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Manchester Valley girls lacrosse strengthens team bond while donating items to Johns Hopkins healthcare workers to aid in public health crisis

Sarah Rutter poses with bottles of Gatorade, which were donated by members of Manchester Valley High School's girls lacrosse team.
Sarah Rutter poses with bottles of Gatorade, which were donated by members of Manchester Valley High School's girls lacrosse team.(Courtesy)

The Manchester Valley girls lacrosse team completes a service project every year to give back to people in the community.

With the help of Angie McClain, a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Mavericks found a way to assist those who are working to save the lives of people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

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McClain is a friend of Manchester Valley coach Shelly Brezicki and she said that one of her colleagues at the hospital presented an idea to start collecting items to give to healthcare workers who are assigned to units with teams that have been highly-impacted by this public health crisis. McClain created a private event to encourage people to donate snacks, drinks and other items for essential workers.

The Mavericks made an Amazon wish list of things McClain suggested, and the girls and their parents each bought items and had them shipped to McClain’s house so she could distribute them at the hospital.

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“Not only do we have current players doing this, we have alumni and their families contributing, which I think was very nice that they could also participate,” Brezicki said. “It opened it up more broadly to anyone that really follows us or our Facebook page to join in and contribute as well.”

McClain said she does weekly runs to these units so essential employees can have access to items they need to get through their daily shifts. Assortments of grab-and-go snacks, packs of Gatorade in different flavors, Chapstick, Sharpies — you name it — these items are readily available for these workers.

“Our break room is full from donations from ceiling to floor, you can hardly see the window,” McClain said. “People bring things daily and we’ve gotten plants, just things to brighten our days. We get food daily, pretty much, not just items though, but words of support because these things are so great and they really do help.

“What really makes the difference is just knowing that people are thinking of us and they care. They’re there for us with these things, but emotionally too. and it lets us know that we’re not alone in this and that we’re doing this together.”

Care packages like these were donated to healthcare workers at Johns Hopkins from members of Manchester Valley's girls lacrosse team.
Care packages like these were donated to healthcare workers at Johns Hopkins from members of Manchester Valley's girls lacrosse team.(Courtesy Photo)

The Mavericks have also started making cards for local nursing homes in Manchester. Those who occupy the nursing homes are unable to have visitors and cannot socially interact with one another because of the pandemic. Brezicki said two of her players, Caroline Krauch and Lauren Baldwin, took the lead on getting this second project underway.

Brezicki said one of the player’s parents delivers the cards to the nursing homes, which has given the team another chance to reach their community in a safe and thoughtful manner.

The girls have stayed in touch through Zoom and FaceTime as much as they can during the pandemic. Brezicki runs the program’s Facebook page, and last week she shared a Senior Spotlight to highlight the team’s nine seniors as well.

Mavs senior defender Maddie Mitzel said this has helped the team form a closer bond, despite the circumstances.

“This is very important for our lacrosse program to give back because we have tons of moms and dads on the front lines,” Mitzel said. “Coach B has always wanted us to give back to our community and I’m very thankful she put this together for us to give back during this time.”

Healthcare workers and other essential personnel have seen their regular shifts change to best fit a higher demand of patients who need to be treated. Hopkins employees have felt it, too.

“It’s an emotional support for all of us knowing that everybody is in this together,” McClain said. “Sometimes you’ll be head-to-toe in garb all day and they’ll come into the break room and have these things and words of encouragement and support from people.

“It helps to give you what you need to get through. It matters and it really makes a difference.”

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