A Brief History of Lacrosse at Longmeadow High School
by Craig Brown, LHS Class 1970
In the winter of 1969, UMass Men’s Lacrosse coach Dick Garber came to LHS at the request of science teacher Bill McCullough. Coach McCullough, the varsity hockey coach, wanted to introduce the game of lacrosse to the boys at the high school. Nationally recognized, Coach Garber was the perfect person to do just that.
Coach Garber addressed an auditorium full of freshman, sophomore and junior boys, explaining that he was about to introduce them to the fastest game on two feet. He then showed a film of the North-South college lacrosse game from the spring of 1968. The game featured college All-Americans and Garber as coach of the North team. Lacrosse became part of LHS sports during the next two hours as a cheering, awestruck auditorium full of boys fell in love with the game they were nearly all seeing for the first time.
Coach McCullough quickly followed up with the first boy’s lacrosse club. Players purchased wooden sticks with leather and catgut pockets and began throwing and catching that winter and early spring in the high school parking lot and on streets and driveways throughout Longmeadow as they enthusiastically began to build the skills necessary to play lacrosse.
The club team played that first year with helmets on loan from UMass and hockey gloves. The team played prep schools, Amherst High School and even scrimmaged a Springfield College club team. Players traveled to games in cars, Coach McCullough ran the field with his players and everyone fell in love with the game of lacrosse.
In 1970 the team became a varsity sport, and math teacher Dave Stockwell, familiar with lacrosse from his days at Harvard, assisted Coach McCullough. The first varsity season was a huge success, culminating with the first-ever state championship game at Winchester. Longmeadow surprised the Eastern Mass. Champions, beating them 7 to 4. A tradition of unmatched success in Massachusetts high school sports was born.
Throughout the following years, Longmeadow was blessed with committed coaches who got the most from their players. Coach Stockwell succeeded Coach McCullough in the 1970s and his teams continued to win state championships. He was assisted by Dan Kane, who became varsity coach in the 1980s. Coach Kane’s Longmeadow teams enjoyed a series of very successful seasons. Coach Kane was followed by Glenn Maller, and then John Rauseo who was succeeded by current coach Ryan Liebel.
Longmeadow lacrosse has also been blessed throughout the last three decades with exceptional players, many of whom were high school All-Americans who went on to stellar college careers. Beginning in the ’70’s with brothers Dick and Bob Jones along with Charlie Jones (unrelated). Continuing with Greg Fisk, Greg Collins, Ed Carey, Mike Sweet and others in the ‘80s, the Martinelli brothers, Chris and Nick, Greg Macdonald, Brent Thomas and other in the ‘90s and continuing into the 21st century, outstanding coaches have helped to develop outstanding players.
While many more high school lacrosse programs exist today than the few that played in 1970, one thing remains unchanged. Lacrosse at LHS occupies a special place in the history of high school sports in Longmeadow and throughout Massachusetts. Coach Liebel continues the tradition of excellence that began in the high school auditorium in 1969.