PARSIPPANY _ While growing up in Flemington, Jennifer Ladas had very little involvement in sports.
However, once she became a mother, Ladas benefited from "three personal trainers" - her sons, Athan, Luke and Zachary.
The three boys, ages 7, 6 and 4, keep Ladas on the run in the family's backyard in Parsippany. On any given day, Ladas, also mother to a 10-month-old daughter, takes part in spirited, high-energy games of soccer, football or hockey.
In the summer of 2012, Ladas, now well-versed in athletics, took to the field for the Bizzie Bowl III Flag Football Tournament at Smith Field and wound up helping her team, the Lady Giants, to the women's championship with a 6-0 victory over Team Allen.
Ladas scored the lone touchdown after catching a pass from quarterback Kim Finnie as thunder rumbled in the sky and the rain became heavier.
"The bad weather may have helped me out," Ladas said. "It got very sloppy out there. It had become tough to grab the flags. I got past a few girls and scored."
It wasn't only a feel-good event for Ladas and her teammates, who left the field champions. The five-on-five tournament had a much deeper meaning.
Named for Elizabeth "Bizzie" Stein, the tournament raised funds for the Schlegel and Ries families of Parsippany. A member of each family is battling brain cancer. Bizzie Stein was 3 years old when she died on Jan. 15, 2011 from a brain tumor.
"I know the Stein family and I'm a member of their Moms Club," Ladas said. "We entered because my husband has been in the tournament for a few years. There was tough competition. We had to play Team Allen twice. They were very good. We had a lot of fun and it was for a great cause."
Erica Allen, who put together Team Allen, has taken part in the Bizzie Bowl since its inception. Allen, unlike Ladas, spent much time in uniform while at Randolph High School, where she was a member of the softball, tennis, soccer and swim teams.
"Sarah Doran, our captain in previous years, got me involved because her brother had a brain tumor," said Allen, a business analyst for Philadelphia Financial Services. "It's great to play for those who need help with medical costs. It's a really good cause. I enjoyed playing."
Allen, involved in Jersey Club Sports, served as quarterback for her squad. She and her teammates hoped to defend their title but fell short.
For Ladas, the victory was sweet. She did a charitable deed while showing off skills she gained from all of those hours spent in the yard with her children.
Besides Ladas and Finnie, other members of the Lady Giants were Kelsey VanderGroef, Stephanie Chiu, Jennifer Chung, Cindy Kratsch and Marcy Salvatore.
"It was so special for me to play in a tournament named after the forever feisty and inspirational Bizzie Stein!" Ladas said.
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