The Ridge High School boys lacrosse team celebrated a former teammate, Bryan Opremcak, wearing special t-shirts for their home game with Bernards at Lee Field on Monday afternoon. Bryan Opremcak, whose death came as a result of a pediatric brain tumor in 2006, had played lacrosse with many of the boys from both the Ridge and Bernards teams when playing for Somerset Hills youth lacrosse.
"We are both incredibly touched and honored that six years later, the Ridge High School boys lacrosse team took it upon themselves to remember Bryan in such a great way," Nancy Opremcak, Bryan's mother, said on behalf of herself and her husband, Tim Opremcak. "It was a wonderful gesture and a true testament to the caring and giving nature of the boys on this team — they are terrific!"
The team wore the bright green t-shirts during the school day, said Leslie Meth, mother of team captain and senior Connor Meth. She said her son had come up with the idea as a way of remembering Bryan, who would have graduated in 2011, after seeing college games dedicated to players. Her older son, Tyler Meth, who also played lacrosse for Ridge, is a senior at Montclair State College, she said.
"This is just to keep the memory going," Leslie Meth said. "They wore the t-shirts in school all day today. They certainly stood out. Everyone in school knew what was going on."
"I think it's great that we are continuing a tradition," said lacrosse player Chris Catapano, a senior. He said he hopes the team with continue recognizing Bryan — and Bryan's Dream Foundation, a support organization for children with brain tumors, that was established by his parents — for as long as the program continues.
He said the team had recognized Bryan Opremcak at last year's Senior Night. Bryan also was honored at the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2011, with whom he had been classmates.
The team's purchase of the shirts also raised $175 for Bryan's Dream Foundation, said LuAnn Silveri, mother of lacrosse player Joey Silveri.
Lacrosse mother Sandy Scott said her son, Eric, had designed the shirts.
Silveri said other t-shirts will be sold at the 7th annual BTO Lacrosse Classic, that has been hosted each year by the eighth grade Somerset Hills Lacrosse Club as a fundraiser for Byran's Dream Fundation.
This year's event is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m. on May 4, again at Mountain Park at 1 Mountain Road in Bernards Township.
The eighth Somerset Hills Lacrosse Club boys team, with teams from the surrounding area, including Branchburg, Bridgewater, Chester and Mendham, Florham Park, The Hills, Hillsborough, and Ridge Youth Lacrosse will compete. In addition to lacrosse action, the evening — with free admission — will feature a silent auction, music, great food, a 50/50 raffle and a Speed Gun shoot out. The tournament begins at 4 p.m.
Ridge leads the game throughout
Once the players got out on the field, Ridge took the advantage early and keep up the pressure for the entire game. Goals came for nine different players with Connor Meth leading all scorers with four goals.
The Ridge team has seven division 1 recruits in its lineup this season. In a video last week, Coach Ken Marsh discussed this year's team, the outlook for future years, and the important of the youth program.
Linda Sadlouskos contributed to this story.