On this past Saturday, the South Portland Lacrosse Boosters held the 3rd Annual Ted Hellier LaxFest. A festival named for my husband, a man who loved the game, played in college, who was a diehard fan, and a beloved coach. The first Annual Ted Hellier Laxfest took place 2 weeks before Ted passed away. He was at that fest. Although he was tired, and very, very sick at this stage of his illness, I could not keep him home. He was hellbent on getting to the fields to be there and watch some good lacrosse. He did not last long that day, he tired easily, but he was there for a couple of hours and that was a gift. He was so touched that his friends, players and fellow coaches wanted to rename the Split Lacrosse Tournament, the Ted Hellier Laxfest. He was extremely humbled and all his friends joked that "it's not every day you get a fest named after you!" An all day event, this festival of lacrosse, is not about winning or losing, but just for the love of the game.
Running a "Fest" is a community effort. The planning stage begins in January, (and quite frankly, it could begin the day after the Fest) with bi-weekly meetings. So many moving parts...teams invited to play, sponsors sought. It takes lots of funding to run a fest...tents, porta potties, golf carts, radios, referees, water, ice, gas, T-shirts, hats, banners, printing, trainers, all these items that need to be paid for up front. Items are needed for the raffle table, food vendors, lacrosse vendors... and the list goes on. Voluntters Needed! Lots of Volunteers! And it seems we can always use more than we have signed up. Many of this years volunteers were there from 6:00AM-5:30PM. And although we were a tired crew at 5:30PM, we were feeling the high of a successful event. Notes were made on where to improve, and how to better the fest for the nest year. How to build this fest into the premiere laxfest that it can be. And at the same time raise funds to continue to grow the South Portlands Lacrosse Program.
In 2014, a year after Teds passing, the South Portland Boys Varsity Lacrosse Red Riots became the State Champion Red Riots. The boys on this team were the players that he coached in the first ever youth teams in South Portland. A program that Ted ran for years. He would beg, borrow and quite possibly steal equiptment from anyone who would give it to him. He would dole out sticks, helmets, gloves, and pads to those who did not have them, all he asked is that they return them, and if they decide to stick with Lacrosse, to donate their old equiptment to the program. His goal was to build a program, so that our boys and girls were introduced to the sport before High School. He talked about the talent of the class of 2015 often... such good athletes, nice young men, high lacrosse IQ, team players, etc... That is how he taught them to play, as a team. I remember him telling the boys often, that one person does not win or lose a lacrosse game, you win or lose as a team. He also spoke often of the rising freshman class. A group, in his estimation that would surpass the talents of the boys on this 2015 team, and this is one very talented group of guys! I am looking forward to watching that group of lacrosse players.
I know that Ted is pleased with the way this larosse program is growing. They have worked hard to go from a 4-8 season in 2012 to the 11-1 season thus far in 2015.
I am proud of what Ted started, 9 years ago, and with the continued help of this amazing community, we will continue to grow the sport in his honor.
From deep in this Hellier's heart I thank you.