The football coaches at ASA College in Brooklyn not only care about how they represent the Avengers with on-field success, but also how they embody the program off the field as well.
Whether it's head coach Joe Osovet's work with local schools, coaches, and budding student-athletes, or former offensive coordinator Greg Lauri's off-field charitable work, ASA has been a proud supporter of multiple worthy causes. Wide receivers coach Ken Merchant is no different.
The Avengers' first-year position coach has doled out time and effort for a cause he holds dear to his heart. Lauren's First and Goal is a non-profit organization that was started in 2004 by John and Marianne Loose in honor of their 20-year old daughter, Lauren, a pediatric brain tumor survivor. Since its inception, LFG has raised more than $2 million toward its mission to provide financial support for brain tumor research and cancer services, financial and emotional support to families living with pediatric cancer, and to increase awareness of the disease.
Merchant, who noted that he met John Loose a few years ago and has enjoyed a close friendship over the years, said the choice was easy when asked to dive in and help this cause – even when it means personally footing the travel expenses to get to Ohio by any means necessary.
"I met him a few years ago and he has proven to be not only a good friend, but a good man, so extending myself to volunteer was a no-brainer," he said, explaining the effort it takes to volunteer for one day, but also be able to get back to Brooklyn for his coaching duties the next. "In order to get out to Ohio, I had to take a bus that left 9 p.m. Saturday night and arrived at 6:30 a.m. Sunday to start working the camp at 8 a.m. Then I left last night [Sunday] to be back in the office by this morning [Monday]."
Last weekend's football camp was held at Otterbein University and hosted over 60 football coaches, through Loose's connections as a coach himself. The safeties coach at Army West Point, Coach Loose has held the camp for eight-straight years at Otterbein and also recently held its 14th annual gathering at Lafayette.
Merchant, who is earnestly trying to "create more awareness for this camp and this cause," noted that the foundation sends all proceeds to pediatric brain tumor research and cancer services.
"Between the two camps and outside donations, the foundation has raised over $140,000 so far this year alone," Merchant said. "And since the inception, they raised $2 million and have provided almost $1.8 million in grants."