‘Overwhelmingly supportive.’ 3rd annual Reindeer Games played in honor of Jimmy McGrath
Almost 50 lacrosse teams across Connecticut came to Bridgeport’s Puglio Park on Saturday to show support for a teammate who passed away last year. They said he loved the game the most.
Jimmy McGrath, 17, was a Fairfield Prep lacrosse player. He was fatally stabbed at a Shelton party in May 2022.
His family, friends, teammates and local community came together this year to put on the annual “Reindeer Games,” a lacrosse tournament to fundraise for Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse. This year they went the extra mile to pay tribute to Jimmy who was involved in the first Reindeer Games.
News 12 Connecticut’s Tom Krosnowski spent the day inside the third annual Reindeer Games and spoke with Jimmy’s loved ones – like his father, Kevin McGrath.
“We lost our son 18 months ago…the lacrosse community has been overwhelmingly supportive,” said Kevin McGrath. “Jimmy participated in this event in its infancy and it was just a great time.”
Those who knew him said one of his passions was giving back to the game he loved.
“Just the way he interacted with the kids, the way he was a leader and the way that he showed love,” said Don Wilson, of Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse. “He showed love to our kids here in Bridgeport.”
“We're just carrying on the tradition in his memory,” said Kevin McGrath.
Over the years, the Reindeer Games tournament has grown massively. Rose McGrath, Jimmy’s sister, said they’ve seen a spike in the amount of teams signing up.
“Last year, there [were] 10 teams and this year we have 48!” said Rose McGrath. “A lot of them are coming to support Jimmy and the foundation we made for him.”
To keep with Jimmy’s fun-loving spirit, there is a dress code for the players and the teams participating were more than enthusiastic about it, dressed head to toe in matching holiday-themed onesies.
“Look at these guys. They're looking great, feeling great and they're playing great,” said Wilson.
Saturday was the rain date for this year’s event, but the McGrath family said they believe it worked out all the better.
“Jimmy's birthday is on Monday…I think he made us cancel and rebook so we just have a good birthday weekend,” said Kevin McGrath.
The Jimmy McGrath Foundation also made a difference to the tournament this year by donating $5,000 to Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse, in addition to the funds raised at the event, which go toward equipment and enrichment programs.
“I can only imagine how happy he is looking down and watching this, but I know if he was here this would be the best weekend ever,” said Rose McGrath.
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