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Battle of the Counties follow-up: Port Washington standout Crawley takes special pride in tourney to raise awareness, funds for autism

Monday, 14th November 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, High school  

By Mike Salerno, Posted 11/14/11

For Port Washington junior standout John Crawley, Saturday’s “Battle of the Counties” tournament at Syosset High School took on a much greater meaning.

The tournament, which featured 10 of the top varsity lacrosse programs on the island, was organized by the Syosset Lacrosse Booster Club and Braves head coach John Calabria. The tourney is part of a program created by the Haber family of Syosset called BraveGoals4Autism program in an effort to raise money and awareness for education and acceptance of people with autism.

As part of Saturday’s tournament, $1000 will be donated to the BraveGoals4Autism program.

Crawley, who has a younger brother with autism, is no stranger in fighting for autism awareness. He and his family have spent years running programs dedicated to helping children with autism enjoy playing sports such as baseball, swimming and gymnastics, among others.

“It means a lot to me,” said the Port Washington attackman who has committed to play Johns Hopkins. “Just playing and being able to be out here, it’s great to know you’re helping out a family just like us.”

First-year Port Washington head coach Tom Rooney, who spent the last 11 seasons with Calabria and the Braves as an assistant, wasted no time in entering his team into the tournament.

“It shows that the lacrosse community is willing to help out where it can,” he said. “This is a great event for a great cause. You know, autism is a disease we don’t know a lot about. That takes research and they need money to find a cure. I coached and taught at Syosset for a long time and I know Mr. Haber, and we’re happy to support it here at Port Washington.”

With talented programs such as St. Anthony’s, West Islip and Long Beach, among others, in attendance, the tournament served as quite a preseason barometer for the Vikings, who will be looking to improve on their run to the Class A quarterfinals last season.

“The Syosset High School booster club did a great job bringing in some real quality programs,” said Rooney. “You’ve got to get these kids out playing in the fall to get ready for the spring. It starts early. This is a great collection of teams, we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Crawley was thrilled with the way Syosset has continued to combat a disease that hits so close to home.

“It meant a lot when my coach said we were going to be playing in this tournament,” he said. “It’s important to raise money for it. It’s more than teams just having tournaments to raise money for their own sake. It’s great that they’re donating it to something good.”



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