The long-standing boys lacrosse rivalry between the Oswego and Fulton high school communities will look to add another wrinkle during the annual Oswego Harborfest weekend.
The Buccaneers and Red Raiders have scheduled an alumni lacrosse game for noon on July 27 at Oswego High School’s Wilbur Field, open to all former players from each program.
Oswego coach Robert ‘Doc,’ Nelson said that 57 total players had confirmed their intent to play as of last Friday, with at least 25 players committed to each side for what he deemed should be the largest and best-organized alumni game between the two close-knit foes from neighboring school districts.
The Buccaneers will be represented by a slew of recent graduates and Nelson anticipates at least one player that graduated in 1988 and played on his first varsity team, along with a few graduates from the early 1990’s. Oswego will also have at least two father-son combinations in action.
“It’s absolutely about the socialization,” Nelson said. “The lacrosse is always pretty miserable because you get someone that’s 18 (years-old) and somebody that’s 48, and things don’t usually go too well. It’s the storytelling and getting to see people again, catching up with people. There are a couple guys coming back who I haven’t seen since they played for me.”
Former players can arrive and sign up on the day of the event, and a $10 donation is encouraged to help pay for the field, officials, and an on-site trainer. Oswego alumni will wear white shirts and Fulton will sport the visitor’s red.
Nelson and Fulton head varsity coach, Aaron Koproski, are aiming to establish the game as an annual outing to coincide with Harborfest, which tends to draw each school’s alumni base back to the area.
Oswego and Fulton have each held separate versions of alumni games in past decades — Nelson recalled a Christmas-week tradition of alumni facing off at the now-defunct Pathfinder Bank Community Sports Complex during his initial years with the program — but attendance was often scarce.
Both coaches utilized social media to reach a broader base of former players this year after agreeing to give it a try in mid-June, and said the reaction has been encouraging thus far.
“The Fulton players had been asking for some kind of alumni game, especially some of our older alumni, they had been wanting to have one and we just haven’t been able to get one going,” Koproski said. “When this opportunity arose I thought we had to jump on it.”
Koproski likened the concept to the former tradition of his alma mater, Immaculate Heart Central, facing city rival Watertown High School in a boys lacrosse alumni game each summer.
“All sorts of people would come out of the woodwork for it and it was a great time,” Koproski said. “There were a lot of laughs, and yeah there was a competition and stuff, but it was a really always about a great time.”
The alumni game will also provide an additional chance to showcase the slew of decorated players that have graduated from each program and gone on to play college lacrosse, and display the mutual respect and admiration that each program shares.
Oswego and Fulton have combined their modified summer league team this year and high school players from each school will often play together on the same squad during offseason tournaments.
“Yes we are rivals and we have the Pathfinder Crosse trophy that we started recently between the two schools, but the two communities do rely on each other,” Koproski said. “Even though we’re separated, we are really tied together and I think this is another way of showing that mutual respect towards each other.”