The Cabrini men’s lacrosse team will be playing their 2019 season dedicated to strength, hard work, determination and for the legacy of John “Jake” Durkin.
Durkin passed away unexpectedly on April 10, 2016 in Wayne, Pennsylvania, while enrolled as a transfer freshman at Cabrini university. Ever since then, Cabrini University’s community and Durkin’s hometown, Horsham, Pennsylvania, have been affected and put their best foot forward, on or off the lacrosse field.
“Jake’s impact, even though here for three months, goes well beyond the three months of him being in the lacrosse program,” Steve Colfer, head coach of Cabrini men’s lacrosse, said. “Alumni knew his name, the athletes that played with Jake remember him, and even the incoming freshman know and respect his name. Jake will just always be a part of the program and it’s a reminder to be smart and to watch out for one another.”
For a local middle school in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Durkin coached a team with many young athletes, including, now, sophomore Brian Hood. While deciding where to go for college, Durkin had one of the many impacts on Hood’s decision to attend Cabrini in particular.
“It was recently right after Jake passed, I decided to attend Cabrini,” Hood said. “Because Jake played at Cabrini, I felt like I had an opportunity and it sparked my interest. The first day I met with the coaches, one of the first questions I asked was if I could wear Jake’s jersey because knowing him on and off the field, I wanted to represent him and the number the best I could. Jake was just always someone I looked up to and wanted to be like so wearing his number was just a physical reminder that I play for him every time I put on my practice penny or my uniform.”
Senior captain, Jordan Krug agreed when asked about the importance on how athletes dedicate games or seasons to loved ones or events like how many dedicate this season to Durkin.
“Dedication gives extra motivation to the players,” Krug said. “In the past, my cousin passed during my sophomore season and having that dedication puts in perspective that stepping onto the field and having that opportunity, not everyone has. Some players get it cut short and aren’t as fortunate athletically. It’s a good way to put into perspective when having that mindset and it’s important to dedicate the plays to people we love and the people that care for us.”
With the little time Durkin had as a Cabrini athlete, he taught important messages that have been passed among the team.
“Jake was so energetic and so passionate about the sport that it made us really value the sport even more,” Krug said. “His memory teaches us that an opportunity that we have now can always be put into jeopardy at any moment so it’s just a constant reminder really.”
Coaching Durkin for a few months, Colfer saw his spark immediately.
“Jake was an energetic, dynamic, fun-loving young man who had a very bright future,” Colfer said.
Wearing two hats and being an athlete while a coach, Durkin used his knowledge and coached players that had the love for the sport he enjoyed and loved. In that position, Durkin knew what was best and how to teach young athletes how to be smart on the field.
“When I met Jake my 8th-grade year, I never met anyone with that much IQ when it comes to the game,” Hood said. “He could honestly play the field no matter what situation he was in, Jake was just one step ahead of everyone else. As my friend, he was the guy anyone could go to for a problem.
This would have been Dunkin’s senior year. To remember and give back to his name, a GoFundMe page was created in his name to hopefully create a wall ball with his name across Feb. 11th.
“The senior class brought up the idea and set up the GoFundMe page and presented it to the team as well as Jake’s parents after a practice,” Hood said. “As soon as the GoFundMe was live, I shared the link on my social media platforms and it took off. I had a bunch of people direct message me and I also personally shared the link and people were more than willing to share and share.”
Scrolling through the names that donated and left messages, Hood was happy for the community to come together in memory of a community-based person.
“Reading through the GoFundMe and seeing all the names I connected with and with people from my home and from Cabrini, it was just amazing,” Hood said. “I saw family and friend’s names – half that donated when I first looked were people from home.”
Within 23 hours of the link being live and having the goal at $5,000, the bar was pushed with $520 extra raised by 120 people. The GoFundMe link ended Feb. 14 with $7,751.
“I like to play the game. I like to push myself and my teammates to the next level during any and all opportunities while representing Jake, just so he can look down and have him proud, makes it so much better,” Hood said. “When we have that wall ball, I know that will be another reminder for everyone to play with motivation and to push themselves harder and to give it our all. I still believe every senior picture Jake in their class and picture him here with them. I still think he is a part of the graduating class of 2019.”
Dunkin’s memory will live on forever but for the upcoming season, starting strong for Dunkin is the expectation for everyone.
“Jake was the one to get me to play the position I am in now,” Hood said. “I’m so happy that we are starting the season with the memory of Jake. I’m happy it’s adding more motivation to the team and I’m super excited for the season.