PYA Honors A Military And Lacrosse Veteran


Port Washington Youth Activities (PYA) kicked off June with their annual Harvey Cohen Lacrosse Tournament. Being their biggest event, they hosted over sixty teams, both boys and girls, from across the Island.

“Everything went great,” said Chris Avasis, a member of PYA’s board of directors. “We got funding for our facilities and scholarships, and best of all, the kids had a blast.”

And while lacrosse might’ve been the focus, it’s hard for anyone to forget who the tournament was for. In 2016, the passing of Harvey Cohen, an active member of the Port Washington community, saddened both parents and athletes alike. Remembered for his extreme devotion to the PYA program, as well as his infamous bullhorn, Cohen showed a passion for helping the youth like no other. Thus, many of his friends, family, and even those he had once coached volunteered at the event so that his legacy could continue to run smoothly.

Harvey Cohen (Photo from Chris Avasis)

“I mean, this weekend was the perfect way to honor an American hero,” said Avasis as he spoke about his friend. “This guy was the real deal, a serious inspiration.”

Cohen started his impressive career at the New York Military Academy and went on to play lacrosse at Lafayette College. He would later coach at Harvard University, where he also earned his graduate degree in law.

But in between then, Cohen gave the ultimate sacrifice. As a pilot for the United States Army Air Corps, he participated in multiple military campaigns, and most notably, flew during the Allied invasion of Normandy, or D-Day. It was this bravery and expertise that would earn him his Captain’s distinction, which stood as one of the many testaments to his greatness.

Cohen continued to serve others until his early nineties while the organizations he helped found remain active to this day. For instance, the P.A.L. Long Island Lacrosse League has become one the largest youth leagues in the country and, in part, contributed to his receiving the sport’s ultimate honor: The Keeper of Lacrosse Award. But it wasn’t just lacrosse Cohen was interested in. Among his numerous presidencies, Cohen led the Unitarian Universalist Society, as well as the Nassau County Mental Health Association.

Clearly, this was a man who lived to give back and, for that reason, he should be a role model for us all.

PYA is a local non-profit that runs sports programs for the youth. Whether it’s wrestling or softball, there’s always something exciting for your kid to get into. For more information, visit or check out their Facebook, Port Youth Activities.


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