Remembering Lacrosse's Fallen Heroes

As today marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center I thought it would be appropriate to look back and remember some of the heroes and fallen members of the lacrosse community that have blessed this sport both on and off the field. There are so many great men that could be highlighted in this but I am just going to talk about a few that have stood out to me and many others over the years.

The first hero of lacrosse that needs to be remembered and highlighted is Welles Crowther, other wise known as "The Man in the Red Bandana". Welles was a native of Nyack, NY and played at DI lacrosse at Boston College. Welles was also a volunteer firefighter. After graduating from Boston College he went to work in New York City where he worked in the World Trade Center South Tower. On September 11th 2001 Welles was in the South Tower when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the building. Crowthers was one of the heroes on that day as he found the only working stairwell from the 78th floor. Crowthers led a group of at least 10 people down the stairwell 17 floors to firefighters while carrying a young woman on his back. After he escorted them to safety he went back up to help the others in need. Crowther returned to the 78th floor to find another group of survivors in need. According to Judy Wein, who worked on the 108th floor, Crowther was putting out fires and administering first aid. Wein recalls Crowther saying to the group, " Everyone stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so." Crowther helped that group down to safety as well. He was last seen going back up the stairs with members of the New York Fire Department to go try and save more people. He did all of that while wearing a red bandana around his face. That bandana he received from his father when he was six years old and he carried it everywhere he went. 

The 9/11 memorial with Welles Crowther's name engraved on it.

Welles is just one of the many heroes that we have seen in this sport but he is always the one that comes to mind at first. His heroic saved many lives and we can all learn lessons from his selfless actions. Boston College continues to remember Welles as Under Armour has made their football team Red Bandana uniforms to wear the week of 9/11 multiple times. Boston College now has a game each year that they designate as the "Red Bandana Game" where they honor Welles. There are many other ways that Boston College remembers Welles too. ESPN, ACC Network, and many other new outlets have done features on Welles and there was a movie that came out last year as well.

A native of Long Island, NY, Eamon McEneaney was an All-American lacrosse player at Cornell from 1975-77. He was sometimes called the Magic Johnson of lacrosse because of the magic he seemed to create on the field. Eamon would help Cornell win back to back national championships and go undefeated in 1976 and 1977. McEneaney also played for Team USA in the 1978 World Lacrosse Championships. His play on the field was second to none and many talk about how he was the best teammate they ever had. McEneaney took pride in the assist but he could also take it to the rack when necessary. Eamon McEneaney is still regarded as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. His jersey is retired at Cornell and he has been inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame. McEneaney was also a very good writer and poet as his family has published a book full of his poems

Photo Courtesy of Inside Lacrosse

On September 11th, 2001 McEneaney was working in New York City at the World Trade Center. McEneaney was one of the many victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Today many remember him as more than a great lacrosse player, but a great friend, family man, and all around great guy. There are multiple variations of tribute videos that Cornell has made in Eamon McEneaney's honor.

Those first two heroes of lacrosse surrounded the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade center but there are other lacrosse heroes that have fallen other ways. These next few men have inspired lacrosse programs and the lacrosse community with their actions. 

George Boiardi may be the single biggest influence on any single college lacrosse program to date, and not because of his play on the field but his actions off of it. A native of Maryland George would go on to play lacrosse at Cornell where his legacy was built. George was one of the most selfless teammates and hardest workers on the team during his time there. He was voted to carry the hardhat as a freshman. The hardhat is a symbol of the blue collar work ethic instilled in the program. Cornell now refers to gritty hard nose plays and stats such as ground balls as Boiardi stats. 

In 2004 during Cornell's game against Binghamton George Boiardi jumped in front of a shot to block it and as it his his chest he collapsed and couldn't be resuscitate. George Boiardi's legacy is lived on today through the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation, and the Book The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate. Cornell also has a memorial in their locker room in his locker and his number 21 has been retired at Cornell. 

Michael Crawford has made a lasting mark on the landscape and future of the sport of lacrosse even if he never got to see his dream come to light. Crawford played lacrosse through high school and went on to college at Hampton. Hampton didn't have lacrosse and he decided during his senior year that he was going to write a proposal to introduce lacrosse as club sport. During the winter break of his senior year he suddenly passed away in his sleep from cardiac arrest. His proposal would live through his mother and coach Lloyd Carter who aided his mom in getting the proposal to the school and is now the head men's lacrosse coach at Hampton. Without Michael Crawford's love and passion for the sport we would not have lacrosse at Hampton which is the first HBCU to have DI lacrosse since Morgan State who dropped lacrosse in 1981. Michael Crawford's legacy lives on through Hampton Lacrosse and his story has been shared on ESPN

Photo Credit Rob Ostermaier/Daily Press

There are many men and women that have fallen as heroes and symbols of this great sport that we all love. These individuals described above are the just a few that scratch the surface of great people in this sport that have passed and we remember very highly. One person that I did leave out was Dave Huntley and with good reason. There will be a larger post coming out in December as we near the one year anniversary of Hunt's death that still rocks the lacrosse world. You don't have to run up 17 floors to save people from a terrorist attack or go the extra mile every day, but living by the examples that these great people have set for us is the least that we can all do. 


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