Rivals join forces in ‘Bars for Ben’

PV soccer pitches in to help Ramapo player afflicted with carcinoma


Curstine Guevarra

PV soccer goalkeeper Josh Ulin participated in Bars for Ben to help raise money for Ben Landel, a Ramapo soccer player battling cancer.

The Bergen County soccer scene is tight-knit. Coaches know each other very well, and, according to PV boys soccer coach Roy Nygren, “Everyone looks to help and support one another.”

This has been evident recently, as teams from across the county have rallied to help raise awareness and donations for Ramapo High School senior Ben Landel. In late May, Landel, who plays soccer and runs track, was diagnosed with carcinoma after he had trouble breathing while running.

To help raise awareness, family and friends of Landel created the idea of “Bars for Ben,” a challenge where one tries to hit the crossbar from the 18 yards out with a soccer ball.

Pascack Valley was one of about 25 soccer teams that participated in Bars for Ben. Each team took a video of its crossbar challenge and uploaded it to YouTube. The trend gained attention quickly on Twitter with the hashtag #Bars4Ben, and even American soccer star Carli Lloyd mentioned the cause on her twitter account.

The videos are compiled in a playlist which is linked from a GoFundMe page that was created for Landel. It has raised over $37,000 in the span of a month.

“Ben loved the videos more so than the financial support,” said Ramapo head soccer coach Evan Baumgarten, who added that he enjoys the videos as well.

PV goalkeeper Josh Ulin echoed Nygren’s thoughts about the close-knit Bergen County soccer scene and explained that, although the teams are rivals, Pascack Valley and Ramapo will always help and support each other in times of need.

“We know they’d do the same for us,” Ulin said.

“True rivalries are not based on hate, but on respect.” Nygren added.

Pascack Valley and the other schools who participated in the challenge have shown that rivals can still help each other out. How you act off the field is much more important than how you act on it.

“It’s the beauty of sport.” said Nygren.

Pascack Valley Boys Soccer