As the lacrosse season begins and Farmingdale looks to defend its state championship, the Dalers last Friday added to their roster a (adjective) young dynamo.
It matters not that Stryka is only in the sixth grade. Or that she has cerebral palsy.
“She’ll be welcomed as a member of the team,” defender Samantha Brescia said. “She won't be able to participate in sports, but hopefully with this she’ll make some good memories and lasting friendships.”
Stryka is the first beneficiary of the Dalers’ initiative called A.T.O.M. (A Team of Mentors). The program seeks to pair children with illnesses or disabilities with high school sports teams, said Brescia, a senior who made the proposal last fall. Each child is given a jersey and, along with their family, is allowed on the sidelines during games. They also may attend practices and other team functions.
The Farmingdale boys lacrosse team has adopted a boy, a second-grader named Thomas, Brescia said.
Brescia said she got the idea last year when Merrimack football – for which her brother Carl plays – made a child an honorary member of its team.
The applications aren’t limited only to Farmingdale residents, and they will accept children from any area. However, Brescia, said, the placements for now are limited to only the lacrosse teams. The goal, though, is to eventually have all the school’s teams – in every season – involved.
“The goal is to give the children love, support and friendship and hopefully improve their quality of life in any way,” Brescia said. “In turn, the athletes gain a different perspective about life and compassion.