Marist Football Players Team Up With Former NY Giant, Nonprofit Group to Help Veterans

Members of Marist’s football team, led by Offensive Line Coach Jake Dembow ’09/’15M, embodied the College’s tradition of service by volunteering as guest coaches for a flag football game at the New York State Veterans’ Home at Montrose in Westchester County.  The event took place on November 1 and was sponsored by Play For Your Freedom, an all-volunteer organization that provides physical fitness and peer-to-peer support to veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. Marist Security Officer Jeff Moseman is active in Play for Your Freedom and connected it with the College.

Participating from Marist were Luke Butera ’20 of Toms River, New Jersey; Matt McKnelly ’20 of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Rich Duncan-Murphy ’18 of Bensalem, Pennsylvania; Joe Fraccaroli ’18 of Wilton, Connecticut; and Kevin Doran ’20 of Cranford, New Jersey.

Football team members volunteer for vets

Pictured (l-r): Offensive Line Coach Jake Dembow ’09/’15M,  Luke Butera ’20, Matt McKnelly ’20, Jeff Moseman, Richard Duncan-Murphy ’18, Joe Fraccaroli ’18, Kevin Doran ’20, and Giants Super Bowl XXV Champion Odessa Turner.

Working together, the Marist student-athletes and veterans took an empty plot of grass on the hospital grounds, added some orange cones, and transformed it into a football field.  Coach Dembow and the Marist players were then pitted against a team featuring former New York Giants Super Bowl XXV Champion Odessa Turner.  Throughout the friendly competition, there were high fives and smiles all around, and the match ended in a tie.   

Upon completion of the game, one veteran summed up the thoughts of many: “Having Odessa Turner and the Marist College players with us made me feel appreciated and grateful for their visit.”  Another added, “The feeling of togetherness, camaraderie, and teamwork gives us a sense of purpose that I think so many of us miss.  Simply knowing that someone out there cares means the world to us.”