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Men’s Lacrosse Team Hosts Third Annual 9/11 Stair Climb

by Janelle Hill M’23 Sep 13, 2023
Mens Lacrosse 911 Stair Climb

Matt Brancaccio ’09 remembers exactly where he was and what he was doing the morning of September 11, 2001. 

The men’s lacrosse head coach grew up not far from New York City, and he was sitting in his high school classroom when word began circulating about an attack on the World Trade Center. 

“My homeroom teacher was our social studies teacher and she decided that this was history, and she wanted us to watch exactly what was going on,” he said. “I watched live as the second tower was struck, which is something I’ll never forget. Our country was never the same after that day. A lot of people were affected by it, including myself.” 

Brancaccio recounted his experience with the team to inspire his players as they began their third annual stair climb to benefit the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Players ran up and down the bleachers on the turf field a whopping 185 times—matching the number of tower steps first responders climbed that fateful day. 

Though the players are too young to remember September 11th, the day has special meaning to them because of assistant coach Paul Mess, who worked for the Port Authority of NY/NJ Police Academy for 26 years and who lost his best friend and partner on 9/11. 

“It’s really touching for all of us because we love coach Mess and try to do everything we can to welcome him with open arms and show him that we care.” 

 Beau Neff ’24, sport and exercise physiology major

Pat Wixted ’24, a sport management major, shared similar sentiments.

“It’s the least we can do to honor coach Mess and his friends,” he said. “We also want to show our gratitude to all the firefighters, police officers, and first responders out there and thank them for their service. They truly are heroes.” 

The men’s lacrosse team has raised thousands of dollars to date for Tunnel to Towers, a nonprofit that honors the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller, as well as military and first responders.