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Syracuse Lacrosse Memories from the 1980s, Recruiting Then and Now

Photo of Hall of Famer Todd Curry, a member of the my recruiting class, covering Hopkins Hall of Famer Brian Wood. That’s Kenny Nim’s dad Tom in goal, Photo is from my first National Championship lost to the Hop at Delaware University in 1984. My two years at cuse is known as the dry years when we lost two championship games in a row, 1984 and 1985 both to the Hop.

My orientation to SU lacrosse happened organically with a very talented 1983 recruiting class. The class included Neil Alt (Towson, MD) Dan Pratt (Homer, NY) Gordie Mapes (Rush-Henrietta, Rochester), Todd Curry (West Gennee) Pat Donahue (West Gennee), Mike O’Donnell “OD” (Yorktown), Tom Nelson (Yorktown) Matt Holman (Summit, NJ), Mark Brannigan (West Genee, Cobleskill), Chris Bruno (Cobleskill), Matt Cacacciato (Fox Lane, NY, Cobleskill) Rhett Cavanaugh (Fox Lane, NY, Army) and Chris Baduini (Montclair, NJ) Some of us first met at the 83 championship team banquet in the summer following SU's victory over Hopkins. The festivities took place at Drumlin’s Country Club near campus.We had baked chicken with baked potato and steamed broccoli along with chocolate layer cake for dessert if I remember correctly. Simmie had us recruits sit together introducing each one to the audience with some brief remarks. Coach made a lofty comment about my ability and that I would be a very special player. The comment put me in an awkward position with the other recruits and championship team members at the event. Some smirked at me as if to say ok your coache's favorite now. That favoritism proved short lived as I shall discuss later. But early on Simmie saw something in me back then that other coaches didn’t. However what he saw remained hidden until I adapted to a new system and level of play. I argue that a key to SU's lacrosse success over the years has been the coaching staff's ability to find diamonds in the rough in the most usual places. Certainly the story of how the Hall Fame Gait brothers arrived on campus is an excellent case in point. In recruiting, what you see is not always what you get. How recruiting is done today at the Division I level is quite short sighted in my view because it is gambling on young sophomore and juniors in high school and overlooking seniors, post grads at prep schools, and junior college kid like me. Today Syracuse is one of the few top ranked programs that still makes room on its roster for non-traditional recruits like me.

Syracuse Lacrosse Memories from the 1980s: Lax Pedigree

Syracuse Lacrosse in the 1980s, Tim Nelson