For the first time since its inception in 2004, Lauren Loose was unable to attend her namesake football camp.
Normally she would make an appearance at Lauren’s first and football goal (LFG), speaking to thousands of high school players and hundreds of coaches, all there in her honor. She is a survivor of several brain tumors and cancer diagnoses, which she has battled since her initial diagnosis of type 1 neurofibromatosis in 1997.
The money raised in these camps – which normally takes place in early June at Lafayette College (Easton, Pa.) – has gone towards grants for pediatric tumor research, pediatric cancer services or directly to patients and families in need. Players would pay to participate in the event; others made additional donations for the camp’s eponymous charity. The coaches would give their time and energy free to teach them. Many also made donations to the charity.
Prior to 2021, the annual one-day camp raised $ 2.6 million. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced its cancellation in 2020. The event was originally scheduled for June 7, 2020, but it was evident that it could not continue safely as the disease spread throughout the world. country. Marianne Loose and John Loose, Lauren’s parents and the main camp organizers, were forced to repay some of the money the players spent to attend. Others understood the importance of money and simply viewed it as a gift.
That didn’t change the fact that as long as COVID-19 remained a threat, LFG couldn’t host its biggest fundraising event.
Such thoughts kept Marianne Loose awake at night. That and the occasional social worker, who calls from a partner hospital to tell them that a family needs financial support. She and her husband John – former defensive coordinator at Lafayette and current assistant head coach under Jeff Monken in the military – had never faced a test like this in their 17 years of organizing the event.
“’We have to do something. We have to find something. We have to do it,” recalls Marianne Loose. “It was mandatory that we find something.
“I just didn’t know what it was going to be.
When the Loose family founded the LFG camp in 2004, it had around 300 players and 56 coaches, the latter of whom knew them in some way and wanted to help them and their charity in any way they could.
Over the years, the camp has grown into one of the largest one-day football clinics in the country, even with secondary venues in Ohio and Florida. At its peak, a one-day camp could accommodate some 2,500 campers and hundreds of college and professional coaches.
The bonds made by the Loose family in these camps are ultimately what allowed them to organize an event in 2021.
Keith Grabowski had worked at camp twice while coaching at Baldwin Wallace University, and knew firsthand how important it was to be able to keep going, in a way. Grabowski, now director of football at CoachTube – an online service that provides access to training and video content from coaches around the world – approached the Loose family with a new format that could allow LFG to continue to raise funds.
“When COVID shut it all down, I reached out to John and Marianne Loose to set up a virtual clinic and put together the best lineup of clinic trainers ever,” said Grabowski. “We were all excited about the concept and after talking to some varsity coaches initially we knew we had a concept the coaches would support. From there the work started and we really didn’t hear the word ‘no’.
After a trial in the spring to make sure the format would work – “that was great” – John Loose, Grabowski and Wade Floyd, Founder of CoachTube and CoachesClinic, started work on the inauguration LFG Coaching Clinic.
A big part of this was recruiting coaches who wanted to participate. Not that it is difficult.
the final programming 2021 presented 153 speakers, including representatives from all major college football conferences, including keynote speakers from Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell; Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn; Mack Brown, coach of North Carolina; Rutgers coach Greg Schiano; Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech coach; Baylor coach Dave Aranda; Penn State coach James Franklin; Arizona coach Jedd Fisch; and army trainer Jeff Monken.
John Loose said, “They’re all busy and they’re all pulled in different directions. And it’s amazing the number of coaches who contacted us to do so once they heard about the clinic. … So the outpouring of the profession is incredible to me. It really is. “
Monken, for his part, is not surprised that the clinic has received such a surge of support. He recalls being amazed at the scale of the camp when he first contributed to it in 2014 – the same year he hired John Loose as a security coach for his army staff.
“There are now coaches who contact John and ask if they can be a part of it,” Monken told Sporting News. “He doesn’t have to ask anymore. There are so many coaches that just this week John called and said, ‘Hey, can you fit me in? Can I speak? Can I be part of the clinic? “
The 2021 event was different from previous iterations, even apart from being completely virtual. Where it previously took place over a day and focused on teaching players, the coach-focused clinic lasted four days, from January 14-17.
Coaches could purchase tickets to access the clinic online, with 80% going to LFG. Additionally, the site will create and sell videos of each clinic course, with 80% of the funds also going to the charity. And, due to the virtual nature of the event, LFG didn’t need to spend money on past expenses like lunch, insurance, or other necessary amenities.
Not including donations, John Loose estimates that the four-day event raised over $ 97,000 in funds – similar to what would have been raised during a one-day camp.
Another benefit of the fully virtual clinic has been the increased profile of the charity. While the camp was previously mostly known in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, the 2021 Clinic has captured the attention of viewers as far away as Poland, Germany and Japan. This, the Loose family hopes, will result in an increased profile for the charity – not to mention donations and sponsorships.
The fully virtual setup had its drawbacks, however. Regulars at the event missed Lauren. This includes Franklin, who asked his parents to give him a virtual hug on his behalf.
She also missed the interactions.
“Camp is usually one of my favorite things to do of the year,” Lauren, who turns 24 in February, told SN. “And not having it this year, it’s a bit sad. But I’m glad we found a way to fundraise by doing it this way.
Still, she found a way to speak with coaches; her interaction with Brown was one of the clinic’s highlights.
It remains to be seen whether Lauren’s First and Goal will return to a football camp after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Marianne Loose stated that “everything is still on the table” following the tremendous success of the virtual clinic.
One thing is certain, however: As long as they can, Marianne and John Loose will continue to raise funds not only for pediatric brain tumor research, but also to support families in need. And all in Lauren’s name.
“COVID has put a lot of projects by the wayside,” Marianne Loose said. “But the cancer doesn’t stop because of COVID.”
Neither does the Loose family, it seems.