Jay Gallagher Scores With 120 Teams

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Mollie Biggane Foundation

among charities benefiting

After 18 years of running the Jay Gallagher Memorial Youth Lacrosse Tournament, what surprised Dr. Anthony Randi the most was the popularity of the event’s namesake.

“This guy was revered in the lacrosse world, he really helped a lot of people out in his life and I really think that it’s due to his name that the tournament grew.”

Randi isn’t the only one who had his life impacted by Gallagher, a fellow Garden City resident, whose life was cut short at the age of 39 due to melanoma. Gallagher, a 1970 graduate of Garden City High School, played lacrosse for the Trojans before captaining during his college years at Cornell then later went on to a coaching career that included stints at North Carolina, Rutgers, Syracuse and Cornell before moving onto becoming a bond trader on Wall Street. His connection to Randi comes through Tom Nolan, a fixture in the Garden City lacrosse circles, who also ran summer clinics and had Gallagher as one of his coaches.

“Jay’s nephew’s were on our team,” Randi said of his sons’ squad. “If you have a tournament, you have to have t-shirts, and if you have a t-shirt, you’ve got to put something on the back. So we thought it would be nice to honor Jay.”

The first tournament was held in 1997 as a round-robin event when Randi’s sons and peers were in the third grade. Only six teams were involved that year: Farmingdale, Plainedge, Manhasset and three squads from Garden City. The following year, the tournament doubled in size with 12 teams. In 2015, the statistics are astounding: 2,500 players on 120 teams on 15 fields over a two-day period with an estimated attendance of more than 8,000 people.

“In the beginning years it was small—six, 12, 24, 36 teams and then we used to be a one-day event, we got to 60 teams and then we went to the two-day event,” Randi said.

“As the tournament grew, all of a sudden we decided we’d love to see an opportunity to make some money… for a couple of charities,” Randi said.

Originally the tournament partnered with The Miracle Foundation, however once that charity closed its doors, Randi saw another opportunity, one that fit with the tournament’s namesake: The Mollie Biggane Melanoma Foundation. Altogether the tournament brings in about $100,000 a year in net proceeds from various sponsors, donors and tournament fees, donating half of it to Mollie Biggane, with the other half going to the Cancer Center for Kids at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola. Randi estimates that the tournament has brought in about $1.1 million throughout its 18 years of existence.

Planning for the event starts in September, with teams registering in January. This year the tournament featured 30 girls teams and 90 boys teams from across Long Island. 2015 will be the first year the tournament has expanded to include squads from second-grade boys. The upper limit is seventh-eighth grade for boys, while girls teams from third through sixth grade are welcome. Randi says that he tries to pair the teams with three evenly matched other squads.

“It’s for charity,” Randi emphasizes. “There’s no championship games or any of that stuff. We try to keep the spirit of lacrosse and the spirit of Jay alive.”

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