By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/4/08
Now that was a “varsity” effort.
There was no better word to describe the support shown to Deb Andress – a fixture for three decades in the Philadelphia lacrosse scene as a player, coach and leader – Sunday on a sun-splashed November morning at the Art Museum.
With sticks in hand and t-shirts dubbed “Team Andress,” more than 700 friends, family members and other supporters participated in the largest team fundraising effort at the Third Annual Brain Tumor Society (BTS) Race For Hope 5K Run/Walk.
The cause was for Doylestown’s Andress, a former Penn State great and current youth and college coach who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in August. Team Andress shattered the BTS record by raising nearly $40,000 for The Brain Tumor Society on behalf of the popular coach.
Another $8,000 was raised for Thomas Jefferson Hospital’s Neuro-team through the sales of Team Andress t-shirts. On the back of the shirts was a “V” for “varsity,” the term Andres uses so often to motivate her youth players at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) in Doylestown when recognizing a standout performance.
On this occasion, Team Andress earned its varsity status while representing Andress, who in January was hired as the first coach at Penn State Abington campus and is a board member of the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association and is most known for her overall dedication to the sport of lacrosse.
Team Andress stretched from Philadelphia to Penn State, where Andress was a standout lacrosse and field hockey player in the 1980s. Andress, also an instructor of kinesiology at Abington, has coached lacrosse and/or played at nearly every level, from youth to national play. She was a member of the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Team from 1980-1984,
“Everybody had their lacrosse sticks,” said Deb. “The Brain Tumor Society said, ‘What is this, some sort of club?’ I felt almost embarrassed (from the support); there are a lot of people who do what I do. I am not a superstar.
“There was someone, a coach or a parent, from almost every school in the area. The coaches around here are amazing. This gives me some courage and strength and hope to go on. I’m not just fighting for my family (five children), look at all these people. In all this ugliness, I saw a lot of beauty. It changes you a little bit.”
Andress also was touched by the support from the dozens of friends and athletes who came from Penn State, located over 300 miles away. Also, Deb’s son John and daughter Lea are lacrosse players at Penn State and her husband, John, was a quarterback on the Lions’ football team.
“The support from Penn State has been unbelievable,” she said. “Many of the (athletes) came down and ran. Some kids couldn’t come, but they ran up there and made a video on it for YouTube. It was such a beautiful event.”
Team Andress captain Jacquie Beck said the event Sunday was an elixir for everyone, and the chance for people to show support for the many contributions by Andress.
“Deb has done so much for the sport…it was nice to see all the players and families she has impacted step up,” said Beck
“The power of friendship is just amazing. One of the most memorable things for me yesterday was when I heard Debbie talking to her friends from college, she looked at the crowd and said…’This is it…I’m cured!’
“I knew at that moment that this event will make a huge difference and give Deb the boost she needs to come out on top!”