Long Island raises the bar for Shootout for Soldiers
Long Island raises the bar for Shootout for Soldiers
Thu 12 May 2022 | Paul Ohanian | Fuel
USA Lacrosse Shootout for Soldiers
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHOOTOUT FOR SOLDIERS
This article appears in the North Atlantic edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join American Lacrosse today to start your subscription.
There is perhaps no union more perfect than Erik Mineo and Shootout for Soldiers.
That’s because the annual charity event, entering its 10th year in 2022, combines two of his passions: lacrosse and helping veterans.
Mineo was both. He played high school lacrosse at St. Anthony’s, NY, where he first met his future wife Dani, and was recruited by Maryland, Navy, and Notre Dame from Division I schools, but chose West Point, where he played four years.
Mineo’s grandfather was on Omaha Beach during the sixth wave on D-Day and his father was in the Medical Service Corps treating soldiers from the front lines in Vietnam. He was a freshman on 9/11, 2001, and his class was known as the 9/11 class, the last class to enroll in peacetime to volunteer for wartime service.
For 14 years, Mineo served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq as part of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Infantry and Special Operations Force. He came into contact with Shootout for Soldiers founder Tyler Steinhardt when Mineo was Director of Scholarships and ROTC Enrollment at Johns Hopkins University.
It was in 2012, when the inaugural event set a Guinness World Record for a continuous 24-hour match.
“I was impressed with what they were doing,” Mineo said. “Tyler and I have fostered a good relationship of partnership, friendship and mentorship.”
As Shootout for Soldiers evolved from an event with an exclusive benefactor, Wounded Warrior Project, to one that combined major national charities with local charities, Mineo’s role also grew. When Steinhardt stepped down in 2020 — he is still active as the first board member — Team RWB, an organization whose mission is “to enrich the lives of American veterans,” took over.
Mineo became program director on May 17, 2021, tasked with hosting three events during his six-month contract after Shootout for Soldiers had an enforced hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After Shootout for Soldiers held events in 10 cities in 2019, they returned to the field in Baltimore, Canandaigua and Long Island, where they set a new record with $179,230.20 raised in the 24-hour event. hours for the Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund, the Long Island Air Force Association, and the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund.
Last year’s event at Massapequa’s Field of Dreams included a wheelchair game and rivalry games featuring NYPD vs. FDNY, Nassau County Fire Department vs. Nassau County Fire Department Suffolk, the MTA Police Department versus the Port Authority Police Department, and an in-house game involving the New York State Police.
This year, Shootout for Soldiers returns to the Field of Dreams from July 21-22. A team of all-veteran skydivers will jump into the balloon to kick off the festivities, while approximately 25-40 Vietnam veterans will be honored during the opening ceremonies, with special plans to remember Vietnam veterans and Desert veterans Storm. The Faceoff Academy will have a free one-hour clinic for different age groups and North Carolina stars and Long Island natives Jamie Ortega and Taylor Moreno will host a lacrosse clinic for girls.
Long Island is one of seven places. The others are Atlanta, Virginia, Ohio, Philadelphia, Canandaigua and Baltimore at the USA Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md. This event will take place the weekend of 9/11.
Now as Executive Director, Mineo has big plans for the Shootout for Soldiers to expand beyond a summer event to a few East Coast locations. “Invest West” is a rallying cry with the event possibly taking place in California as early as next year.
“I want to focus on growing lacrosse in California,” Mineo said. “The growth of bicoastal lacrosse is a requirement and something we need to do.”
Mineo also sees Shootout for Soldiers as an event that merges all aspects of the sport. He said he was already in talks with a few National Lacrosse League teams to maybe have a first boxed lacrosse shootout for soldiers, or as Mineo puts it, “A Winter Soldier Edition.”
“We want to connect everything in lacrosse, from American Lacrosse to PLL to NLL to Shootout for Soldiers,” Mineo said. “We want to be that connective tissue that’s still around as the charity of choice supporting the growth of lacrosse, while bringing attention to veteran communities.”
SPOTLIGHT ON THE REGION
The Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation, a chapter of USA Lacrosse, and Nassau County PAL have partnered to host the #LaxLikeAGirl festival and fundraiser in September. Proceeds will be used to expand girls’ lacrosse programs in Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as New York City. The event featured youth and adult teams competing in a 7v7 tournament and clinics hosted by local college players and the NYPD women’s team.
In other Long Island news, Nassau and Suffolk Counties PAL Lacrosse Programs have merged to form the Nassau/Suffolk PAL Long Island Lacrosse League serving 15,000 players from kindergarten through eighth grade. year in over 80 communities from the Queens border to the ends of the Twin Forks.
NEW YORK CITY
CityLax hosted a week-long overnight camp on Randall’s Island, a New York City Department of Parks facility located between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens. Veteran coaches Ryan Garling and Shawn Robinson led the instruction with guest coaches from the NYPD men’s and women’s lacrosse teams – a great opportunity to build relationships between the police and kids.