Creator's Game

Hobart Lacrosse

The History of Hobart Lacrosse

Lacrosse, "the fastest game on two feet," was introduced to the Hobart College campus in 1898 by Professor of Philosophy Joseph A. Leighton, who led the Statesmen to their first game against now traditional rival Cornell, on April 5, 1898. The college yearbook described the game in the following way:

"The 12 Hobart men, indistinguishable from the Cornell team because of the mud, handled their sticks, with several exceptions, like shovels. The ball seemed like a ball of grease which kept burying itself in the mud and defied the efforts of the pushing players to get control of it.

"All that afternoon, despite the driving rain and slippery mud, the first Hobart College lacrosse team ever to take the field held a powerful and more exp"rienced Cornell team in check. Finally the game ended with Hobart the victor by a 2 to 1 score.”

The team would lose its next two games, achieving its first winning season three years later in 1902 with an 8-7 record. Under the leadership of Professor Leighton, who was also chaplain, coach, and star player for the Statesmen, the best seasons of those early years came in 1906 with a 7-4-1 tally. An early photograph of a game against Cornell reveals the players dashing about without helmets, facemasks, or protective garb of any kind.

Also in 1906, Hobart was admitted as one of the 12 charter members of the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse League. Representing an institution with a registration of barely 100 students, the Hobart team went against such giants as Harvard, Yale, and Cornell. Other opponents included the Native American teams of the Carlisle, the Onondaga, and the Seneca. In the process, the Statesmen produced numerous All-Americans and five members of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

One of those Hall of Famers is Francis L. "Babe" Kraus, himself an All-American, a player in the first game he ever witnessed, and the Hobart coach with the longest consecutive coaching record at any college. During his career from 1927 to 1966 he produced 57 All-Americans and a record of 207 wins, 120 losses and five ties.

Following Kraus's death, Buddy Beardmore coached the Statesmen for one season before Jerry Schmidt took the helm in 1968 and helped usher in a new era of success. He guided the Statesmen to their first national title, the 1972 USILA College Division Championship, as well as the NCAA Division II Championships in 1976 and 1977. A member of the Hobart Athletics Hall of Fame and Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Schmidt led the Statesmen to five straight national title games and a 141-35 record.

Dave Urick, an assistant coach for eight seasons under Schmidt, served as interim co-coach in 1979 and began the team’s phenomenal string national championships in 1980. He led the Statesmen to 10 straight NCAA Division III titles in the '80s, surpassing the legendary John Wooden of UCLA for most consecutive titles in a team sport. Hobart compiled a 122-30 record in 10 years under Urick's direction, including a distinguished 90-3 record in Division III play.

The championship string continued under former Hobart All-American B.J. O'Hara. He guided the team to five semifinal appearances and three national championships in 1990, 1991, and 1993.

In 1995, the College elevated the program to Division I. The Statesmen have continued their tradition of excellence by earning NCAA Tournament bids in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004, as well as a pair of Patriot League Championships.

The success on the field has also resulted in a long list of individual awards. Two hundred Statesmen have earned 250 All-American awards and 102 invitations to participate in the prestigious North-South Senior All-Star Game.

 

 

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