5-1: 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.

Previously: #25 - #21 | #20 - #16 | #15 - #11 | #10 - #6

As we saw yesterday there were many outstanding achievements for Upstate players in 2011, and there was no let down in the coaching department. Upstate was well represented with four national coaching awards.

Chris Ryan, an Irondequoit native and head coach of Division II Champion Mercyhurst was named USILA D-II Coach of the Year. He holds a 123-31 career record, ranking him in the top-5 among active coaches in winning percentage.

A native of Homer, and a graduate of Nazareth College, RIT head man Jake Coon was named the USILA Division III Coach of the Year. As we saw earlier, RIT won their first 19 games of the 2011 season. In just two seasons as a head coach, Coon has amassed an impressive 33-7 record, two conference championsips and two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Also in his second year, SUNY Albany's John Battaglino was named the nation's top Divison I coach for the 2011 season by Lacrosse Magazine, Inside Lacrosse, Snyapse Sports and WomensLax.com. Battaglino is a graduate of Siena, and earned two gradulate degress. As an assistant coach he was instrumental in the success and growth of the Syracuse University women's program before moving to the top spot at Albany.

Dave Hoover, head coach at Genesee Community College, was named the Scott D. Livie Memorial Award/Coach of the Year by the NJCAA. Hoover is a long-time coach in the Western NY area, including the top spot at Niagara University. Coach Hoover will enter his sixth season as head coach in the spring of 2012.

In 2010 our #1 story was "Iroquois Nationals Denied". It was tremendous the see the Iroquois Nation return to international lacrosse and continue their long, proud tradition in 2011.

The Nationals took a great team and plenty of confidence to Prague for the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. An 11-10 win over Team USA gave the Iroquois the top spot in Group B and a date to face the suprising Czech Rupublic in the Medal Round semi's. A 19-6 win there put them right where they wanted to be - facing the Canadians and a try at avenging their OT loss to them in Nova Scotia in 2007.

The team was honored at the NLL All-Star Game played at the Oneida Nation's Turning Stone Resort, and in October the team returned there to once again down Team USA, this time in the second annual Bowhunters Cup.

Rumored to be in the works is a joint Iroquois-US bid to host the 2015 Indoor Championships in Upstate NY.

Since lacrosse has yet to grow enough to have its own idioms, we'll have to borrow one from, I'm sorry, baseball. "Wow! This came out of left field!"

In mid-September is was announced that the ACC Council of Presidents had unanimously voted to accept Pittsburgh and Syracuse as new members. It really wasn't a surprise that it happened. It's just that it's very difficult for people who have advance knowledge of these types of earth-shattering events to keep quiet about them. OK, so maybe earth-shattering is a little strong . . . unless you are one of the remaining Big East schools.

Obviously most of the attention shines on its effect on football and basketball. But throughout the lacrosse world, just the thought of Syracuse joining the likes of Maryland and North Carolina and Duke and, oh my, Virginia! in one conference is scary-sweet. The Orange see these teams on a fairly regular basis as it is, but the fans don't. Will this mean a few more meaningful games in the Dome each season, or must we trek down to some neutral sight to catch these great Conference matchups?

Sure, still no automatic qualifyer for now, but the often talked about RPI affect the ACC Tournament provides just ratcheded up a notch or two.

A very charished member of the Upsate lacrosse family, Carthage head coach Kirk Ventiquattro, has recently begun prostate cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York City. Lacrosse family from around the country have stepped forward to helped in any way possible, from arranging a refferal to Sloan-Kettering, to covering expenses, and providing a place to stay. You can help, as well, whether it's by purchasing a Coach 24 t-shirt from LaxBal.com, or offering words of encouragment as Coach tweets about his experiences as @CoachTwenty4.

There was no greater event in lacrosse than what happened at the Section 3 Upstate Risings tryouts at Fayetteville-Manlius High on June 15, 2011.
A life was saved.

Do to the quick reactions of Rome Free Academy lacrosse coaches Guy Calandra and Jeremy Roberts, F-M trainer Cyndi Kelder, and a mother of two other players who was a register nurse, Dan Cochran, a sophomore defender from Jamesville-DeWitt was revived after being hit in the chest and collapsing to the ground. Credit also goes to organizer and Hall of Famer Tom Hall and F-M boys lacrosse coach Chris Kenneally for making sure there was an AED on site for the tryouts.

This tragedy-averted was yet another testimony as to how critically important having AED's at all sporting events, as Joshua Christian, managing director, sport development at US Lacrosse was quick to point out.

Dan was out of the hospital after one night, and went back to school just two days after the incident. And he was able to participate in the Upstate Risings Tournament, shown in the photo above starting a clear for Section 3.

The heroes from that day were thanked by Dan, his family, and the community for their quick actions that saved a life.

And his story lives on as well. The school paper, The J-D RamPage gave him the opportunity to reflect four months after his 'death'. I guess when something like this happens, you appreciate more things people do for you, he said.