By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/19/14
As time passes, Eddie Coombs’ legacy continues to grow.
“People were concerned that after his (college) senior class graduated that it might start to slow down and talk would slow, but it’s only gotten stronger,” said Marist College men’s lacrosse coach Keegan Wilkinson. “That’s a testament to what a strong young man Eddie was.
“This is a legacy that’s only going to continue to build – it’s not going to go anywhere, through the hard work of the foundation and all the people down here.”
Wilkinson made his remarks Saturday between games at the first day of the 3rd Annual Edward T. Coombs Fall Ball Shootout at Hatboro-Horsham. The event was created to raise funds for a Foundation that encourages good decision-making by youngsters. The popular Coombs, a standout player at Hatboro-Horsham, died in the summer of 2011 after his freshman year at Marist College in a car accident while a passenger in a vehicle driven by a drunk driver.
“This means everything to us, to come back and get in this community,” said Wilkinson, a St. Joseph’s University grad. “The community extended our arms to us when we went through a tragedy and to play here in Ed’s home town means a lot to us. It’s an honor to be here and represent Marist College.”
See Keegan Wilkinson’s interview on video
Marist played Division II teams LeMoyne and Merrimack Saturday. D1 women’s teams Marist, Liberty, Long Island University and Wagner also competed Saturday and today six men’s Division III teams – Delaware Valley College, Eastern, Ursinus, John Carroll, Centenary and St. Mary’s – as well as Philly men’s club power GMH will compete.
“Our main goals are to come down and compete at a high level and execute what we’ve done in our 23 practices leading up to it,” Wilkinson said. “We don’t need to rewrite anything, just come down and do the small things and, most importantly, to get more teams down here and spread awareness of responsible decision making.
“It’s so important. We have seen so many different tragedies in lacrosse the past few years and to see the positives here is great.”
One of Eddie’s teammates while playing with Rebel Elite was Plymouth Whitemarsh grad Colin Joka, a senior attackman at Marist, who followed Eddie there. He said Eddie’s memory burns bright.
“Ed’s legacy hasn’t faded one bit to our program,” said Joka, who had 35 goals in 2014. “His hard work, determination, and toughness as a player is mentioned all the time to help us strive for overall greatness. Even though his class has graduated we still instill his hard working mentality to the younger guys so they understand our culture as a team which Ed helped build in the year he was here at Marist.
“To me Ed is a never dying memory of how one should act to be the best player and teammate one can be. I’m lucky enough to have played club ball with him for the 3 years I did. Although his class has graduated we feel the need to work even harder to win the MAACs to bring home a championship ring back to Philly to present to the Coombs family.”
Marist’s women’s team also has embraced Eddie as part of their tradition. Senior defender Christine Asterita (Unionville) said that the Eddie Coombs provides an inspiration to all.
“I think Eddie’s legacy is something that’s been built into the Marist lacrosse family now,” she said. “We do tell (younger) players about Eddie’s story, and they are so receptive for what he did in such a short time. The boys’ team also has compiled some documentaries and films on YouTube. We shared them with our girls last night and they are really impactful. I personally was not at Marist when Eddie was here, but they still were very moving to me.
“Its a really big honor to come back and our goal is just to play hard. I think it’s our third year playing and our goal is to just play for Eddie and play like the great teammate that he was.”
TIME FIELD TEAM 1 TEAM 2
10 am Stadium Scranton vs. Delaware Valley
10 am Grass 1 Eastern vs. John Carroll
12 pm Stadium Centenary vs. John Carroll
12 pm Grass 1 St. Mary’s vs. GMH
12 pm Grass 2 Ursinus vs. Scranton
2 pm Stadium St. Mary’s vs. Eastern
2 pm Grass 1 DelVal vs. Centenary
4 pm Stadium Ursinus vs. GMH