Lacrosse team picks up along city Rail Trail

In front of Nashua’s City Hall on Saturday morning, a group of men carved huge ice sculptures for that night’s Winter Holiday Stroll.

Meanwhile, behind City Hall, a motley group of lacrosse players, ranging in age from grade school to almost-grandparent, worked together to clean up the Rail Trail.

The Rusty Bones lacrosse team, a local group of 30-and-older men who play recreational lacrosse, was looking for a volunteer project that nobody else wanted, according to the group’s president, Scott McKenzie.

McKenzie said the idea to clean up the trail began when he was talking to newly elected state representative and Alderman-at-Large Paula Johnson.

She saw my jacket and said, ‘Oh, you play for a lacrosse team,’ and I said, ‘It’s really more than just a lacrosse team,’ ” McKenzie said

McKenzie explained that ever since the group was founded almost two years ago, players have made it a priority to give back to the community.

“Paula said the city is always looking for help, and then we were contacted by the Parks and Recreation commission,” McKenzie said.

The team members told Parks and Recreation they “wanted the job that no one else wants,” according to McKenzie. He said, “We were ready for anything. They said we could clean the Rail Trail.”

McKenzie, of Nashua, said he had never heard of the trail, a paved walkway that runs from City Hall to Simon Street.

About a dozen Rusty Bones players and almost as many players from their youth team, the Bone Spurs, gathered trash by the bagful Saturday morning and stacked the trash bags on street corners up and down the trail.

“That little one’s tuckered out,” McKenzie said as he pointed to a young boy who trudged by carrying a bag of trash almost bigger than him.

Some of the volunteers said the strangest trash collected on the trail included bikes, basketball hoops, tires and unopened bottles of alcohol.

“This is the dirtiest job we’ve had, but it’s not the last,” McKenzie said.

Bone Spurs member Joey Gallagher, 13, said he stumbled upon a boot while he was cleaning up. The Elm Street Junior High School eighth-grader said he came across a “hobo’s bed,” too.

“It feels good to help out the city,” Gallagher said. “I thought I’d pick up Coke cans, but it turned out to be telephone poles.”

Another Bone Spurs player, Dean Zimmerman, 13, said he enjoyed helping out on Saturday because he got to spend time with his teammates.

The Rusty Bones crew has been responsible for other not-so-random acts of kindness since their creation, too.

“We were approached by a single parent; she didn’t have any money and she wanted to know how she could get her boy to play lacrosse,” McKenzie said.

“He had good grades. We paid the registration fee and bought all new equipment so he could play. It made everyone on the team feel good.”

The group also collected groceries and turkeys recently for the Nashua Soup Kitchen.

McKenzie said the team’s formation was the result of an “accidental idea.” McKenzie played lacrosse as a student at Boston College, and he began reminiscing about playing again when he started coaching at a lacrosse camp.

He began playing with the Nashua Parks and Recreation League and formed Rusty Bones with other 30-and-older guys who were interested. Rusty Bones has members from all over the Nashua area, as well as from Portsmouth down to Tyngsborough, Mass.

After Rusty Bones got together, the Olde New England Lacrosse League was created and there are now six over-30 lacrosse teams across the region.

McKenzie said the players, who come from almost every walk of life, are brought together by more than the love of lacrosse.

“They are more than just guys who like to drink beer and play lacrosse,” McKenzie said. “They love to do things for the community.”