Staples Lacrosse Sticks Up For Soldiers

James Hazelip does not live in Westport. But the US Army combat veteran — who deployed twice to Iraq — considers this his adopted home town.

He’s seen the kindness, care and generosity of Westporters personally, on visits with 2 non-profits: Sticks for Soldiers and Catch a Lift.

“Sticks” uses lacrosse to raise funds to support wounded vets and their families. Catch a Lift provides gym memberships and home equipment, fitness programs and motivational peer support to post-9/11 combat-wounded military personnel.

Staples lacrosse players wear special pinneys for the “Sticks for Soldiers” game. (Photo/Shelley Burger Sports)

In the past year, Hazelip has been to Westport twice. Both times, he says, “I met amazing people. They really care about and take action for the welfare of our service members and veterans.”

This Saturday (April 21), Hazelip returns the love. He’s the keynote speaker at Staples High School’s 7th annual Sticks for Soldiers event. After the girls’ 4 p.m. game, and before the boys’ 6 p.m. contest, Hazelip will deliver inspiring remarks to the football stadium crowd.

James Hazelip

He’s got quite a story. PTSD nearly cost Hazelip his life. He struggled with substance abuse, gained 100 pounds, and spent more than a month in a coma. Speaking to Westporters is part of his journey to rebuild his life.

That’s not all he’ll do. The Army vet will also address the Wrecker boys team in the locker room before and after their game.

A Navy lieutenant who served on 4 destroyers during her 15-year military career will speak to the Staples girls team too.

Staples lacrosse coaches, and their PAL counterparts, have planned an important afternoon. The ceremony between the boys and girls games includes presentation of the colors, and remarks by Sticks for Soldiers president Jeff Casucci.

The 2016 Sticks for Soldiers lacrosse game at Staples included a speaker and color guard — and this intriguing double image. (Photo/ Shelley Burger Sports)

During halftime of both games, PAL youth teams will play scrimmages.

A suggested minimum donation of $5 raises funds for Sticks for Soldiers. Proceeds from food and drink sales will also benefit the organization.

Whether you’re an avid lax fan or have never seen a game, te sure to “stick” Saturday on your calendar. You’ll welcome James Hazelip back to Westport — and help many other soldiers too.

(To donate to Sticks for Soldiers, click here. For more information on Saturday’s event, email

5 responses to “Staples Lacrosse Sticks Up For Soldiers

  1. Adam Vengrow

    This is awesome!!!! I know Ed Iannone, Navy and awesome westport resident, huge driver of this effort to help and inspire others. James Hazelip has climbed the toughest mountain after serving this great country. It really is an honor to have Westport hear his words! It is so important for towns like ours and kids growing up to hear these stories of courage, will, support, and success! Thanks for the heads up Dan!

  2. Stacia Jacobs

    Thank you for bringing light to this worthy cause that brings awareness to our children and community of the enormous sacrifices our service men and women make.

  3. My oldest son graduated from Staples in 2002 and was, as recall, one of only two graduating seniors to go directly into military service – the U.S. Navy in his case. He was never exposed to combat and never experienced anything like the intensity that Mr. Hazelip did, but like his peers he worked his heart out for six years and made his contribution – I’m very proud of him for it. Thanks for sharing this story, Dan. Veterans deserve our gratitude and support.

  4. Edward Iannone

    Dan thanks sharing our story. Westporers have shown great compassion and have been generous with our veterans. Jen Schwartz and Stacia Jacobs in particular are great patriots that have volunteered hundreds of hours over the last several years for Westport’s S4S event.

  5. Tom Feeley Sr

    Great story Dan🇺🇸