Handley's lacrosse club pays tribute to fallen teammate

6270279e8772f.imageWINCHESTER — Seventeen-year-old David Alexander III was a standout lacrosse player who most certainly would have shined at the collegiate level.

But he died on Oct. 27, about a year after being diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer called chondroblastic osteosarcoma that destroys bone and replaces it with cartilage.

His diagnosis on Oct. 2, 2020, and his subsequent battle with the disease became well known in the Winchester area after he decided in January 2021 to stop treatment. He made that choice after enduring chemotherapy for 10 weeks and discovering the process had been ineffective. If he wanted to try chemo again, doctors would have had to remove his left leg and portions of his left hip and lower spine, a procedure that would have left him permanently disabled and could have caused paralysis.

"In my eyes, there really was not a lot of promise," David told The Winchester Star in a May 2021 interview. "I'm happy with the decision I made."

David, a junior at James Wood High School who played on Handley High School's regional lacrosse club, had to stop playing lacrosse after being diagnosed. But the teen was such a valuable member of the squad, his coaches made him an assistant coach and involved him in practices and games as much as possible for as long as possible.

Even today, David is still very much a part of Handley's lacrosse club. On a recent Saturday, when the team celebrated Senior Day during the first of its two home games this season, they included David in the celebration.

"Everybody on the team had Alexander written on the back of their jerseys," said Leigh Phillips, the wife of Handley lacrosse coach Steven Phillips.

A Senior Day tradition that was observed during the game featured all of the seniors on the team walking onto the field with their parents or guardians. Leigh Phillips said David's parents, Bryan and Jacqueline Alexander, along with his sister, Aubree Alexander, walked across the field holding David's No. 11 jersey.

"David will live on forever in our hearts as we attempt to emulate the enthusiasm and passion that he showed each of us every day, not only on the field, but with anyone lucky enough to be in his presence," an announcer said over the loudspeakers. "He and his hugs will be forever missed."

"And we retired his jersey number," Phillips said. "It was very special."

In memory of their former teammate and coach, the Handley lacrosse club went on to beat the Muddogs of Harrisonburg 8-6 in a nonconference game.

"This [David's passing] has brought the team really close together," Phillips said. "Last year we had him on the sidelines as a coach and his presence was felt. His absence is felt even more. ... We feel like a big family now."

Also on Senior Day, the players and coaches posed for a team photo at the Handley Bowl. Two of the players held Alexander's jersey front and center.

"He was such a special kid," Phillips said. "He had a tremendous affect on us all, for sure."

 
 

— Contact Brian Brehm at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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