After all, it's the first time in over eight years that the No. 8 Great Danes have hosted a top-10 matchup on their home field, taking on No. 7 Yale at Bob Ford Field. But while a victory would be huge for the team, and for its RPI standings heading into the postseason, it would also be a chance to honor a local kid who has become as much as part of the team as anyone on the roster.
|Honsinger received a sign UA lax jersey from the team|
during practice last year - via UAlbany Athletics
JP Honsinger, who earned national attention this winter after being signed as part of the men's basketball recruiting class, is currently battling childhood Alzheimers and the Danes are even more focused on honoring him.
"I think the win isn’t the thing. I think the thing we are always more concerned about is how we play," said Danes coach Scott Marr. "The game itself, when you’re talking about the creator’s game and playing for someone who is ill, it’s not always about a win or loss, it’s about how you play and how you conduct yourself. We just want to play well and play hard and hope that just present a good game."
Honsinger has been a consistent presence on the sidelines for the Danes' lax squad over the past few years and this isn't the first time the group has honored him or his fight. Tonight, the team sold $15 chairback sits at midfield through Honsinger's fund Jammin' for JP and all of those seats will also receive a JP bobblehead.
"(Yale is) a great team but we’re a great too team. We’re excited to play in this stadium. We’re excited to honor JP too, that’s one thing we’re really excited about," said Danes goalie Blaze Riorden. "He’s been around our team the last two years and he’s a huge influence on us. Each and every day we come out and we play for each other, but we also play for him. So that makes it a little more special."
For the Danes, seeing Honsinger's constant positive outlook and his determination to be part of the team is as much a motivator as Yale's national ranking.
A win against the Bulldogs could have a huge impact on UA's post-season chances but it is also a chance to bring awareness to a cause and a fight that has come to shape this team off the field as well. Honsinger battles every day and so, for this one night, the Danes will battle; in his honor.
"He kind of just brings us all together," said midfielder Tim Cox. "Whenever he comes out on the field, if you’re having a bad day, you’re having a good day, he always makes you feel better. He’s out here running around and he gives you that good, warm feeling in your heart. For him to be out here, for that night, it’s going to be a lot more focused on him which is going to help bring us together on the field."