The First Stick Program is inspired by the life journey and experiences of founders Paul Meyer, Peter Gibson, and Lou Delligatti, who where teammates and friends at Oceanside High School. Grateful for the way sports shaped and redirected their lives in positive ways, they decided to start the First Stick Program to provide opportunities for young people today to receive similar benefits. The founders share a common spirit of gratitude and commitment to offering destiny changing opportunities to others.
The founder’s are deeply connected to one another due the positive role that sports played in their personal development. Gibson, Delligatti, and Meyer all played football at Oceanside under legendary head coach Roy Kessenich, the father of ESPN’s top lacrosse announcer Quint Kessenich. Coach Kessenich provided a safe, encouraging support system and reliable mentoring for Paul, Peter, Lou, and many others as they journeyed from adolescence to manhood.
Paul Meyer grew up in difficult circumstances of addiction, abuse, and instability. By age 15, he was living on his own while attending Oceanside High School. At Oceanside, he was introduced to the game of lacrosse, the positive benefits of the high school athletic community, and the Martin Bernstein family, who adopted Paul during his junior year in high school.
Coach Kessenich personally took Paul under his wing when he arrived alone at Oceanside High School, and encouraged him to join the athletic community, where he played football and lacrosse. As teammates and through athletic competition, Paul, Peter, and Lou discovered they could achieve their personal goals, and learned about commitment, character, and community.
Through lacrosse, Meyer was also introduced to the Bernstein family by team mate and friend Scott Bernstein. The Bernstein family and its patriarch, Martin B. Bernstein, embodied the spirit of generosity and compassion. They took Paul in and made him part of their family. Now a successful businessman, husband and father, Paul lives in Georgia. He coaches lacrosse at Greenbrier High School, a program he helped start, and participates in the local YMCA lacrosse program.
Throughout his difficult childhood, Paul never lost a sense of hope. He experienced and believed that there were good people everywhere who looked out for him and helped to guide him. Paul promised himself that the moments of kindness in his difficult life would inspire a lifestyle of giving back.
Peter Gibson played football, baseball and basketball at Oceanside High School. He was the quarterback for Kessenich's county championship team in 1977. Gibson is now a successful businessman and beloved father, working to help develop the Rutgers University student-athlete Life Skills program. In addition, he is active in other charities, including the Trenton Boys and Girls Club and Catholic Charities of New Jersey. He also coaches his son's lacrosse team.
Lou Delligatti was a two-sport athlete in high school, where he excelled in lacrosse. He played collegiate lacrosse for Towson State University and followed with 10 years as a professional indoor lacrosse player and teammate of Steve Stenersen, president and CEO of US Lacrosse. Delligatti currently resides in Augusta, Georgia and serves as the regional sales manager for SignCo. He continues to maintain close ties with the Meyer family.
Make a Gift Today
You may make a gift to the First Stick Program by clicking the "Donate" button. Your gift will support current donations of equipment to players and teams, as well as skill-building player clinics and continued training for coaches after the introductory equipment donation.