25-21: Top 25 Stories of 2011

Don't be disappointed if you've never heard of some of our Top 25 Stories of 2011. This is not a list of stories with the most hits, or most views, or most comments. Many times a death, an award, a project in progress or recently completed can affect many, many lives without much fanfare in the press. Many of these stories bring fond memories, give us hope for the future, or inspire greatness, many times with a smile or a tear.

#25 - #21 | #20 - #16 | #15 - #11 | #10 - #6 | #5 - #1

For the first time Major League Lacrosse held its collegiate draft before the completion of the NCAA season. In some ways it was a risky move, considering the many opportunities for injuries that could devastate an MLL team's vision of the future.

On the flip side, the hype for the MLL was magnified many times over during each televised college game where drafted players participated. If you watched any Syracuse games on television you probably lost count of the number of times you heard about how the Orange had the most number of players selected in the Draft. Did this add pressure to the "Syracuse Seven" in the already super-competitive environment that Division I lacrosse has become? Probably not. Did it increase expectations for their performances once they went Pro? I'll give that a 'maybe'.

Thinking back on it, this mentioning of the MLL Draft during each collegiate broadcast of games involving draftees probably didn't hurt the recruiting aspect for the colleges involved: "Come to our school . . . gateway to professional lacrosse."

On December 13th the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) named LaFayette native and Ithaca College graduate Tom Sutton as the Referee in Chief for the 2014 FIL World Menís Lacrosse Championships, July 10-19, 2014, at Dickís Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colo.

We watched Tom officiate the the Gold Medal Game of the 2006 World Championships in London, Ontario. He has worked the last six MLL Championship games, and he has several NCAA Champions Tournament games under his belt. Tom has also worked the indoor game, both for the NLL and in international play.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Niagara Frontier Lacrosse Officials Association.

From the press release: "This is one of the highest honors a lacrosse official can achieve," said Sutton, also an interpreter and a trainer. "Iím looking forward to working with my colleagues to provide the best, fairest officiating we can to the 2014 FIL World Championships."

US Lacrosse Press Release

Way back in the first week of January came word of NCAA sanctions against the Hobart lacrosse program. And then in April, six SUNY Potsdam teams, including the men's and women's lacrosse programs, were penalized for violations. We're not going into the legalese here, but needless to say even the cloud of an NCAA investigation, let alone sanctions, is not something any school family wants to think about.

Repairing any program is hard work, and, frankly, takes a lot of love from the administration, alumni, and fans. Keeping a program running smoothly is also hard work. If there is a silver lining to all this, perhaps every other lacrosse school has taken a step back and looked to assure that their programs are in compliance, and have sufficient internal oversight to keep them that way.

The summer of 2011 saw the return of not one, not two, but three Powell's in some form or fashion to their roots of Upstate NY, and Upstate lacrosse as well.

A couple of years after trading the somewhat 'unique' climate of Upstate (thanks to the wonderous Great Lakes) for sunny and warm (but let's not forget humid) Florida, Casey Powell temporarily returned in 2011 and brought a few friends . . . two U-18 varsity teams and a U-15 junior varsity team, all a part of his Team 22 Lacrosse Club. The group got a tour of the Syracuse University facilities and played in Jim Morrissey's 1st Annual Upstate Summer Classic before heading up to the Lake Placid Tournament.

Ryan Powell, who headed West to Oregon to establish his elite Rhino Lacrosse Club, brought his U-15 Jr. Black Rhinos East to tour Manley and the Dome before heading to Lake Placid as well.

It's nice to see the tradition of Upstate alums taking what they've learned here to other areas of the country hungry for 'this new sport'. Even better when those alums want to show off their roots and have their students tested against some of the best teams in the East.

In a different kind of return, Mikey Powell, inspired by Casey's MLL 'comeback' with Hamilton and scary injury as the Championship Game came to an end, came back to the game after a long absence devoting his time and effort to his love of music. Mikey wowed the crowd in Placid playing for the Burning Orange on an attack line with Liam Banks and Kenny Nims. And for the first week in December it looked like Mikey fans all over the country might get an early Christmas present as he registered for the MLL Expansion Draft, only to remove his name at nearly the last moment. Why, Mikey? Why?

One year ago this week lacrosse lost one of its greatest supporters as the President Emeritus of the Syracuse Lacrosse Stickmen's Club, John McElroy, 79, passed away after battling cancer. We never got the chance to meet John McElroy, and from what we've heard and read about the man, that was our great loss. "Mr. Mac" was founder of the Stickmenís club, and the John McElroy Spirit and Dedication Award is presented annually to the member of the Orange Ēwho best exemplifies the continuous, quiet loyalty and determined dedication to the team.Ē We first learned of his death from Tya at the Syracuse.com Orange forum, and in January we asked Scott "Woody" Weddell to allow us to post his rememberence of John McElroy. Here is what he wrote:

"I have so much to thank Mr Mac for and have great memories of the time I was lucky enough to spend with him. He was one the kindest people I have ever met and someone that inspired me to be a better person, the stories he told me are still vivid and I will never forget the influence he has had on me and my family. He introduced me to everyone and looked after me everytime I made a trip to Syracuse, the McElroy family have been so very good to me over the years and it would be impossible for me to repay what they have done for me.

"The McElroy Award and what it stands for is a parallel of a truely great man, who put so much into the program and was so dedicated to the team, I'm sure hundreds of players and parents that he has touched over the years will never forget him. The spirit of Syracuse Lacrosse off the field is something very special, the people and the way they look after each other is amazing, John had a lot to do with this and his caring, selfless attitude was and still is infectious.

"Do you remember the Shamrock decals the players used to wear on their helmets, the decals where given to them by John McElroy at practice, I hope the team can do this again this year in dedication to him.

"I will never forget you Mr Mac, love to the McElroy family and Cuse faithful.


Former SU Student Manager Justin Simon posted his thoughts on 'Mr. Mac' at his College Crosse blog.