By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/12/09
It was an outpouring of affection and support that will not soon be forgotten.
Back on a sunny fall day in early November, hundreds of people from the lacrosse community and beyond rallied to make a statement on behalf of Doylestown’s Deb Andress, a popular and highly-regarded coach of girls’ athletes for many years in the Philadelphia area.
The occasion was the Third Annual Brain Tumor Society (BTS) Race For Hope 5K Run/Walk at the Art Museum in Philadelphia. The cause was the challenging fight that Andress faces against a brain tumor diagnosed several months earlier.
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 in the history of the Race For Hope.
Team Andress shattered the BTS record by raising nearly $40,000 for The Brain Tumor Society on behalf of Andress, the head coach at Penn State Abington, the youth lacrosse director and coach for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (OLMC) in Doylestown and a director of Five Star Lacrosse.
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 OLMC in Doylestown when recognizing a standout performance.
Team Andress became a phenomenon, which stretched from Philadelphia to Penn State, where Andress was a standout lacrosse and field hockey player in the 1980s. Dozens of Penn State friends, athletes and officials came to the Race For Hope to show their love for Andress.
Since the event in November, Team Andress t-shirts have been seen at many lacrosse venues. And support for Andress has flooded Phillylacrosse.com.
Andress continues to receive chemotherapy treatments and is progressing, according to her husband, John. It recently was announced that she will not coach at Penn State Abington this year – the first year of the program – but hopes to coach next year. The family greatly appreciates all the support, John Andress said.
Deb Andress, also an instructor of kinesiology at Penn State Abington, has coached lacrosse and/or played at nearly every level, from youth to national play. She also was a member of the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Team from 1980-1984 and is board member of the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association.
Team Andress captain Jacquie Beck said the November event was an elixir for everyone, and the chance for friends and family 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!”
Andress was overwhelmed by the show of affection.
“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 PennState, located over 300 miles away. Deb’s son John and daughter Lea are lacrosse players at Penn State and her husband 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.”
Get well Deb!