lacrosse will invade UMBC this weekend, as the first Middle Atlantic Youth Lacrosse Festival showcases clinics, games and fun, all in the name of a worthy cause.
For Morrison, the key to this event was the purity of its inception -- a desire to create a weekend where kids could have fun, while helping an organization that does everything it can to support children with life-threatening diseases.
"This is the first time we've engaged in something like this," Morrison said. "But the idea is simple: children raising funds for children through lacrosse."
The name of the event is important too, says Morrison. Note that it's "festival," as opposed to "tournament."
You won't find a championship game or MVP here, but rather, awards for spirit and other non-athletic focused characteristics.
"We want this to be an opportunity for kids to play equal amounts of time," said Morrison, "and to lessen that competitive spirit some."
But don't mistake that concept for a lack of serious lacrosse. With sponsorships from U.S. Lacrosse, LAX World and STX Lacrosse (as well as title sponsor Net2000 Communications), the clinics and teaching will be highly instructional, and the games (featuring the U.S. Club Lacrosse Association men's championships and U.S. women's touring team) figure to be exciting.
The title game in the men's club competition is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m., and there will be two playoff games the day before.
With 80 teams coming this year, and more than 100 already looking to next year, Morrison readily admits that his idea has taken on a life of its own.
"I think there's no doubt that in a few years it will fully exceed my expectations," he said.
For fans looking for a more competitive weekend, the 2000 STX Lacrosse Festival at Towson University will stage six women's games starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, featuring North/South senior all-star games for college teams in the afternoon.
The Division III game is at 4 p.m., and the Division I/II game is at 5:30.
University of Maryland coach Cindy Timchal will be one of the coaches of the South team in the Division I/II game, which includes three players from Loyola and one from Maryland.
Middle Atlantic Youth Festival
When: Saturday, Sunday
Where: UMBC and surrounding fields
Highlights: U.S. Club Lacrosse Association championship game, Sunday, 1 p.m. at UMBC
Where: Towson University
Highlights: North-South senior all-star games in all three NCAA divisions, 4 and 5:30 p.m.
Admission: $4 for adults, $2 for children. Children under 6 are free