Lax Community Rises for Injured Bocklet; #Time2Advocate Gaining Steam on NYS Sports Circuit

#Time2Advocate Gaining Steam on NYS Sports Circuit

For a variety of reasons, lacrosse is more like family than most sports, so make no mistake: Laxers are there for each other, especially when the chips are down.

There is genetic royalty at just about every legitimate high school lacrosse program across the country. Families with two or more children often form the lineage that shapes the pedigree and stock of a particular program: the Fuscos of Yorktown High, the Lindsays of Walter Panas, the Pruntys of Lakeland. Heck, Yorktown has a ton of families worthy of royal mention (the Marrs, the Nelsons, the D’Andraias, the Kavovits, the Carcaterras, the Dooleys, the McElduffs, the Harringtons, the McCalls, the Vercruysses, et al.), but given the three All-American men — Frank, the dad in 1980, and sons Frank Jr. (2012) and Austin (2013) — and one All-American daughter, Rilea — the Fuscos are about as given at Yorktown as the Bocklets of John Jay Cross River, who are dealing with a major setback to one of their three All-American sons.

The Bocklet family means as much to the lore of Section 1 lacrosse as any family in history, including four siblings who all played Division I lacrosse. Mike Bocklet (Fairfield ’07), Matt Bocklet (Johns Hopkins ’08), Chris Bocklet (Virginia ’11) and sister Casey Bocklet (Virginia ’15) starred at John Jay prior to  their NCAA and professional careers. 

But, now-31-year-old Chris Bocklet, the former three-time UVA All-American and high school All-American, remains in critical condition after a longboarding accident ended in calamitous fashion and placed Chris in a Florida intensive care unit with severe head trauma last week.

Lacrosse brethren from far and wide rushed in to support the Bocklet family. Casey Powell, a former Syracuse All-American and professional hall of famer, established a GoFundMe page at Fundraiser by Casey Powell : Helping Chris Bocklet, which had raised $203,412 and counting as of Saturday afternoon.

Many of us in Section 1 see Chris’ dad, Barry, running up and down the sidelines as one of the top football and lacrosse referees in the area (not to mention a true gentlemen), so it’s time to rally around Barry’s pride and joy and donate whatever you can to help Chris get back on his feet…

In light of the COVID-19-driven postponements of high-risk sports last fall, #Time2Advocate has taken on a life of its own after Mahopac High football Coach Dominick DeMatteo took to social media recently in an effort to revive and initiate a statewide push for varsity football in the spring of 2021. Several local politicians have jumped aboard the mission in an effort to get NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo to give the green light for “high-risk” sports like football, basketball, ice hockey, wrestling and cheerleading. It was less than a decade when we couldn’t classify cheer as an actual sport, but now it’s a high risk activity. Enough already! Depression is running rampant among our student athletes and academia in general. We need to turn these kids loose this spring — with strict protocols and safety guidelines — in an effort to bring back some form of normal, just like they have done in neighboring NJ.

“If Governor Cuomo will allow thousands of fans to attend a Buffalo Bills game, it’s only fair we work together and find a way to safely let these young people have a season,” said NYS Assembly Member Kevin Byrne.

Make no mistake, futures are at stake. We need to trust the data from the 35 other states who have played football — and other sports — last fall and currently. Cuomo recently released a report based on contact tracing data from throughout the state. It focused on the 46,000 cases from September through November, which is approximately 20% of all confirmed cases. More than 70% of cases were traced back to social gatherings. Sports accounted for just 1.04% of cases, making it the seventh-leading cause for infection behind college students, education employees, restaurants, bars, travel and vacations.

Student athletes like Putnam Valley senior gymnast Caitlin Pellegrino deserve a plan that lets them fully compete in 2021.

So kids like Putnam Valley All-American senior Caitlin Pellegrino are being cheated of their last big shot based on a one percent metric. Pellegrino, the 2020 Section 1 gymnast of the year, is set to lead a crew of talented performers from the Lakeland/Panas/PV unit into the 2021 campaign after snagging the Section 1 all-around title (36.825) last year on the strength of first-place finishes in the vault (9.4), uneven bars (8.75) and floor (9.525). Pellegrino finished last season with a sixth-place finish on the vault at the state championships and finished 11th in the all-around, but any hope of truly embellishing her status as the most decorated gymnast in Putnam Valley school history became limited with the cancellation of the 2021 NYSPHSAA winter tournaments on account of COVID-19.

In my opinion, that is one of the saddest parts of this situation; the fact that the Pellegrinos and the Shannon Beckers and Katie Turks of the world won’t have the chance to pad their historical legacies due to cancelled junior seasons and abbreviated senior campaigns that, otherwise, would likely ensure their all-time greatness at PV, Mahopac and Carmel, respectively. 

“We have adjusted the initial “metrics” established last March for a variety of things, so why not interscholastic athletics,” Mahopac P.E. teacher and football coach Dominick DeMatteo asked? “We had 13 off-season workouts for Mahopac football with 40 student athletes per session with zero contact tracing and zero COVID transmission, so what are we doing? It’s time to advocate for our student athletes.”

Upwards of 189,000 high school athletes in NYS have missed their seasons so far. Statistics show 70% of these athletes are suffering from depression and anxiety due to missing school and athletic experiences because of COVID. That’s about 132,000 high school kids.

This is why it’s #Time2Advocate on behalf of all student athletes: Professionally and respectfully, call your local politicians and ask them to espouse on behalf of NYS student athletes to #LetThemPlay before another 11th-hour cancellation ends all hope….

Coach Thibbs’ NY Knicks are, evidently, going to go through their fair share of ups and downs in 2021, as evidenced from their 5-5 start and Friday’s 101-89 setback to OKC, but even without No.1 draft pick Obi Toppin (calf strain) in the lineup, I’m far more entertained by this unit through 10 games than I have been much of the last decade, or two…

The puck drops on the 2021 NY Rangers season this week and Blueshirt fans are hoping to see the rebuilding of a potential empire should Rangers GM Jeff Gorton and team president John Davidson hit on all these recent draft picks, including No.1 pick Alexis Lafreniere. Procuring a top four seed in the newly-revised eight-team East Division is anything but a sure thing given the top-heavy contenders within the division, including  the Boston Bruins, NY Islanders, Philly Flyers and Washington Caps. That said, I’ll settle on qualifying in 2021 with an eye on Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2022.

When the nation was going to hell in a handbag last Wednesday, NY Mets owner Steve Cohen put an end to my personal gloom and doom on Thursday when he, Sandy Alderson and Jared Porter aggressively traded for All-Star SS Francisco Lindor and P Carlos Carrasco. It got me thinking — just #35DaysTillPitchersandCatchers #Metsmerized. Thanks, Uncle Stevey, for putting the smile back on my face.