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Team GOAT Wins Championship in Final Outing Honoring Fallen West Hartford Hero

Brendan Frobel hugs Ray Philippon as Team GOAT's 12-year run comes to an end with a championship in the Glastonbury Lacrosse Tournament July 21, 2019. Courtesy photo

Team GOAT played for the 12th time in the Glastonbury Lacrosse tournament the weekend of July 20-21, 2019, honoring Larry Philippon.

Team GOAT, all wearing no. 33. Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

By Ronni Newton

It was hot and it was humid, but the weather did nothing to deter Team GOAT from bringing home the championship in their final outing honoring a former teammate.

Team GOAT first took the field in the Glastonbury Lacrosse Tournament in 2008, playing in honor of former U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Larry Philippon, a West Hartford man who was killed while serving the U.S. in Iraq in 2005.

An actual goat on the sidelines, brought by a local farmer to support Team GOAT. Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

Philippon’s high school nickname was “goat,” and when the team was formed they felt it was only fitting to assume that “greatest of all time” moniker. At some point a local farmer learned about the team, and now brings real goat mascots to the sidelines in support of Team GOAT.

For 12 years every player on this team of primarily Conard Lacrosse alumni has worn no. 33, the number that Philippon wore when he played for Conard. While some members of Team GOAT played with Philippon, many others played before and long after he was a Conard student but nevertheless honor his legacy.

“We try to pass on to a younger generation of Conard High School lacrosse players that life is bigger than winning and losing. That being a part of this lacrosse community is about being a party of something larger than the game itself, it’s a family. It’s about coming together each summer and using lacrosse as a means to remember what sacrifice is and means,” said Brendan Frobel, who played with Philippon at Conard and was the founder leader of Team GOAT.

“A gift to our family and such an incredible group of young men raised in our town leading by example,” Leesa Philippon told We-Ha.com.

“Before he became a Marine, he was a boy. He was a son, a brother, family, a West Hartford resident, a youth soccer, baseball, football player and a Conard alumni playing hockey and lacrosse,” Leesa said in an interview with NBC Connecticut. “He was one of these men who has been wearing his number 33 playing with integrity, love of the sport and love of team.”

While at Conard, Larry earned all-conference honors in lacrosse, and was an all-state hockey goalie.

On Sunday, Team GOAT won the championship. They previously won in 2010 and 2014, but this year’s was extra special, the end of a beautiful 12-year tribute to Larry. Many of the players are now in their 30s, with young children of their own, and have decided it’s time to retire the team.

Larry’s parents, Leesa and Ray Philippon, with the championship plaque. Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

“I have been blessed beyond measure by this team. Brendan Frobel and all of the incredible men who have ran the field for Larry have brought joy, precious memories, laughter, and honor to the years following Larry’s death in Iraq,” Leesa wrote on her Facebook page before the tournament began. “We will always cherish these special 12 years of going back in time and reliving the excitement of watching them play lacrosse. Larry’s spirit has run that field with them as he will tomorrow.”

The memories are priceless, Leesa said, and will be cherished by the Philippon family, as well as the players, and their families who have faithfully cheered on the sidelines.

Leesa expressed her thanks to Frobel for spearheading the tribute, as well as to Michael and Barbara Keating and Keating Agency Insurance for their support.

“You have been beside us every step of this journey and have honored the efforts of Team GOAT with your faithful support,” Leesa wrote on Facebook. “Bill and Annie Condon your leadership all these years has enabled this team to be spectacular! This team has grown over the years and each member who has played holds a special place in our hearts. You are all champions and forever winners in our hearts. No winner’s plaque is big enough to acknowledge the place that you hold in our hearts. When we survey the big hole in our hearts and lives that Larry had to leave, we can smile and be comforted because we know that Team Goat takes up position in that gap. Ray Philippon and I, along with Emilee Pescatore and Bryan Philippon, can only imagine the pride and gratitude that Larry holds for you in his heart. God bless you all.”

The Philippon family has also continued to honor their son’s memory with charitable causes, including the Lance Corporal Lawrence Philippon Dance and Fundraiser, held each February at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in West Hartford. The event raises funds for two scholarships – for a male and female lacrosse player – awarded in Philippon’s name at Conard and Hall high schools in town.

Another important charity that receives donations in Philippon’s honor is Operation Smile, an organization that Larry started funding back in the early 2000s.

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Team GOAT. Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

Team GOAT. Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

Team GOAT. Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

An appropriate beverage for Team GOAT. Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Keating.

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