Friday, August 28, 2015

Maryland Lacrosse History - Testudo Goes Missing

Incredulous Maryland Terrapin undergrads, 1947 (The Diamondback)
College Park, MD- As I finish research on a history of lacrosse in the state of Maryland, I've come across some great, rare material. The Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame is preparing their archives for a move to a new facility in nearby Sparks. Fortunately for me, this means plenty of items are out on temporary display before they get packed up.

I've flipped through thousands of photos and newspaper pages, and this picture certainly merits sharing. It's a 1947 photo from the University of Maryland newspaper The Diamondback, and it shows (photogenically) bemused Maryland students staring at a pedestal that once held...something.

That something was UM's beloved statue of Testudo, the university's mascot. The occasion for the theft was the forthcoming lacrosse rivalry game against the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. The perpetrators? Those same Blue Jays. A minor riot ensued on campus, the culprits were later brought to justice, and Testudo returned.

The photo is a reminder of how fortunate the lacrosse world is that both the Terps and Blue Jays are members of the new BIG-10 lacrosse league that began this year. With conference realignments annually terminating long-standing rivalries, college lacrosse's most intense was spared when the two joined the BIG-10 (Hopkins for lacrosse-only).

Coming into the season, Hopkins and Maryland previously faced each other 111 times. Hopkins won the annual regular season matchup in 2015 with a 15-12 victory over the Terps in College Park. The Jays came into the game at 6-6 and the Terps at 12-1 and at the time it appeared a major upset.

In the BIG-10 tournament, Hopkins had the last laugh, or near to it, when they captured the first BIG-10 championship in history with a win over Ohio State. The Buckeyes earlier upset the Terps, 9-6, in the semis and then bowed to Hopkins in the conference championship, 13-6.

Hopkins was surging with a 9-6 record, and a reasonable assurance of an NCAA tournament bid in place. The BIG-10 lacrosse tournament will have an automatic NCAA postseason qualifier for its champion beginning in 2016-2017.



Johns Hopkins and Maryland were both part of the BIG-10's inaugural lacrosse season (Photo / Getty Images)

The Terrapins finished out 2015 as the better team after they topped Hopkins in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, 12-11, to gain the championship. This was an especially tough blow for the Jays as it came just days after they dramatically knocked off their nemesis, Syracuse, in the quarterfinals at Annapolis. 

In the championship, the Terps fell to Denver under head coach Bill Tierney. Maryland closed out their season short of a national title, but with the current upper hand in a competition spanning back well over a century.  - Tom Flynn

Sunday, August 23, 2015

NAIA's Clarke University Adds Lacrosse

(Photo / Clarke University)

Dubuque, IA - As lacrosse continues to spread throughout the country, the NAIA is proving one of its primary engines at the small college level. The Clarke University Crusaders are poised to launch both their men's and women's programs in the spring of 2016. Led by former Mount St. Mary's NCAA Division I defenseman Kasey Burst, the team is rapidly taking shape.

I'll be contributing a weekly update to the NAIA website as a lead-up to the upcoming season. - TF

Friday, August 21, 2015

Valpo Soccer on American Sports Network

Rita Craven of the Horizon League (Photo / valpoathletics.com)
South Bend, IN - Check the American Sports Network website today for an article on Rita Craven and the Valparaiso women's soccer team. Craven is on the watch list for player of the year and her Crusaders open their 2015 schedule tonight at Notre Dame. - Tom Flynn

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Heart of Baltimore Baseball Represents City at the AAABA Tournament

Baltimore's Presstman Cardinals (Photo / Presstman Cardinals)
Johnstown, PA- After a fifty+ year wait, the Presstman Cardinals seized the opportunity to uphold the city's long-standing commitment to the All-America Amateur Baseball Tournament in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. 

The Cardinals were led by manager Reggie Smith, whose father started the team
​in 1962 in Baltimore. They are named after the city's Presstman Street and were created at a time when African-American players were routinely excluded from white competitions.

Were it not for the Cardinals’ appearance, Baltimore would have been without a representative in the historic competition for the second straight year. The tournament dates back to 1945, and a Baltimore team has captured the championship 29 times. Smith’s teams often competed to represent the city but until this year fell short. The door opened when Youse’s Maryland Orioles, a perennial champion, moved to U18 status and were ineligible for the tournament. 

The city of Johnstown and AAABA tournament were happy to see a Baltimore team back in competition. 
“We were so grateful. One of the Johnstown fans said, ‘We’re going to root for you until you play the host team.’ It just makes you feel at home,” Smith told the city’s Tribune-Democrat.

The team prepared by playing Baltimore City League games as well as games in Maryland’s Prince George's County. 
The Cardinals went 1-2, notching a comeback victory over Cleveland before being eliminated by perennial tournament power, New Orleans. 

It was the first time to the tournament for all of the members of Smith's young club. "With this spotlight on us, these guys will take the experience back to the young kids and next year, those young kids will look at the caliber of players and hopefully they can mimic these players the way I remember mimicking the Negro league players and Leone's when I was a kid back in the day," Smith said. 



The 2015 Presstman Cardinals (Photo / Presstman Cardinals)


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Books: A River Runs Through It

(Image / University of Chicago Press)
Missoula, MT - Unless you live in the shadows of the narrow canyon of the Big Blackfoot River, the trout are probably not hitting this time of year. If you're inclined to trout fishing   and I am more in notion than practice  it's a good time then to find instead some shade and pull out A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean.

The story is labeled fiction and is told in the first person by Norman, although to my recollection his name is never uttered or referenced in the book. Its focus is two sons, raised by a Presbyterian minister and his wife, in the early third of the 20th century. Paul, Norman's brother, is the finest fisherman on the Big Blackfoot, but away from it is where his troubles begin, and ultimately end. The first line of the novel makes clear the relation of the father's favorite avocation to his vocation, "In our family there was no clear line between fly-fishing and religion."

Norman is the elder of the two brothers and the lesser of the two fishermen. The story unfolds on the river's banks and shores, and in Missoula and Helena, Montana. Throughout the narrative, Norman tries to sway Paul from his twin troubles of gambling and drinking. There seems to be little that he can do, and it is his effort that is the poignant stuff of the story. For those who have tried to help someone without a discernible direction  and it's difficult to picture a reader who hasn't lasting the slim volume out  A River Runs Through It will certainly resonate.

It is a short book, maybe 25,000 words head to tail, and Maclean has fortunately picked up his father's proclivity for few words, well-chosen. His crowning achievement may be that there is not a line in the book's entirety that doesn't belong. Written at age 72 it was Maclean's first book, yet it's not weighed down with a lifetime of unwritten musings.

It is at its core a simple story of struggle and family, and a perfect one at that.  - TF

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dartmouth Football on American Sports Network

Dartmouth football is utilizing virtual reality (Photo / John Risley)
Hanover, NH - Check the American Sports Network website today for an article on the innovative use of virtual reality technology by the Dartmouth football team. - Tom Flynn

Another Western State Adds Varsity Lacrosse

For several years I've contributed lacrosse articles to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  This week I w...