By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/18/13
When Laura Harmon was in sixth grade, she learned to play lacrosse.
Thursday night, Harmon was one of three lacrosse players inducted to the Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fame at the association’s annual awards dinner at The Concordville Inn. The event also honored two more Delco athletes and the HEADstrong Foundation.
Joining Harmon, the former Haverford High and University of Maryland All-American, in the Hall of Fame were Michi Ellers, who played at Strath Haven High and Georgetown University, and Christy Yarnell (Garnet Valley and the University of Richmond).
Also, Springfield-Delco senior Alex Poplawski received the Mickey Vernon Female Scholar Athlete Award; Optimist Lacrosse founder Jeff Pettit received the Bob Finucane Memorial Achievement Award; and President Cheryl Colleluori accepted the Humanitarian Award on behalf of the HEADstrong Foundation.
Harmon earned NCAA Division I championship rings at Maryland and played for Team USA in the World Cup. She coached a state championship lacrosse team from Long Island, N.Y.
“I gave up coaching because my son is in fifth grade now and I want to see him playing sports,” she said. “When I was young, my dad (George) had me playing soccer and T-ball. I gave up soccer to try field hockey, and then I started playing lacrosse.
“We had a lot of great athletes at Haverford High and some wonderful coaches. It was always challenging playing in the Central League. I enjoyed the competition. I so many wonderful experiences.”
Yarnell began playing lacrosse at Northley Middle School in Aston before moving into the Garnet Valley School District, where she was an outstanding player in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. She played left wing in field hockey and was a lacrosse goalkeeper.
“I was getting bored (playing on the field) so I moved into the goal as in 10th grade,” she said. “I went to a lot of camps, then one year Kathleen Geiger told me I should tryout for the Schoolgirls team. We played against them when she coached at Penn Wood and she said she liked the way I played.”
Yarnell was good enough to play for Team USA in the Under-19 World Championships in 1995, then played two sports at the University of Richmond before joining the coaching staff at the University of Notre Dame.
“I enjoyed the experience, but it seemed like we were always traveling,” Yarnell said. “And I have three children, 6, 4 and 2, so I’m no longer coaching. I’m the academic counselor for the women’s basketball team at Vanderbilt University.”
Ellers played soccer, tennis, basketball and lacrosse at Strath Haven before helping Georgetown University to the NCAA Division lacrosse Final Four as an All-American defender. She also coached at Georgetown when the Hoyas played for the NCAA title, then moved to Philadelphia this year to teach the sports and coach young players.
“I remember when I was in high school and my final college choices came down to Georgetown and Notre Dame,” Ellers said. “Christy Yarnell was trying to recruit me to go to Notre Dame.”
“I couldn’t have been that good a recruited because she chose Georgetown,” Yarnell said.
Jeff Pettit, Bob Finucane Memorial Achievement Award
Pettit founded the Optimist Lacrosse organization, which provides instructional programs for boys and girls from grades one through eight. Optimist Lacrosse is a charter member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Lacrosse Association and the Philadelphia Area School Girls Lacrosse Association, where last March it celebrated their 25th Anniversary
Beyond lacrosse, there are events such as Laxapalooza at Lincoln Financial Field during the NCAA Division I Lacrosse Championship Final Four, which provides a family-filled atmosphere. This May, the team will participate at PPL Park in Chester during NCAA quarterfinals, and again at The Linc on Memorial Day weekend when the Final Four championship games return to Philadelphia.
A Yale and Villanova University School of Law graduate, where he was the Managing Editor of the Law Review. He is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, the U. S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Tax Court and the Federal District and Appellate Courts in PA. In addition, Jeff serves on the board for the SEPYLA, the Media Youth Center, Rose-Tree Media Optimist Club and Healthy Community Initiative.
Alex Poplawski (Springfield-Delco), The Mickey Vernon Female Scholar Athlete Award
The two-time All-American and Stanford signee is ranked #1 in her class with a GPA of 4.3 and was an Academic All-American in 2012. She recently was named as a Pansini & Mezrow Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll honoree by Phillylacrosse.com.
Poplawski is a National Honor Society member, serves as Co-President of the Community Service Club and is a two-year captain and four–year starter.
HEADstrong Foundation, Humanitarian Award
The foundation has raised more than $1 million to help ease the financial burden of the victims of blood cancers, and their families. Founded by former Ridley and Hofstra lacrosse star, Nick Colleluori, the foundation raises funds and awareness for the treatment of those afflicted with blood cancers. Nick lost his relentless battle with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma in November 2006 but his family was determined to advance his legacy through the development of the Foundation.
From organizing lacrosse tournaments throughout the country to providing and serving a Thanksgiving dinner to the families and patients at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital each Thanksgiving, the HEADstrong Foundation continues to raise awareness and advocating for those who have been afflicted.
In November 2011, the Foundation opened Nick’s House in Holmes, which provides complimentary housing for the families of patients being treated in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area. The HEADstrong Foundation runs dozens of lacrosse events, most notably the Nick Collelouri Classic and Nick Colleluori Women’s Classic and most recently the Rivalry Games and the Relentless Games.