By Michael J. Lewis
After a three-year wait, the lacrosse game that means so much to both Chaminade and Manhasset High School finally returned to its rightful place on the season calendar.
The “Regs Rock” game May 12 once again brought two communities together to celebrate the life of Sgt. Jimmy Regan, a Manhasset kid who grew up to be a lacrosse star at Chaminade and later at Duke University, joined the Army and was killed in action in February 2007.
The “Regs Rock” game has been played annually at Manhasset since 2008, but due to COVID-19 it hadn’t been contested since 2019.
In last week’s game Chaminade dominated from the opening face-off and ran away with a 17-8 win. Each year the game raises money for the Army Lead the Way Fund, a non-profit that provides financial support for severely injured or deceased soldiers.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of this game and honor Jimmy like this,” said Chaminade junior Ryan Landolphi, after he and his mates posed with the Regs Rock trophy. “Jimmy is a Manhasset kid, played for us at Chaminade, and this game is for him. We will always remember and celebrate him.”
Manhasset coach Keith Cromwell echoed those sentiments.
“There’s so much love for lacrosse and for Jimmy at this game every year, and we’re so happy we got to finally play one of these games again,” Cromwell said. “Jimmy’s family has been so wonderful in explaining to the kids on both sides what Jimmy was all about, and the kids really get it.”
If there was one player on the field last week who “got it” more than anyone, it was Chaminade senior Charles Balsamo. The attack was voted by his teammates the honor of wearing Regan’s No. 19 before the season started, and Balsamo also hails from Manhasset.
Additionally, his intelligence and extraordinary skill on the field has resulted in a scholarship to play lacrosse at Duke next year, just like Jimmy did.
“The player who wears it is supposed to emphasize the values to lead like Jimmy, and do everything possible to make sure the team is being successful, so what an honor it is to wear it,” Balsamo said. “And to be from Manhasset, go to Chaminade and then be going to Duke, it’s just pretty surreal to be doing this and to play in this game tonight.”
Chaminade coach Jack Moran, who coached Regan at Chaminade, said Jimmy’s parents, James and Mary, remain a strong presence at the school, each year speaking to the Flyers’ players about their son.
“We have photos of him up everywhere and we tell the new players each year just what he stood for,” Moran said. “To play a program like Manhasset, such a wonderful, historic program, and be a part of this game every year just means a lot to all of us.”
Even though the game’s outcome was never in doubt, both teams’ players showed great sportsmanship after the final whistle, coming together for photos and posing with the Regs Rock trophy that’s awarded to the winner each season.
“It’s just a special environment to be in this game,” Landolphi said. “To keep Jimmy’s memory alive and to have these two great teams playing in front of these fans, it was something we’ve all really been looking forward to.”