October 30, 2011

Hall of Fame Class of 2011: In Their Own Words

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Bruce Allison, credited with creating the NCAA lacrosse playoff system, said he envisions a future tournament featuring teams from all 50 states. "Who knows? Why not?" he said.
© John Strohacker/LaxPhotos.com

HUNT VALLEY, Md. -- They shared some common threads in their induction speeches, thanking family, past teams, and expressing a general joy for the game of lacrosse. But each inductee -- or, in one case, the person accepting on behalf of one -- to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Saturday night brought a unique story to share before an audience including family, friends and other Hall of Famers at The Grand Lodge in Baltimore County.

Here are excerpts of the stories told by the seven members of the Class of 2011.

Bruce Allison

Inducted as a truly great contributor and credited with developing and implementing the NCAA lacrosse playoff system in 1971. The former Marine was also head coach for Union College (1957-76) and the Colorado School of Mines (1976-93).

"There are so many reasons for me to be thankful and grateful for: Growing up in the village of Penn Yan, N.Y., a father who taught me great work ethic and how to hunt and fish. My mother, a very devoted lady and a fabulous cook. My grandparents lived nearby and supported me in many ways. My brother, five years older than me, set great standards for me throughout his high school career, and heartfelt thanks for his safe return from POW camp after World War II.

"I've had 58 years happily married to the light of my life, Ann. She has endured 37 years of sitting out in bleachers, watching lacrosse games and hosting team picnics.

"There is special group of people to who I owe an everlasting thanks to for exposing me to this great game: the People of the Longhouse, the Haudenosaunee, the Iroquois Confederacy, epitomized by my good friend Oren Lyons, chief of the Onondaga Nation. We competed against each other for a period of 10 years.

"I am pleased that I was able to be a small part of the growth of the game. Perhaps 10 years from now, we will have an NCAA championship composed of teams from all 50 states. Who knows? Why not?"

Traci Davis

The former All-American in lacrosse and field hockey at Ursinus was a mamber of the U.S. World Cup team (1985) and also a fixture in the club women's circuit. She is now the athletic director and girls' coach at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Md.

"I was very lucky that I was able to play the sports that I loved in the time that I did. To this day, I can't recall wins and losses, but I remember trips that I've made the team and the friends that I've made along the way. I was able to play for the love of the game. This was all pre-NCAA for women's sports. Our schedules weren't as packed as they are now with club teams and programs. There was no money. We washed our own uniforms and gave them back at the end of the season. We didn't expect anything and we worked hard for everything.

"My brother Billy and I used to make up all sorts of backyard lacrosse games. In one, Billy would throw straight at my head and I'd have to duck to catch. I learned several things, 1) how to throw with solid precision so I could get him back, 2) how to catch just about everything and, 3) to duck when all else failed.

"Back in the mid-80s, I was a little bit crazy. I actually quit my job teaching because I wanted to do triathlons professionally. I was mildly successful and fortunate enough to even win a couple races. But my grandfather used to tell a story to his golfing buddies, that I was pulled over by the police for speeding on my bicycle. He got a little confused. It was actually a race where I was in the lead and had a motorcycle escort. I really never wanted to correct him.

"I really hope that young people today can look back on lacrosse and get the sense of community that I've been lucky enough to be a part of. It is a wonderful group of people."

David Huntley

Canadian native Dave Huntley shared thoughts on lacrosse players who have served in the U.S. military, such as Jimmy Regan and Brendan Looney, "who gave their lives to protect our safety and freedom," Huntley said.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

The winner of the 1979 MacLaughlin Award as the nation's top midfielder is the fifth Canadian inducted into the Hall of Fame. He helped Johns Hopkins win two NCAA titles in 1978 and '79, and helped Canada win the 1978 World Championship.

"Given the weather here tonight [snowy and wind], I'm sure many of you are blaming Canadians. It's understandable. It's misguided, but it's understandable. The true culprit is my fellow inductee Bruce Allison, who is from upstate New York. With the exception of the 23 day summer, it's pretty rough weather there.

"To all my Hopkins teammates and coaches, thank you for sharing this with me. It's a great day to be a Blue Jay. It's always a great day to be a Blue Jay. I know the short shorts, the long hair, the bad bodies and poor stick work, certainly by today's standards, did not put any of us in a great light, but I think our record and our titles speak to our competitive spirit forever.

"The longest tradition at Johns Hopkins lacrosse is when we pay tribute to the war dead. Two flags with gold stars are attached to goals before the first home game. As captain, I was honored to be able to attach one of those flags my senior year. It's always been one of my great memories. I bring this up because this [year] is the 10th anniversary [of the 9/11 terrorist attacks]. When I was getting my talk ready, I was watching ESPN at the same time and there was piece on the 9/11 attacks called 'The Man in the Red Bandana' and I started to shake a little bit because I thought about Eamon McEneaney who was the great Cornell attackman and our major nemesis. No doubt, as he did in 1993, like Welles Crowther the Boston College player, helping others to safety. It caused me to reflect on the courage of other young men, like Jimmy Regan of Duke, Brendan Looney of Navy, who recently gave their lives to protect our safety and freedom and opportunity to play lacrosse."

Suzanne Honeysett McKinny

McKinny, who spent 35 years umpiring at the high school level, 30 years collegiately and 20 years at the international level and served on the Philadelphia Umpiring Board, was inducted posthumously. She also played for the U.S. women's national team from 1965-72. Her friend, Alison Hersey Risch, accepted the Hall of Fame plaque on McKinny's behalf, and here's what Risch said:

"I cannot express the love and admiration all of us in the lacrosse world for my dear friend and teammate.

"Understand that this was phenomenal person. She was a great friend of mine; she was a very respected, dependable teammate on the U.S. team. I also remember she was my No. 1 opponent when Boston played Philadelphia. Suzie and I were inevitably direct opponents."

John "Jake" Lawlor

The Floral Park, N.Y., native won the Schmeisser Award as the nation's best defenseman as a senior at Navy in 1975. He was a two-time first-team All-American and started for the Midshipmen as a freshman.

"I'm a product of many people, but the person that had the greatest impact on me as a player and person was a lacrosse coach, Marine and patriot, Jim Condon from Mineola on Long Island. We lost 3-2 in double overtime in an away game, and Jim thought we underperformed. When we got back to our school, we had to run 85 100-yard wind sprints. Every time we sprinted, he said, 'Finish first' and he blew the whistle. The only thing he said afterward was, 'Next time do your best.' I have used that philosophy in everything I have done until this day, and I will follow that philosophy to my grave.

"What makes Navy really special is our core values. I got your back is not just a defensive slide, it's a lifetime commitment. We have to play and serve with people that we trust, and there's no greater experience.

"I never knew Brendan Looney, the Navy SEAL who was killed, but I know how he was built.

"I had a toothache in New York and went to see the dentist; I didn't know who he was. I'm sitting there and he's asking a lot of questions. Right before he put the anesthesia on me he said 'You're Jake Lawlor. You played at Navy.' I said yes. He said, 'Well, I played at Hopkins and you were a real pain in the neck.' What ended up happening is he pulled the wrong tooth. So, I don't know if that was his skills or because he's a rival, but I do know that that's the only way a Hopkins guy is ever going to get a piece of me.

"Before I wrap up, I'd also like to thank the attackmen that I covered, because if they didn't graciously allow me to take the ball away from them, I don't think I would be here tonight."

Sandra Lanahan Zvosec was presented for induction by her mother, Priscilla. "She was at every game," Zvosec said. "She let me know that I could accomplish anything."
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Sandra Lanahan Zvosec

She was captain, All-American her senior year at Maryland, when the Terps won the national title in 1981. Zvosec played for Team USA from 1980-1987, was captain of the U.S. World Cup team in 1986, and later coached at Loyola College.

"Little did I know when I picked up that stick in ninth grade, because I had to in gym class, that I would be here. I was a basketball player and thought that's what I would do in college.

"As with most people, there is that one person who makes such a tremendous impact on their life. I'm truly blessed to have that one person here with me tonight, and that's my mom. She was at every game, whether I was player or a coach. She let me know that I could accomplish anything and she was standing beside me all the way.

"I kind of have stepped outside the world of lacrosse and for the past 20 years have been a wife and a mother. I've lived a fairly nomadic life due to my husband's career. When the Hall of Fame letter came, I was sending my youngest off to college and I was thinking 'Where do you go from here?' Getting that letter reminded me that there was life before children, and there is life after children."

Jon Reese

The best player in Yale history set the NCAA single-season record in 1990 with 82 goals as a midfielder. He won the MacLaughlin Award that year. He also led Yale to three Ivy League championships and still holds the Yale record for career goals (162) and points (200).

"Those of you who know me, probably have never heard me say 'I'm nervous.' I am tonight. That really speaks to how important this is to me, to work so hard for so long and be recognized.

"Lacrosse has been in my family since the day I was born. My father, Walter Reese, played at Sewanhaka on Long Island, went to Syracuse and played for Roy Simmons Sr., then came back and started lacrosse at Copiague High School. He used the field to teach a lot of young men what life was all about. My mother, Marian, was the toughest in the family. She signed a release so I could play in a game in high school with a broken jaw wired shut.

"My mother kept eight boxes of stuff from when I played college football and lacrosse. I never went through it. Maybe 20 years was a good time to wait, because when I went through the boxes, it was very emotional for me. For the first time, I allowed myself to sit and be proud of how hard I worked. There were some neat things in those boxes.

"What I like to share with young people now is I lost every big game I've ever played in, in lacrosse and football. I felt a lot of pain, but I was the last person to leave the field. What that told me then and now is I worked my butt off. I gave everything I had. I say there's two feelings of pain: regret and heartache. The pain of regret is something that I hope you never feel again after tonight's contest. But the pain of heartache is one of the best things in life. You're feeling a loss, because you've given it everything that you've got. That's the story I'd like to pass on when I get the chance."

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