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GYL History

Lacrosse first came to Greenwich in the Spring of 1972 when only a few town programs existed in Fairfield County. The original program, organized under the auspices of the Old Greenwich-Riverside Community Center (OGRCC), was started as an instructional program designed to introduce the boys of Old Greenwich and Riverside to the game of lacrosse.

The program, organized in February of 1972, was founded by L.C. Whitey Heist, the program commissioner, Jack Davies, John Behne, and Sam Connor, all former college players and residents of Old Greenwich or Riverside. Initially the program was limited to residents of Old Greenwich-Riverside in the grades of 7 through 9, which corresponded to the grade levels at Eastern Junior High School at the time.

The initial funding for the program was provided by the OGRCC, and enrollment was limited to 100 boys. The Community Center provided helmets, pads, goals, and balls while the boys were responsible for providing their own gloves, sticks, and shoes. A registration fee of $35 per boy helped to partially offset the Communitys Center costs. In addition each participant received a team T-shirt jersey.

Since few if any of the participants had ever seen the game of lacrosse played, a three-week program of instruction was conducted to teach the basic skills of passing, catching, cradling and scooping the ball. During this three-week period the coaches evaluated each boys skill level and used the evaluations to form four balanced teams. Each team then played a three-game schedule.

Each team was coached by one of the four organizers and assisted by other volunteer coaches, among them Sam Stolle, Bill Schoonmaker, and Peter McSpadden, who enthusiastically came forward to help out. Once the teams were formed twice weekly practices were held at Riverside School field with games being played on Saturday mornings.

The players and their parents enthusiastically received the first year of the program; the Little League Baseball coaches however were not so enthusiastic. Since boys were not permitted to participate in both programs, the Little Leaguers complained that the lacrosse program was taking all of their good athletes.

Over the next ten years the program remained the same although sixth graders were eventually allowed to participate and a travelling team, made up of the best players, was formed to play other junior programs around the county. By the mid-1980 the original organizers had retired from the program and passed the reins on to younger men. They enlarged the program allowing younger boys to participate and added a program for girls.

Sam Connor