By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/30/09
“It was the first year after the (district) split into two high schools and (head coach) Tommy Hannum and I were pushing the program in our first year,” said Zug, who served as Hannum’s assistant from 2004-08. “These kids jumped on the bandwagon – especially Brian.
“There was a big tournament at St. Paul’s School (MD) with elite high school teams. Brian really wanted to go, so I took him.
“He absolutely loved it. We were watching elite teams and players and discussing who was good and what skills to focus on. He really was catching on quickly. He knew what he wanted – he wanted to get better at the sport and he was very excited about lacrosse.”
Tragically, fate did not allow Houshower to fulfill his dream. The day after attending the tourney at St. Paul’s, Houshower, 16, was killed on Nov. 10, 2003, in a car accident after school in East Brandywine Township.
To honor Houshower’s spirit and memory, the Downingtown West’s Booster Club developed the Brian Houshower Lacrosse Festival. Now in its sixth year, the event – postponed by rain last week – will be held Saturday at Downingtown Middle School.
Twenty teams will play in two divisions with the championship games slated for 3:30 p.m. Proceeds go to the Brian Houshower Scholarship Fund and local youth programs.
Zug, who now lives in Hagerstown, Md, recalls being thanked by Houshower’s mother, Joan Ferrere, after he brought Brian home. The next day resulted in absolute shock.
“Brian’s mom actually called me that night after I dropped them off and thanked me for taking him and showing him that side of lacrosse,” he said. “When I heard of the accident, I was very much taken aback; to see any of those kids taken was very hard.
“It was really hard in the beginning, but the parents at Downingtown are great and they were very supportive.”
Zug said the festival is a celebration of Brian Houshower’s zest for lacrosse and life.
“It’s good for the kids to remember what happened,” Zug said. “It’s part of Downingtown West history and it’s something I think kids can definitely take away and learn from.
“It’s a great story – a tragic story – but also an (important) story that kids can look to and learn to take advantage of what they have.”
Zug said Downingtown West won players embraced the festival from the start.
“We won the first tournament, which was pretty neat,” he said. “We actually split the teams up into two Downingtown West teams; it was such a small little tournament.
“In the first two years of the tourney, we used the color schemes that Brian picked out – solid white and blue. They all wore his No. 8 on their helmets. The kids are so well spirited and adaptive to a lot of positive things.
“It’s a great tourney – and a great way to remember Brian.”