US Lacrosse Joins Cortland Lacrosse Legends Celebration

As a nod to the future, Bill Tierney and his Denver team hosted a high school clinic for boys in grades 7-12, while US Lacrosse provided a TryLax clinic for boys and girls ages 6-13, with 14 Cortland alums serving as coaches.

A condensed version of this story appeared in the Northeast edition of the April issue of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the print edition? Become a US Lacrosse member today and help support the positive development of the sport.

Past, present, and future all merged during a memorable lacrosse weekend in Cortland, N.Y., last fall.

The men’s lacrosse program at SUNY Cortland has a long and storied history, dating back to its original roots in 1926. Over decades, a significant number of its graduates, almost all of whom were Red Dragon players, have entered the coaching ranks. Seven Cortland grads are enshrined in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Fueled by a desire to celebrate this history, last year the school announced the formation of its Cortland Lacrosse Legacy Club (C-LAX Legends) and hosted a kickoff weekend packed with events and activities in October.

Anchored by a fall ball scrimmage between Cortland and NYIT, coached by alum Bill Dunn, the weekend also included youth and high school player clinics, multiple alumni socials, a golf outing and an alumni game. 

“There was a lot of work involved to make this happen,” said Cortland head coach Steve Beville. “We were fortunate to have some of our alums commit a lot of their time and energy into putting this together.”

The Legends dinner on Saturday night, a nod to the past, honored five of the renowned Hall of Fame coaches produced by the school: Joe Cuozzo ’59, Mike Messere ’66, Bill Tierney ’73, Dave Urick ’70, and Paul Wehrum ’72.

The dinner was followed by a men’s fall ball night game at Cortland Stadium between Syracuse University and Tierney’s Denver squad. Fittingly, the game finished in a tie, 15-15.

“Coach Tierney was very gracious to bring his whole team,” Beville said.

Earlier in the day, the Cortland Youth Bureau, which provides recreational and educational programs to city residents, sponsored two youth clinics that featured many of the legends and alumni as clinicians.

As a nod to the future, Tierney and his Denver team hosted a high school clinic for boys in grades 7-12, while US Lacrosse provided a TryLax clinic for boys and girls ages 6-13, with 14 Cortland alums serving as coaches.

Utilizing LADM principles and age-appropriate learning, TryLax clinics are designed as an introductory experience for new players and offered as an affordable, no-obligation option for parents and families.

“I was super impressed with the 90-minute TryLax curriculum that introduced basic stick skills while incorporating fun,” said John McNerney, Cortland Youth Bureau Director. “There were many smiling faces and youth who will be signing up for our spring lacrosse league that might otherwise been trying another sport in 2020.”

Bruce Casagrande, class of ’75, served as one of the weekend’s primary organizers and said that including the two player clinics was pretty important.

“We wanted to make this an impactful weekend, and by having many of our alums serving as coaches at the clinics, it was a chance to expose people to what Cortland lacrosse is all about,” Casagrande said. “Cortland is the cradle of coaches.”

The packed weekend schedule started with an alumni tailgate on Friday afternoon preceding the Cortland scrimmage with NYIT and concluded late Sunday morning with a farewell brunch.

“We wanted to do something to stimulate the alumni,” Casagrande said. “This was a massive project, but I don’t think there was anything we could have done to make it any better.”

“Once we got the ball rolling, things just fell right into place,” Beville said.

The plan is to continue the C-LAX Legends celebration as an annual event and continue to honor significant lacrosse alums each year. While all five of this year’s honorees were coaches, future recognitions will include outstanding players from Cortland’s history.

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