In sports, just as in life, loss is inevitable. No matter how difficult the loss, it is the ability to turn it into something positive that truly matters.
Losses on the field or on the court can be hard, but losing someone close is infinitely more impactful. On May 2, 2017, the students at Jordan High School lost a friend and promising athlete. Trey Ennis was a lacrosse player and swimmer who had just wrapped up his freshman year. Ennis had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, or ALL, the previous May.
The loss hit the community hard. Known as “No. 14” to his teammates, Ennis was a dynamic young man who left behind a positive mark on every life he touched. Jordan High School varsity lacrosse coach Mike Ricucci came up with the idea of remembering Ennis by launching a lacrosse tournament in his honor. He felt it was the best way to honor his former player and all those left behind who knew and loved him.
“Trey loved the outdoors and could almost always be found hunting, fishing and playing lacrosse,” recalls Jennifer Feiler, an assistant director on the Trey Ennis Lacrosse for Leukemia Memori- al Tournament team. “He couldn’t get enough time to either play or watch his favorite UNC players take the field or court. While a typical strong-minded kid, he was wise beyond his years and always put others before himself. His friends remember him as upbeat, quick to share a joke and an outstanding teammate.”
LEGACY THROUGH LACROSSE
The Warbirds Lacrosse Association stepped in to help bring the tournament to life. Warbirds is a Durham-based nonprofit that strives to support the growth of lacrosse in the Durham area, particularly at the middle school and high school levels. The group was moved by the loss of Ennis and was eager to build something positive from a difficult situation.
“The purpose of the tournament is to bring together local lacrosse programs in Durham to raise money and awareness for childhood leukemia,” explains Shad Wilson, tournament director of the Trey Ennis Lacrosse for Leukemia Memorial Tournament. “The event will also help generate funding to support local Durham middle school and high school lacrosse.”
In Ennis’ honor, the tournament benefits the Duke Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant (PBMT) Family Support Program, which provides a wide array of inpatient and outpatient support services to patients and their families at no charge.
“The PBMT Family Support Program offers support for families while their child is going through cancer treatment,” Wilson explains. “Many families have long stays during their childs’ illness and the program helps with things like meals, activities and more. The Ennis family continues to be involved with the PBMT Family Support Center, and there even is a pantry for families named after Trey.”
A TOURNAMENT IS BORN
The inaugural tournament was held in fall of 2017. The second Trey Ennis Tournament built on the success of the original and took place on November 17 and 18, 2018.
“Both years we have had the support of Jordan High School’s principal, Susan Taylor, and her staff,” Wilson says. “The first year went really well and we considered it a big success. In 2018, we really increased the sponsorships and were able to get the word out on social media in conjunction with the Durham Sports Commission. We were able to double the amount of money raised from the first year. In 2019, we really hope we can grow to 12 local North Carolina teams.”
The 2018 tournament consisted of nine local teams spread out on three fields on Saturday. Each team played four games each. Sunday’s activities continued with one play-in game and then seeding into the top four teams for playoffs and a championship game.