Aspen High athletes hold youth lacrosse camp to honor the late Michael Goerne
When Michael Goerne died alongside friend Owen Green in a Feb. 16 backcountry avalanche, the lacrosse community in the Roaring Fork Valley was devastated. It was Goerne who started the Aspen Lacrosse Club in 2006, created the Aspen High School boys lacrosse program soon after and coached it to the 2015 state championship.
While Goerne’s absence has created a vacuum in the local lacrosse world, it’s also given a group of his former athletes the chance to step up and take the reins in his name.
“Me and Tyler played under Mike for the last two years of our club careers and I don’t think anyone has impacted the both of us in that way at all,” Storm Silich said. “So we wanted to do something to honor him after he passed away to carry on his legacy, instead of grieving on it.”
Silich and Tyler Ward, who will both be AHS juniors this coming fall, decided the best way to do that would be to create a camp in Goerne’s name. So for three days from July 8 through 10 at Iselin Field in Aspen, they joined with a few other “coaches” to lead the inaugural Michael Goerne Lacrosse Camp.
According to John Silich, Storm’s father, the camp raised more than $6,000 for the Aspen Lacrosse Club in Goerne’s memory.
“We didn’t want to take a single penny away from it. We wanted everything to be for Mike and we really thought we did as much as we could to honor him,” Storm Silich said. “For sure we learned a lot as the week went on and camp got better and better each day, which was super great to see.”
The camp averaged about 30 students a day, all boys between ages 7 and 13. There were six or seven coaches per day, all between ages 14 and 19, most either current or former AHS athletes. They donated about six hours of their time each day to give back to the campers.
“These young men (not boys) did an excellent job of carrying on Mike’s legacy,” current AHS boys lacrosse coach Tommy Cox wrote in an email. “It was perfect that it was a camp by the players, for the players. Mike developed the program we are blessed to have today, through years of selfless acts. This camp embodied that same mentality and undoubtedly brought a smile to Mike’s face as well.”
Ward, who led the AHS lacrosse team in scoring this past spring as a sophomore, insists the camp was all Storm Silich’s idea. Many of the “coaches” had helped coach at Goerne’s camps in the past, but having to organize the entire thing on their own was a new experience.
And it’s an experience they hope to carry on in the future, with the current campers someday stepping up to take over as coaches themselves.
“I learned a lot from teaching the kids. The kids were having fun, they were learning, so that’s kind of all that matters,” Ward said. “We were both really close to (Goerne) and that’s the sort of stuff he would do. He loved lacrosse. That was his passion. To be able to teach the game he loved and follow in his footsteps, in a way, I thought was really cool.”
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Teams have two more weekends of racing before the scheduled regional meet on Oct. 9 in Durango. The state cross country meet is slated for Oct. 17 in Colorado Springs.