The Pirates are raising money for pediatric cancer during their game against Burlington Township during the game week when a former teammate’s father and long-time South Jersey coach passed away.
The Cinnaminson girls soccer team has established itself as a consistent winner in South Jersey, but more importantly, it is taking the field to help others, too.
The Pirates were set to host Burlington Township on Friday in a game when they’re raising money for pediatric cancer in conjunction with the Pennsauken-based Go4TheGoal Foundation. The team is selling concessions and asking for donations, with all of the monies going to a local family in need.
“I think it’s super important for kids to be athletic and be involved in sports and teamwork, but to give back and understand that this life is bigger than high school,” Cinnaminson coach Brandon Bond said. “There are a lot of people out there struggling, and if we can do a small, small part to make somebody’s day special, I think it’s fantastic. They get a lot of joy out of it.”
The Pirates were issued special gold laces to wear at a practice on the eve of the game.
The Go4TheGoal Foundation’s “Lace Up” program began in 2011 in an effort to support those battling pediatric cancer. The laces cost $5 each, with $4 (and 100 percent of all other donations) going toward helping children with cancer and their families within the state that funds are raised.
“I think it’s a good fundraiser to bring to the program,” Cinnaminson senior Julianna Bastos said. “I think we get more hyped up, and we’re trying to get a lot more people to come to our games when we’re doing something for a good cause.”
“I think it’s really good for our team, it makes us come together, something to bond over,” said fellow senior captain Grace Kenville. “And it’s good for the community and everyone else, too.”
The timing of Friday’s game was somewhat fitting, too. Earlier in the week, the South Jersey sports community lost Mark Lilley, a long-time coach who touched several schools and communities.
Lilley died on Tuesday after a three-year battle with colon cancer. He was 51.
Lilley has been coaching on Lenape High School’s football staff, but he previously worked with Bond at Pennsauken.
“We had a lot of fond memories together,” Bond said. “Really, he was a mentor to me, as a young kid growing up teaching. He taught me a lot about what it is to be a teacher, connecting with kids. … It’s a tough loss for the community.”
The Lilley family also has a direct connection to the Pirates girls soccer team. All three of Mark Lilley’s kids went to Cinnaminson, including his daughter, Sami, who played on the Pirates soccer team just two years ago.
“Everyone is so close to their family in the community,” senior captain Maddie Ogden said. “There’s a lot of us going to the viewing on Saturday, so it’s good we’re doing something for cancer.”
“His oldest (Ryan) son was in my brother’s grade,” said Bastos, “so our families grew up together, played sports together. And his other son (Jack) is a junior here. We’re taking off from practice Saturday to go to his viewing. I think it got us more excited for the game (raising money), because even if it’s not colon cancer we thought of him, of him passing.”
After trying on their new gold laces, Cinnaminson’s girls soccer team was bound for Sopranos for their regular team dinner the night before a game. They have another important game coming up after this one, too, with rival Rancocas Valley.
But knowing there are things in life bigger than wins and losses should go down as the biggest victory for the Pirates soccer program.
“Hopefully it’s something they enjoy and they’ll take with them,” Bond said. “And later on in life if they’re able to do things like this, or coach their own team one day, they’ll remember doing this with us and it’ll spread forward, keep passing it forward.”