October 22, 2012

Adams, Amonte, Foote, Timchal Form Elite Hall of Fame Class

by Paul Ohanian | LaxMagazine.com | HOF Men: Colsey, Dougherty, Hubbard, Nelson Go In

Jen Adams, the first winner of the Tewaaraton Award, was surprised by her mother Saturday night at the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

HUNT VALLEY, Md. – One of the most impressive women's induction classes in the 55-year history of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame was formally welcomed during the 2012 induction ceremony Saturday evening at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley.

Collectively, the class of Jen Adams, Kelly Amonte Hiller, Missy Foote and Cindy Timchal has amassed over 1,000 college coaching victories and won 26 NCAA national championships as either players or coaches, while transforming the game of women's lacrosse over the past 25 years.

Each of the four inductees was introduced by a short video that summarized many of their career highlights and included comments from a presenter. Following that introduction, each inductee had the opportunity to address the gathering of current Hall of Fame members and several hundred additional friends, family and lacrosse supporters who gathered for the black-tie optional celebration, sponsored by Bollinger Insurance and the Markel Insurance Company.

Jen Adams, who led the University of Maryland to four straight national championships from 1998-2001, was inducted as a truly great player. A native of Brighton, South Australia, her impact on the game was instant and impressive upon arriving in College Park. Adams became a three-time first team All-American and was a three-time national player of the year award winner during her career.

She was introduced by her former teammate and friend Cathy Reese.

"She was that player that you just loved to watch," Reese said. "She made everything look so easy and she had so much fun doing what she did. She was somebody that you wanted to be around."

Adams concluded her college career as Maryland's all-time leader in goals, assists and points and became the first-ever winner of the Tewaaraton Award as a senior in 2001. She remained active as an international player over the past decade as a member of the Australian Women's National Team, and was named to the All-World Team in both 2005 and 2009.

Adding to the special flavor of the evening for Adams, her mother Janet provided a Hall of Fame-sized surprise by arriving from Australia just in time for the induction ceremony. Adams had no knowledge of her mother's last-minute decision to travel from Down Under and was caught completely by surprise when Janet greeted her in the lobby of the Grand Lodge.

She began her comments by telling the audience that they may notice her Australian accent fading out during her speech.

"When I get nervous, I start speaking American," Adams said. "And I'm very nervous right now, especially since my mom just flew in as a surprise."

The history of the Hall of Fame and the elite circle of great contributors that form its membership roll were not lost on Adams.

"Obviously, I know a lot of the names that have come through before me, and there's so much respect for those people as mentors of the game," said Adams, now the head coach at Loyola University Maryland. "Those people, in my eyes, are the lacrosse gurus. For me to be alongside them now is very, very humbling. Lacrosse, for me, has been and continues to be just the right fit."

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Kelly Amonte Hiller, who preceded Adams as a game-changing player at the University of Maryland and helped shape the beginnings of the Terrapins' dynasty, was inducted as a truly great player. Amonte Hiller was a four-time All-American for the Terps from 1993-96 and led Maryland to national championship victories in both 1995 and 1996. As a nod to her incredibly diverse abilities and overall game skills, she was recognized as the national defensive player of year in 1995 and the national offensive player of the year in 1996.

Fellow 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Cindy Timchal, who coached Amonte Hiller at Maryland, also served as her presenter.

"Kelly was all business on the practice field," Timchal said. "She wanted to do more than everybody else. One time, she asked me 'what else can I do?' and I said 'do you want to drive the bus? You're already doing it all.' It just showed how much she wanted to give to be successful."

Amonte Hiller, now in her 12th year as head coach at Northwestern, has moved from one dynasty to another, having led the Wildcats to the NCAA title in seven of the past eight years.

"This is really a culmination of all the great players that I've had the opportunity to play with and all the coaches I've had an opportunity to work with," Amonte Hiller said. "I came to the sport late in life (high school), but this sport is the greatest thing that happened to me."

Timchal, inducted as a truly great coach, was at the helm for all of Maryland's championships during the Amonte and Adams eras. After beginning her head coaching career at Northwestern in 1982, Timchal moved to Maryland in 1991 and began shaping Maryland's dominance. Never afraid of trying new things – like hiring men's game icon Gary Gait as an assistant coach - the Terps claimed eight national championships under Timchal's leadership, including seven straight from 1995-2001.

"This class is outrageous," Cindy Timchal said. "I'm so honored to be a part of this class and to be inducted with some of my players."
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

She was introduced by Missy Meharg, head coach for field hockey at the University of Maryland.

"Cindy is the epitome of being an innovator," Meharg said. "She is almost quirkily intellectual. She has confidence and has courage and is easy to laugh with and laugh at and it's OK, and in that way, I think that's what makes her a champion. She took the game to its limits at a very early time. She was just really unique."

Timchal, now in her seventh season as head coach at Navy, is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA women's lacrosse history, with a 412-108 career record in 30 seasons. She is also the only women's lacrosse coach to lead three different teams to the NCAA tournament, including her record 24th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012.

"On a personal level, this is an opportunity to be grateful to the game," Timchal said. "It's because of women's lacrosse that I've had the opportunity to reach out to young players, to coach at all different levels, and to coach at programs that had winning traditions and ones that were starting traditions."

The uniqueness of being inducted in the same Hall of Fame class with two of her former players was not lost on Timchal.

"This class is outrageous," Timchal said. "I'm so honored to be a part of this class and to be inducted with some of my players."

Foote, who has spent the past 31 seasons as head coach at Middlebury (Vt.) College, was also inducted as a truly great coach. With 376 wins in her career, her teams have won nearly 80 percent of their games during her tenure, including four perfect seasons. Foote has guided Middlebury to the NCAA Division III national championship five times, recorded seven conference championships, and made 14 straight trips to the NCAA national semifinals from 1994-2007.

She has been recognized as the IWLCA national coach of the year five times, and also served as an assistant coach with the U.S. Women's Developmental Team from 2005-09. In addition to her coaching duties, Foote also serves as senior woman administrator and associate athletics director at Middlebury.

Her husband, Richard Foote, served as her presenter.

"It's been a wonderful journey for me to be a fly on the wall of Missy's fabulous career," he said. "As she will tell you herself, winning is not her stated objective. Her direct objective is to bring together and have coalesce this group of young women into the gift that is being one team."

That was clearly evidenced by the strong turnout of supporters for Foote at the ceremony.

Approximately 30 former Middlebury players and assistant coaches were in attendance, with Foote spending much of the evening moving from one group photo request to another.

"I like to say to my players that 'we stand on the shoulders of those that came before us,'" Foote said. "So I'm now standing on the shoulders of my players who worked hard and followed the philosophy that I was trying to espouse. They really made this honor possible."

The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a program of US Lacrosse, was established in 1957 to honor men and women who by their deeds as players, coaches, officials and/or contributors, and by the example of their lives, personify the great contribution of lacrosse to our way of life. More than 370 lacrosse greats are honored in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, which is located with the Lacrosse Museum at US Lacrosse Headquarters in Baltimore.

Check back to LaxMagazine.com for a photo gallery from Saturday night's induction ceremony.

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