The Colorado Mammoth and the Littleton Police Department came together on Jan. 31 to help improve a young student-athlete’s unfortunate situation.
On a cold, snowy night in January, Travis Hastings, a senior lacrosse player at Englewood High School, had his car broken into and his lacrosse gear stolen. The next morning, when he went to warm up his car, he noticed his lacrosse bag was missing. Thinking he put the bag inside, he checked around his house, but unfortunately, the equipment — valued at about $1,100 — was just gone.
“It was pretty crushing,” said Tom Hastings, Travis’ father and a teacher at Englewood High School. “We were getting ready to come into the school and Travis was just at a loss and felt really bad about that. It was pretty upsetting.”
Travis had to play in one of his winter league games the following weekend, and had to use borrowed equipment. He commented about how strange it felt to play in the borrowed gear, and how awful he played as a result.
“It just felt weird,” Travis said. “I was wearing my brother’s soccer cleats.”
Officer Andy Barnard of the Littleton Police Department was the officer who responded to the incident. During Officer Barnard’s investigation, he learned about how much Travis loved playing lacrosse and how much he loved the Mammoth. He also learned that Travis had just committed to play for Augustana College, something that this unfortunate event was surely going to dampen the joy of.
So Officer Barnard jumped into action, and used some connections from his previous career to start the ball rolling on helping Travis out of the bad situation.
“Fortunately, I was on Altitude TV three years ago with the Avalanche,” Officer Barnard said. “I don’t really have contacts with the Mammoth side, more so the Avalanche. I just reached out to the Mammoth and they replied instantly and they were onboard with it, which was awesome.”
The Mammoth were more than happy to help, and the organization, along with former player John Grant Jr., helped to purchase a new bag, shafts, a stick, gloves, set of pads, a helmet and cleats.
“As a professional athlete, we do our daily grind of trying to prepare for games week in and week out,” said defenseman Dan Coates. “To be able to do this and to take a step back and see how much this means to Travis and the game itself, it means everything.”
Meanwhile, the Littleton Police Department worked together with Englewood High School and Mr. Hastings to surprise Travis at school on Jan. 31. Everything was set into motion.
But the story had another happy twist. Just two days before the surprise for Travis, the Littleton Police Department found Travis’ old gear bag with all of the gear left inside, and Officer Barnard was able to personally deliver the equipment back to Travis the night before. He told the Mammoth about it, but the team decided to go forward with the surprise anyways.
So, on a cold Wednesday morning — right before Calculus class — Travis was pulled away from class under the impression he was going to discuss something about the lacrosse team with the Athletics Director. Instead, he walked into a room to meet Officer Barnard, Coates and Mammoth captain Brad Self.
The surprise rendered Travis speechless. He beamed with joy as he shook hands with Self and Coates and got a chance to look at the equipment the team had donated. Just a day after getting all of his gear back, he now found himself with a second set courtesy of the dedication of Officer Barnard to ensuring he could continue pursuing his passion.
“It’s amazing,” Travis said. “That’s not something he had to do at all. I’m speechless for what he for me. It’s amazing. And with the Mammoth reaching out, it only speaks to how close the lacrosse community is.”
Now, with two sets of gear, Travis has decided to pay it forward.
“I can definitely use a lot of the stuff to help outfit the players coming in, like ‘hey, you want to try lacrosse? I have all the stuff you can try on,’” Travis said. “Or, at practices, if we have a player a player forgets something, I’ll say ‘hey, you can use this.’ So I can really use this to help benefit my team.”
Meanwhile, the Mammoth move forward knowing that they’ve helped a young student athlete not just continue to do what he loves, but also turn him into a mentor as he uses the equipment to help players on his own team.
“It’s great for us to be able to help out whenever we can,” said Self. “I know for me, growing up, I was always using hand-me-downs, and I was always looking for other gear. So, to be able to get him some gear after what happened to be able to use, and especially after meeting him and his family and seeing what great people they are, it’s nice to be able to put a smile on someone’s face and allow them to be able to continue doing what they do.”