The fourth quarter buzzer sounded at Alumni Stadium in a club lacrosse contest between Boston College and SUNY-Buffalo. The regular season for the BC men’s lacrosse team concluded with perfection—eleven games consecutively won in a span of four months—some in dominating fashion, others narrowly won by the skin of their teeth.
BC alumni Welles Remy Crowther was honored April 28, a tradition that now runs concurrent with the lacrosse team’s endeavors. Earlier in the year, junior defenseman Gavin Tisdale was honored with the No. 19 jersey—Welles’ number while playing lacrosse at BC.
Welles became a symbol of inspiration and compassion when he selflessly rescued others trapped in the South Tower of the World Trade Center before losing his own life on 9/11. That day, the team chanted Welles’ name in the post-game huddle in honor of his legacy.
The game marked the first perfect regular season in BC men’s lacrosse history. Rightfully so, the air was jubilant and celebratory.
Players had begun to form a group at the near sideline, posing for a picture in lieu of the regular season’s conclusion. Celebration was abundant as families greeted their kids with warm expressions and words of congratulations.
A picture-perfect New England afternoon was topped off by a team managing perfection, a much-desired feat in a world of sports often riddled with struggle and adversity. But sweeping every opponent in one season was not the only memorable moment to grace that special day.
Two onlookers, proudly donning hats with the image of a red bandanna embroidered on the front, smiled and applauded the players when they approached the stands. They had no player to greet or shower with praise, but that did not seem to bother them.
Joyous in tone, the two spectators gave their own voice of approval. One of them, a middle-aged man beaming with joy, yelled, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, ELEVEN!” Referring to the number of victories the squad had amounted that year; he threw his hands in the air. The woman at his side snapped a picture of the team huddled together for the picture. Their happiness was evident.
That couple was Alison and Jeff Crowther, the proud parents of the Sandler O'Neill equities trader that saved many lives on that dreadful September day.
And even though their son is no longer living, they take great comfort in knowing he is looking on from above.
Donning apparel laced with the iconic red bandanna—a symbol representative of Welles’ exemplary courage and spirit—the two were grateful to have a strong community like Boston College to share the story and spirit of their fallen son.
“It means so much that the lacrosse team is raising money and support for the trust we created in Welles’ name,” said Alison. “Welles loved being at Boston College, he really reveled in his years here and became the man we all loved.”
Jeff interjected, saying that it was always Welles’ dream to donate a chair in the Economics Department and have it named after him. He wanted to succeed in life, but what he wanted even more was to give back to the community he loved so much.
“For us, it’s such an honor to come back here,” said Jeff. “Most of us in our lives, the legacy we leave are the children we have. Our son’s legacy is what he did in that last hour of his life—the lives that he saved and families he impacted by saving them by being a man for others. That’s a legacy.”
Both of the Crowthers pointed to Boston College as the accelerator of growth and wisdom for Welles, the place where he blossomed and matured.
Jeff exclaimed, “This university is incredible, you know, he went off a kid and he came home a real man. A man for others.”
Jeff and Alison were elated to have the university assist in their efforts to expand the trust created in Welles’ name. They said it was only fitting that the university helped in developing the cause.
“Am I proud of my son? You know I am,” said Jeff. “But what I am even more proud to see is how his life impacted others.”
After the post-game jubilation had worn away, spectators began to file out of Alumni.
The Crowthers began to gather their things and started to exit the stands when Alison stopped and remarked what moved them the most—beyond the university’s endearing support and the outpouring of love shown by the BC community.
“Having an undefeated season is phenomenal—really—but even more so, it’s the camaraderie and excitement and team spirit that they showed that really warmed us,” she said. “That’s what Welles really loved about being on a team. That’s what he always told us. That is his spirit.”
I have never met Welles and will never have the opportunity to do so in my lifetime, but I do know that somewhere he was nodding his head in approval of his mother’s words.
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