February 14, 2007, - 10:55 am
By Debbie Schlussel
With all of the unfair, negative attention brought on three Duke Lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, another Duke Lacrosse player–Sgt. James John Regan–and his story got lost.
Regan was a star on the Duke Lacrosse Team and had a scholarship to go to law school and an offer to work at a financial company. But he felt he had a higher calling. He joined the Army Rangers. He served double tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq, earning a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and several other medals.
He was killed in action in Iraq, last week. He was 26 and engaged to be married. His fiancee, Mary McHugh told Newsday why he felt it was imperative to join the Army and serve rather than taking one of the other safer, more lucrative offers:
He said, ‘If I don’t do it, then who will do it?’ He recognized it as an option and he couldn’t not do it.”
Jimmy went from his Long Island roots to Duke as a determined athlete and student.
“Just a terrific personality. Always a smile on his face. His teammates just loved to be around him,” his coach, Mike Pressler, said over the phone Monday. “He was the kind of kid that every coach in America would be proud to call his own. I can’t imagine a better teammate or a better friend.”
By the spring of 2002, Jimmy was a senior and close to graduating with a degree in economics. He was on the all-ACC Academic team as a midfielder. In the conference championship game, against No. 1 Virginia, he scored four goals and the Blue Devils won 14-13. Pressler still remembers how the press flocked around him afterward. How happy Jimmy was. The star of the game. The hero.
“It was just his day in the sun,” Pressler said. “I’m sure it was something he never forgot.”
Jimmy had a scholarship to go to law school after Duke. Also an offer to work at a financial company. “But he felt like he had a higher calling,” Pressler said.
Jimmy joined the Army Rangers. Later, he figured, he’d come back to his life. One day, he would coach a lacrosse team, and help kids find the happiness he had that spring day against Virginia. So he left Duke behind, just as the class of 2006 – when the world caved in the Blue Devil lacrosse team – was entering.
Sgt. James John Regan, Rest In Peace.
Tags: Afghanistan, America, Army, coach, coach a lacrosse team, Debbie Schlussel, determined athlete, Duke Lacrosse, Iraq, James John Regan, Jimmy, lacrosse, law school, Mary McHugh, midfielder, Mike Lopresti, Mike Pressler, Newsday, player, Sergeant, sports columnist, The star, USA Today, Virginia