Darien boys lacrosse team supports the troops
With a 12th FCIAC championship, the success of the Darien High School boys lacrosse team this season has been well chronicled.
The Blue Wave's most lasting impact, however, took place away from the field -- and headlines.
Coach Jeff Brameier was connected with America Supporting Amercians, a non-profit organization that matches up citizens with soldiers abroad. The Blue Wave adopted Delta Company 1/325 Air, an airborne unit of more than 80 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.
"We had some email communication and they thought the Darien lacrosse team would be a good fit," Brameier said. "It sounded like an interesting thing to be involved with, and would be a good thing for our team, our kids and our town."
The Darien players and their families recently shipped out seven boxes weighing over 300 pounds to the unit, which included everything from toiletries, snacks, magazines, playing cards and other items for entertainment.
"The idea was to check into community service programs, and they looked into a few things and Jeff came across this," said Debbie Parnon, whose son Eric was a senior and one of the Blue Wave's top players. "The three captains' moms were involved behind the scenes to support Jeff in any way we could. When Jeff got the team involved with this it looked like a terrific program and we offered to do whatever he needed us to do."
The players also wrote letters to the members of the unit and sent over the highlight video that was played at the team's banquet, as well as pictures and other mementos from the season.
The team also wore decals made out of the unit's insignia.
"Most of the kids on the team thought it would be a good idea and would help unify the team," said Eric Parnon, who will be playing next season at the University of Maryland. "Plus we would be doing a good thing for the people who are protecting us. I think the most important thing was writing the letters and telling them about the team and what we do."
The Blue Wave have built a national profile over the years, with eight state and 12 conference titles, as well as a non-league schedule that includes many powers in the northeast.
Darien has a record of 451-119 in Brameier's 28 seasons as coach.
But it is obvious his team's endeavor this spring was a particular source of pride.
"I was amazed how many kids came in with full boxes of things," Brameier said. "It took a lot of work to box everything up and ship it out. Mostly we just wanted to do a little good and help them forget things over there a little bit."
Debbie Parnon said in selecting what to include in the packages, the players wanted to include items the troops would need, and those that would remind them of home.
"You see what people brought, and that was really awesome," she said. "It was an inspired feeling. It made you feel proud of the country."
The Blue Wave's generosity is not a one-time act. There is a section devoted to the Delta Company on the team's website, with links to videos and the battalion's Facebook page, as well as the names of all the unit's members and contact information.
The team is encouraging others to write to the troops.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Debbie Parnon said. "This is just the beginning. The new captains' moms in September will keep this going. We'd like to do this through their whole tour of duty."
Judging by Eric Parnon's memories of the experience, the endeavor had a dual effect.
"It made it a lot easier for us to grasp what is going on over there," he said. "We have more of an appreciation."