By Janee Law
Armed with gloves, garbage bags and a clipboard, members of the Elwood-John Glenn Lady Knights girls lacrosse team broke up into smaller groups last month to sweep the grounds of Crab Meadow Beach in Northport, cleaning up garbage and marking down each of the items they collected.
Partnering with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, the cleanup was part of the team’s annual volunteer work.
Dave Shanahan, athletic director commended the girls for their work.
“The girls did a great job giving back to the community,” Shanahan said. “It’s important to learn to be excellent on the field and in the classroom but also to give back to the community. It’s an important part of the growth process.”
Due to the bad weather earlier in the season, coach Janine Bright said a game against Sayville was rescheduled for that day, adding that the girls were opposed to canceling the cleanup.
“They said, ‘We want to do the beach cleanup in the morning and then we want to still play the game in the afternoon,’” Bright said. “It was a long day for them but it was awesome to see their commitment and excitement to the cleanup.”
Defender Caroline Miller, who is going into her junior year, said the cleanup solidified the team’s bond.
“I think it was a really good experience for the whole team not only for the community but it really made us all work together and it was just a lot of fun to do,” Miller, 16, of Huntington, said. “It was a really good way to start the day so by doing the clean up it got us ready for the game.”
The team worked for two and a half hours and collected 97 pounds of garbage, which consisted of food, plastic bags, cups, bottles and more.
Miller was surprised to see how much garbage she and her teammates collected.
“A lot of us go to the beach together and we just never thought that there was that much garbage,” Miller said. “When we were cleaning it up, we realized that a lot of people do litter and we didn’t even know it.”
Although volunteer work isn’t new to the district, the girls lacrosse team began participating in volunteer work as a unit when Bright became head coach five years ago.
“I always kind of said to them it’s important to give back,” Bright said. “The girls that have played for me for the past five years know that we always do something so it’s kind of become a part of our program.”
In the future, Bright said she would like to do more community service work outside of the season, particularly geared towards the holidays.
“We’re always looking for something different because it’s important for them to have different experiences,” Bright said. “They enjoy it and look forward to it and if it inspires them to sign up to do something on their own outside of lacrosse with their friends than that’s the goal, to go a little bit bigger than lacrosse.”