By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/21/12
Marist sophomore attackman Colin Joka (Plymouth Whitemarsh) played with Eddie Coombs as a member of the Rebel Elite club team and committed to the Upstate New York school partly because of Coombs’ presence on the team.
So Joka had many emotions Saturday after the Red Foxes faced Binghamton on the turf field in its opener at the inaugural Edward Taylor Coombs Fall Ball Memorial tourney at Hatboro-Horsham.
“It’s something really special to be on his home field as a team,” said Joka, who scored once in a tight win. “We had some slipups this game, but we are still playing for him in our hearts and minds.”
Coombs, who led Hatboro-Horsham to a state playoff berth as a senior in 2010 and enjoyed a standout freshman year at Marist in 2011, died that summer in a car accident. Saturday’s first day of competition featured nine Division I and II men’s and women’s teams and raised money for the Edward Taylor Coombs Foundation while bringing awareness to the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
Several thousand people attended Saturday’s event. Play continues today at 10 a.m. with eight Division III squads each playing two games (admission is $5). Click here for schedule.
Joka said Coombs was a leader on and off the field.
“He touched a lot of us in every way possible,” said Joka. “He was a role model and someone to look up to; the type of guy everyone wants to have on their team and everybody wants to be on the field with. He makes you want to play better. He was that type of kid.”
Marist coach Keegan Wilkinson – a St. Joseph’s University grad – said the significance of bringing his team to Coombs’ hometown was not lost.
“This means the world to us,” he said. “Obviously, going through the tragedy we did understand in Poughkeepsie what it meant. But when you come here you get the full grasp of what it means to these people down here as well.
“This is an opportunity for two families – ours and the Coombs family – to converge and come together. As a coach, personally, it’s one of my proudest moments to showcase our team on Eddie’s field.”
Marist senior defenseman Ethan Fox, an All-Conference and All-Academic player, said his teammates were proud to participate in an event that furthered Coombs’ name.
“We all loved Eddie and it means so much to come down here to his home town,” he said. “We see that others loved him as much as we did.
“It’s special to play for him and the Coombs family knowing he lived right down the road. We hope it builds up and get bigger each year. It could be something special down the road.”