Published: January 12, 2014
When the Colorado Mammoth lacrosse team takes on New York's Buffalo Bandits in Denver on Saturday, it will have more than team pride on the line.
Each member of the team will sport a camouflage-inspired jersey with the last name and service branch of a troop or veteran on the chest, much like a military uniform.
Before hitting the field for the team's second annual military appreciation night game, each player will read the story of the man or woman for whom he's playing.
"It's pretty powerful and moving for the players, and something they told me last year is one of the coolest things they've ever been a part of," said Josh Gross, senior director of lacrosse operations.
The jerseys - which feature a variegated brown camouflage pattern created from the silhouettes of lacrosse players - were auctioned on eBay in December, netting several thousand dollars for the Colorado Springs-based charity The Home Front Cares, which picks up the tab for post-9/11 combat veterans' emergency needs such as rent and car repairs.
Auction winners were asked to provide the Mammoth players with the name, rank, service branch and story of a troop they wanted to honor. Winners were provided with complimentary game tickets so they could be present for the postgame jersey presentation, Gross said.
The military-themed night will feature a presentation of colors by a military color guard, a pregame troops spotlight and a halftime ceremony during which teenagers will pledge to enlist after high school, Gross said.
Various Colorado military charities are selling tickets to the game, and a portion of proceeds will go to those charities, Gross added.
The Mammoth hasn't set a fundraising goal for the game but hopes that it brings attention to the plight of Colorado troops and veterans.
"Every dollar counts," Gross said. "Winning is nice, but ultimately it means nothing in the grand scheme of life, especially compared to what our brave men and women are fighting for."