Virginia senior men's lacrosse player Max Pomper will be presented with the second annual IMLCA Boston Market Humanitarian Award during the IMLCA Nike Awards luncheon Friday at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.
The award was created to recognize student-athletes for their strategies and efforts in addressing community needs with campus-based efforts. Pomper will be honored with the award for his work raising funds for the University of Virginia's HELP hotline.
When former Virginia lacrosse standout Will Barrow died in November of 2008, former teammate and close friend Pomper (Huntington, N.Y.) initiated the fundraising event "Remembering Will Barrow," which was a flag football tournament on Nov. 7, featuring area college lacrosse teams, with all proceeds going to HELP, the University of Virginia's non-profit, student-run crisis hotline.
HELP Line is an anonymous, confidential telephone service serving the residents of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia. It is affiliated with the University's Madison House. HELP strives to provide callers with an empathetic ear for any sort of issue they wish to discuss and on finding long-term services in the community for callers, such as counseling services, medical services or drug treatment programs.
"It is a great honor to receive such a special award," said Pomper. "The first annual Will Barrow Flag Football Tournament was a huge success. The event could not have happened without the help of my teammates, especially Mikey Thompson and Kyle Menendez, who worked closely with me. I am humbled to be the recipient of this award and am proud to have represented Virginia Lacrosse in a positive way."
The college lacrosse community rallied around Pomper's initiative. Programs from Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, North Carolina and Washington & Lee participated in the inaugural tournament. Through Pomper's efforts and the involvement of the lacrosse community, nearly $10,000 already has been raised for HELP with monies continuing to be received from across the nation.
"The hotline has been underfunded for 17 years with no sponsorships," said Pomper. "We wanted to honor our friend Will Barrow and spread awareness of crisis prevention. With the HELP hotline, there is an outlet for people in need in times of crisis around the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville area. This is something we wish Will would have known about."
Pomper cites Barrow, who hailed from Baldwin, N.Y., as a big reason he continued his lacrosse career with the Cavaliers.
"We grew up together in neighboring towns on Long Island," said Pomper. "Our fathers are great friends and would drive to games together. My favorite memories at Virginia, whether we were on the field or off, are with Will. That is why I want to do what I can to use Will's passing as a positive in helping others dealing with crisis."
As a fourth-year player in 2008, Barrow was a captain of a squad that advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships. He was considered one of the top defensive midfielders in the country throughout his career. During his senior season, he finished with a career-high 28 ground balls, while scoring seven goals and adding three assists. Following the season he was selected in the second round of the Major League Lacrosse draft by the Chicago Machine and appeared in five games during his rookie year. He appeared in 63 games during his Virginia career and scored 18 goals with seven assists. Barrow also was a member of the Cavaliers' 2006 NCAA Champion team.
"As we approach the first anniversary of Will's passing, Max's idea for this tournament and the work of his teammates has helped bring a difficult moment into focus," said Virginia head men's lacrosse coach Dom Starsia. "It is certainly appropriate that the HELP hotline be the beneficiary of this effort. It has been very gratifying to see the larger lacrosse community respond in such an enthusiastic and positive manner. Will is still very close to us all and it is helpful to have some good arise from this situation. In Will's memory, I hope through this event the money raised will help someone else in crisis."
All men's varsity collegiate lacrosse players are eligible for the Boston Market Humanitarian Award. Nominees were evaluated based on the following criteria:
- An innovative approach to building or enhancing campus-based efforts to address community issues and needs;
- Use of diverse strategies of engagement (service, service-learning, policy work, advocacy, etc.);
- Ability to lead, inspire, and engage other students and/or members of the institution;
- Efforts to sustain engagement by developing strategies to build their work into the institution's structure.
The IMLCA Boston Market Humanitarian Award was created to promote the leadership skills of those within the lacrosse community, past, current and future, who have generated value to their communities and institutions by assisting others in need. These individuals have learned that by assisting others, their actions benefit everyone around them.
Reid Seligmann, Brown University, was the inaugural recipient of the IMLCA Boston Market Humanitarian Award in 2008.
Pomper will be the second person with Virginia lacrosse ties to be honored at the luncheon on Friday. Former Virginia assistant media relations director Michael Colley will be honored with the Doyle Smith Sports Information/Media Award.