Greeks and police unite for double-play

Katherine Silkaitis

Even though the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 is behind us, our hearts and minds do not forget those lost that fateful day. Rather, we continue to honor them in any way we can. Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on Mendel Field, members of Villanova’s Greek community and the Lower Merion Police Department will participate in “Stars & Stripes,” a memorial softball game.

The event, hosted by Delta Tau Delta and the Office of Greek Life, will feature a team comprised of Greek representatives pitted against a talented Lower Merion police squad. “It’s a memorial for the remembrance of Sept.11,” said senior Delta Tau Delta President Michael Stallings.

“The money [from raffle ticket sales] will go to the Lower Merion Township Police Department’s scholarship fund. Those who are unable to make Sunday’s game can still contribute by purchasing ribbons being sold on campus this week in memory of Sept. 11.

Prior to the game, the Villanova Singers will perform the National Anthem and the color guard will conduct the presentation of the flag. Local politicians have been invited to attend, along with the entire Villanova faculty and administration. “The purpose of the event is to bring together all members of the Villanova family in support of the victims of Sept. 11 and the men and women of the LMPD who protect and serve our community every day,” said Phil O’Neill Assistant Director of Student Development.

“Participation in the event by all members of the University is important and will help create a stronger message.”

Despite the somber remembrances, the game is still intended to be a fun occasion. Food, music and raffles will be available to all that attend the festivities. Men’s basketball coach Jay Wright will get the game underway by throwing out the first pitch; behind the plate, calling balls and strikes, will be Assistant Dean of Students Thomas DeMarco. DeMarco, who is looking forward to the event said, “It [is] for a good cause and I am happy to help out the Villanova community. It also promotes good relationships with local communities.”

Working towards good student/community relations is another goal of Sunday’s game. “Aside from the Sept. 11 theme, another huge theme of this is unity … to promote unity both between the University and the local residents of the township of Lower Merion,” said Stallings. Junior Delta Tau Delta Vice-President of Recruitment Nester Fernandez added it is also about “unity within Greek organizations in general … to build our strength and unity on campus. It can also show at least what our fraternities represent and [others] should be modeled after.”

Fernandez thought of the idea for the charity softball game when he heard that New York City’s fire and police departments compete on the field in something called New York’s Bravest vs. Finest. “I thought that it would be one of the best events ever at Villanova. It would encourage us to fully respect our police officers that are just doing their job and also create unity within our organizations,” said Fernandez.

Going into the game, Lower Merion’s team seems to have the advantage. “It turns out they’re like Philadelphia’s best softball team over the past six years,” said Fernandez. But, this game, Fernandez claims, is not about who wins or loses. Rather, it is just about paying respect to Sept. 11 victims and strengthening community ties.

The Lower Merion Police Department shares in the excitement. “I’ve already had three meetings with the commissioner and he’s been totally full of energy, getting us to help them out … They don’t want to sit in their office on a Friday night filling out reports about the Courts. They want to help us maintain our cool and respect them even more than in the past. That’s basically the whole thing,” explained Fernandez.

This weekend, those who were lost just over a year ago will be honored, while Villanova will seek to create stronger bonds with the surrounding community. Despite the final score on Sunday, there will be no loser in this double-play.