October 17, 2012

Hall of Fame Week: Colsey, Hubbard Are Professional Grade

by Joel Censer | LaxMagazine.com

Roy Colsey made his way from Yorktown, N.Y., to Syracuse and became an MLL mainstay in the league's early years.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

One of the greatest National Hall of Fame classes of all-time will be inducted this Saturday night at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md. The 2012 induction class is comprised of Jen Adams, Roy Colsey, Brian Dougherty, Missy Foote, Kelly Amonte Hiller, Jesse Hubbard, Tim Nelson and Cindy Timchal. Each will take their place among the game's greatest at a black-tie optional, US Lacrosse event. Tickets are available here for Saturday and a Friday golf outing.

Check back to LaxMagazine.com all this week as we celebrate the eight inductees.

Monday: The Immortals of Maryland | Tuesday: Middlebury, Foote Perfect Match

They grew up in different parts of the country, played different positions and suited up for stylistically opposed archrivals in college. But Roy Colsey and Jesse Hubbard share more in common than either would admit.

Colsey grew up in lacrosse-crazed Yorktown, N.Y., where he was part of two high school state championship teams. Like many of the offensive stars during the school's heyday in the 1980s and '90s, Colsey trekked four hours northwest to play that transition-friendly brand of Syracuse lacrosse.

Hubbard, meanwhile, was a city dweller. He could walk across the street to his high school at St. Albans in Washington D.C. After a brilliant prep career, Hubbard attended Princeton, where he teamed up with classmates Jon Hess and Chris Massey to form what some consider the best attack unit in college lacrosse history.

Whereas Colsey was best known for moving his feet — childhood friend, high school rival and college teammate Ric Beardsley said Colsey "could run around or over you" — Hubbard was renowned for setting them. Hubbard tormented goalies with a blistering shot he could fit into tiny crevices around the goal. Shot imitated art.

But both Colsey and Hubbard both had a knack for finding the back of the net. Both were winners who led teams to multiple NCAA championships. Both suited up for Team USA. Both had careers marked by longevity. Both were trailblazers who helped make Major League Lacrosse a viable professional league.

And both will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012.

Colsey grew up as a talented athlete who threw a couple no-hitters in Little League before picking up lacrosse. Motivated by being cut from the Yorktown freshman team as an eighth-grader, Colsey carved out a starting attack role on varsity as a sophomore. Modeling his game after Dom Fin (who was a year ahead at Yorktown and who also went on to an All-American career at Syracuse), Colsey evolved from crafty crease finisher to scoring midfielder. Named a high school All-American his junior and senior seasons, Colsey was the linchpin for Yorktown's 1991 state title squad.

Jesse Hubbard was likewise an MLL trailblazer after winning three national titles at Princeton in the late 1990s.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

"[His senior year] was the most dominating high school midfield performance I've ever seen," said ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra, Colsey's high school and college teammate.

Colsey immediately fit into coach Roy Simmons Jr.'s swagger-filled Syracuse squads. A rugged, alley-dodging workhorse, Colsey could bomb from the outside, scrap between the lines and wreak havoc in transition. He played angry. Simmons called him "a blue-collar kid playing a white-collar sport."

Colsey was a four-time All-American and the national midfielder of the year in 1995. Syracuse won NCAA championships in 1993 and 1995.

Hubbard starred all four years at St. Albans in a variety of roles: initiating from behind the goal, taking wings and even faceoffs. After following his older brother Andy to Princeton, Hubbard spent his first year at midfield. As a sophomore, he moved to attack, where his off-ball brilliance perfectly complemented Massey's dodges and Hess's spot feeds.

The trio transformed a Tiger team known for defense and quick slides into an offensive juggernaut. More often than not, including in overtime of the 1996 NCAA championship game, Hubbard's pure stroke produced a devastating result.

"Every time we wrote in the scouting report, 'The goalie is strong stick-side high,' he'd go into a game and try to break down the goalie to his strength," former Princeton coach Bill Tierney said. "That's what made him great."

From 1996 to 1998, Hubbard led Princeton to a 43-2 record and three national titles. He twice earned first-team All-American honors.

Colsey and Hubbard's careers intersected in the pros. Each had successful stints playing box in the National Lacrosse League (NLL). In 2000, they were among 40 players selected to play in Major League Lacrosse's (MLL) "Summer Showcase," a series of exhibitions across the country that introduced fans to the 2-pointer, the shot clock and other distinctions of professional field lacrosse.

Because of his role as product manager at Warrior Lacrosse, Hubbard had a hands-on role in the league's creation. He designed jerseys, developed equipment, organized teams and was used by MLL co-founders Dave Morrow and Jake Steinfeld as a sounding board for new ideas and new rules.

"Playing was the easy part," Hubbard said.

* 2012 Hall of Fame Ceremony
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Colsey and Hubbard became MLL mainstays, reliable stars who helped establish the league's fan base. Colsey held the MLL career record for 2-point goals until the Chesapeake Bayhawks' Kyle Dixon broke the mark this year. He was an integral part of the Philadelphia (via Bridgeport) Barrage, which went from MLL bottom feeder to champions in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Hubbard, who spent most of his career with the New Jersey Pride, scored 247 career goals, second only to Tim Goettelmann in MLL history.

Colsey was a ruthless competitor who was ahead of the curve in how he conditioned in the off-season. At Syracuse, he would forgo social events to wake up early and practice. He worked out with the football team. When he played professionally, he spent as many as 40 weekends of the year on the road.

"I had a dream. I wanted to see it through, and I only knew one way," said Colsey, who now a high school coach at Ridgefield (Conn.). "I didn't want to have any regrets."

Hubbard honed his catch-and-shoot routine by working at all hours at St. Albans. At Princeton, Hubbard, Hess and Massey spent much of their time talking about release points and feeds at a place on campus aptly called "the pit." Hubbard's pro career often involved catching red-eyes, crashing on friends' couches and flying more than 100,000 miles some years.

"If you look at a lot of successful people, it's because they put in huge amounts of hours practicing," said Andy Hubbard, Jesse's older brother. "[Jesse's] no exception. He worked really, really hard."

This article appears in the October issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

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