ReWarding 5K Awards $2,000 to North Hills, Unity Reed Lacrosse Players to Honor a Legacy

To honor the legacy of Adam F. Ward as an educator and lacrosse coach, the ReWarding 5K awarded a combined $2,000 in financial assistance to four students from North Hills High School in Pittsburgh and Unity Reed High School in Manassas, Va. 

Adam was involved in lacrosse programs at both North Hills and Unity Reed, previously named Stonewall Jackson High School. Adam was a long time coach and teacher at Stonewall Jackson. After returning home to Pittsburgh, Adam became Assistant Lacrosse coach at North Hills High School, his Alma Mater. In 2019, he became the head coach of boys varsity lacrosse at North Hills. After one Scrimmage game, the season was canceled due to Covid. In Fall of 2020, Adam was preparing his team for the upcoming Spring season when he became ill. Within a few weeks, he lost his brief and sudden battle with Hepatosplenic T-cell Lymphoma in Nov. 2020.

To honor his memory and carry on his commitment to helping people excel, the ReWarding 5K dedicated financial awards to student athletes at both North Hills and Unity Reed. Those awards were given to Matt Edlinger, Conner Radecki, and Nikolai Kunsak from North Hills and Corum McCuller of Unity Reed high schools. All the student athletes were coached by Adam at some point in their lacrosse careers and wrote essays about their experiences and subsequent contributions to their character. 

Ruth and Donal Ward, Adam’s parents, were on hand this Thursday night to represent the 5k committee and present the awards to Matt, Conner, and Nikolai at North Hills High School.  

Matt was a freshman in 2019 and decided to join a strong North Hills team. That’s when he met Adam, who he, like all the award recipients, almost exclusively refers to as Coach Ward. Matt’s status as a freshman back then didn’t afford him a lot of playing time on the team but Adam made an impact on him nonetheless.

“Coach Ward was the only person who gave me a chance to play,” Matt wrote. “He asked me to play long stick midfield and I became the third and then second string behind Carson Meckler. Coach Ward believed in me, and it boosted my confidence and helped me see my potential.”

“Without Coach Ward, I would not be where I am today,” Matt added. “He gave me the confidence as a player and helped me believe in myself as a man. Without Coach Ward, I would not be playing lacrosse in college.” Matt will continue playing lacrosse at Thiel College.

Conner knew upon first meeting Adam that he was special.

“In my freshmen year, I met Coach Ward,” Conner wrote. “It was obvious from the start that he’d be more than just a coach. He was a mentor that all players could look up to.” Conner plans to attend La Roche University and continue playing lacrosse.

Nikolai was coached by Adam for both his 10th and 11th grade years and learned that lacrosse is more than just a sport.

“Lacrosse has helped me realize that things can change in an instant but I should feel grateful to have my friends there along the way,” Nikolai wrote. Nikolai will attend Thiel College and continue playing lacrosse.

Also, this June, Ruth and Donal traveled to Unity Reed High School for the annual Lacrosse Alumni game and to present the designated award to Corum McCuller. 

McCuller started his lacrosse career under Adam at Stonewall Jackson High School. As McCuller said in his essay, Adam was integral in his school even having a program. 

“Our neighboring high schools were well populated with experienced lacrosse players,” McCuller wrote. “Stonewall did not have this luxury. In fact, I feel confident to say if it was not for Coach Ward, Stonewall would not have had a boys lacrosse program for me to join. Coach Ward knew there were boys that wanted to play but needed a coach.”

“He stepped up and chose to coach the team. I know this was a joyful challenge for him and I will be forever grateful for his selfless actions,” McCuller wrote.

McCuller, now a lacrosse player at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Pa., believes he is the person he is today because of what he learned playing lacrosse.

“Our lacrosse team [at Stonewall Jackson] might not have had the best record in the county, but I firmly believe we had the best character,” McCuller wrote. “We exhibited teamwork, respect, dedication, perseverance, resiliency, and humbleness to say the least. We learned the importance of being respectable young men who happened to play lacrosse.”

Congratulations to the recipients. Please continue honoring Adam’s memory by registering for the ReWarding5K, held Nov. 13, 2022, at North Park in Pittsburgh. Register today

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