Greenbrier High School boys lacrosse coach Jeff Becker recently searched for an appropriate anecdote.
He wanted a story that would exhibit the character, integrity and leadership of senior defender Chris Partridge, who was awarded the inaugural Christine Festa Memorial Character and Integrity Scholarship on Friday.
He settled on a moment during the Wolfpack's loss to Decatur this season, when an opposing attackman got the ball in the crease.
"He didn't see Chris coming from the side, and Chris just leveled the guy," Becker said. "That really brought the team up. I'm not sure if that really goes along with the award. I mean, it was a great clean hit."
The scholarship was presented Friday on the playing field behind Kroger. It was the same field Becker and a group of students were practicing on before the sport was sanctioned at Greenbrier.
Local businessman Paul Meyer was driving, happened to see Becker's group, and stopped to strike up a conversation.
Becker told him he was trying to get approval to start a lacrosse program from former Greenbrier Athletic Director Scott Chadwick, but that locating funding was difficult. Meyer agreed to help and Greenbrier lacrosse was soon up and running.
Meyer later created the scholarship. Christine Festa was the wife of one of Meyer's close friends, Mike Festa. She died April 19 following a struggle with cancer.
Mike and Christine had helped a young Meyer by sending him a $20,000 check after one of Meyer's business deals turned sour.
After learning of Christine's death, Meyer decided to launch the scholarship.
"I thought what better way to return what they'd done for me than to start a memorial scholarship for either a men's or women's lacrosse player who displayed the same character, spirit and that type of personality," Meyer said.
Meyer chose Partridge because of the close relationship he had with the player and his family. He said the Wolfpack senior was often a dinner guest at the Meyer home.
At the Wolfpack's lacrosse banquet after the season ended, the conversation turned to where the seniors planned to go to college.
"(Partridge) said 'Wherever the Lord leads me,'" Meyer said. "I was impressed with that approach."
Becker said Partridge's playing approach was that of a low-key leader.
"He led by example; going out there and playing hard," the coach said. "He never wanted to come out."
Meyer said he would like to see the scholarship grow in future years. This year, he chose a player he knew, but in following years the scholarship recipient will be chosen through an application process.
The player must be a senior boy or girl lacrosse player from the Augusta area, where only Greenbrier and Lakeside field teams.
"It will be somebody who's demonstrated character, integrity and leadership throughout the school year, especially in the sport of lacrosse," Becker said.
"We want to go by not just winning, but by demonstrating those principles."
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