'Overtime' Takeaways: Gary Gait's Archnemesis and the Origin of No. 22

Any time the Gary Gait lacrosse story is told, fans reminisce about the days watching him dazzle at Syracuse and in Major League Lacrosse. His skills on the lacrosse field were unmatched, and his highlights still circulate on social media today.

Gait, the current Syracuse women’s lacrosse coach, joined fellow Orange great Paul Carcaterra for Season 3, Episode 9 of the “Overtime” podcast. His journey has been chronicled before, but fans learned plenty about one of the game’s greatest players.

Let’s dive into our biggest takeaways.

Gait Traveled Down the West Coast to Play Field Lacrosse

Gait grew up in Victoria, B.C., playing both box and field lacrosse When it came time for Gait to think about his future in the game, he knew he needed more experience in the field game. He’d have to travel across the border to find more competition.

His more frequent stops? San Francisco and Portland.

“We’d go down and play in tournaments against other school-aged teams,” Gait said. “I loved the American style, the ability to play with both hands.”



The Origin of No. 22

Gait wore No. 38 his freshman year, but as soon as the No. 22 opened up, he got permission from coach Roy Simmons Jr. to switch. That number became synonymous with the Syracuse program for decades.

It was no random choice. Gait wore No. 22 in Junior A lacrosse back in Western Canada, and he did so to honor a former teammate murdered in Victoria. John Crowther, who played at Rutgers, was killed in 1984. He was a teammate and mentor to Gait as he grew into a talented young player.

“He was just the nicest, amazing guy,” Gait said of Crowther. “He was a guy I looked up to. He was older when I got called up to play Junior A in Victoria. I always liked him and looked up to him.”

His Archnemesis

Gary Gait made a fool of too many defensemen to count during his playing career, and very few found success matched up with him. However, a certain relentless Johns Hopkins and U.S. defensemen had the better of Gait.

Dave Pietramala was one of the greatest defensive players of all-time, and he could hold his own against his Canadian counterpart.

“Dave was a tough matchup for me because he was big and he could run with me, but he was a lefty,” Gait said. “That always gave me problems, being a one-handed player. The way he played, it allowed him to hold and keep the stick free so that I couldn’t lean on his stick and take away his ability to throw checks. I don’t think I ever had my greatest game against him.”

Who does he enjoy watching today?

Gary Gait had fans on the edge of their respective seats during his career, and now he’s become one of those fans for the next generation. Carcaterra asked Gait which players he gets excited to watch in 2020 — and the list has a throwback feel to it.

He started with his former teammate, John Grant Jr.

“He’s just so fun, so creative,” Gait said. “Even when he came out of retirement, he was still making highlight reels instead of just trying to play the game. There are very few of those types of players, the ones that could play into their 40s.”

Also on Gait’s list? Brodie Merrill.

“He changed the way we played defense,” Gait said.

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