MSU Lacrosse

[NOTE: Men’s lacrosse was born in club form at Michigan State 45 years ago. Surviving members of that first team will gather from all over the US in East Lansing at the end of March. Most of the festivities will boil down to trying to figure out what actually happened way back then, and how the hell we all got so old. The following document is the first-ever history of that first club’s founding and initial season. Women’s lacrosse preceeded the men’s game at MSU.]




By Some of The Few Who Lived It And Retain Enough Brain Cells to Recall  


 Recollections of the Michigan State Lacrosse Club’s Formation and Inaugural Season Go green! This is a recollection of events that occurred during the fall of 1962 through the end of spring term, 1963, the birthing period of MSU Lacrosse. All the details may not be 100 percent accurate because they occurred 45 years ago and are being remembered by a bunch of “mature” minds. We are certain some of our 1963 teammates will remember the events differently, and we look forward to great fun debating the facts.  Detroit poet Bob Hickock has written, “Tests show within seconds recall’s fiction, that we create more than we remember. Ergo, caveat lector. 

In compiling these memories, we have been consistently amused by the fact that we all remembered some things, none of us remembered all things, and all of us remembered some things differently. We tried very hard to make this “remembering” as accurate as possible, but we should all bear in mind that this document is similar to those that used to leak from the USSR: The Russian people in those days used to say that the future was easy to report, but the past kept changing as the Kremlin continually revised it. If this brings forth new memories or clarifications of fact, please let us know and we’ll fine-tune the official version.


Preamble done, caveats issued, let us begin the journey.


 Getting Off the Ground: Wags’s and Dwarf’s and Bud’s Most Excellent Dream, & How Three Laxketeers Pretty Much Carried the Ball To Get This Great Thing Started   Once Upon a Time in East Lansing (to be more precise, Fall Term, 1962), one David Wagner (Wags) had just transferred from Ohio Wesleyan to Michigan State. Having played lacrosse at Wesleyan, Wags was extremely anxious to continue competing, and was convinced that in the student body of a humongous university like MSU there should be enough lacrosse players to start a team. Dave began putting up notices on bulletin boards in all of the men’s dormitories around campus (and perhaps some in women’s dorms too, in hopes of scoring dates…but that’s for another time and it’s rank speculation at this point). Remember, the dorms were segregated by gender back then and on Friday and Saturday nights the girls had to be back by a certain time. Vietnam was underway, but not widely known, and the make-whoopee, not war movement had not yet begun to coalesce.  No monkey business was allowed back then. [Not in the dorms, anyway.] Almost immediately Dave hooked up with Bruce Goodwin (Dwarf), a freshman from Baltimore, who had played the game since grade school, and was concurrently looking to pull together a team. Dave and Bruce joined forces. Meanwhile Bud Schulz, who hailed from upstate New York, had the same interest and was doing the same thing, thus, the two “groups” were putting up their own posters and sort of working at counter purposes. Dr. Frank Beeman was the direction of Michigan State Intramurals at the time, and the two efforts were under way, someone from his staff saw the different lacrosse posters and brought them to his attention. Dr. Beeman then called the boys and suggested they work together and try to start an official MSU club. He told the boys they would have to create bylaws, elect officers, and follow Robert’s Rules of Order. He also arranged for them to use the new meeting /classroom on the second floor of the IM Building.    The new IM Building was then state-of-the-art and Dr. Beeman was very interested in getting as many students as possible to utilize the marvelous new facility. He told the amigos that he would like to help them out, but they would have to form an “official” club with officers and by-laws.  Once enough interested students were identified, the club was organized. Dave became our first club president, Bruce our first coach and club vice president, and Bud our first secretary/ treasurer. None of them drew salaries but they all were and are huge in the history of Michigan State Lacrosse. Without them, it would not have happened when it did. [For the record, Bud still has his copy of Robert’s Rules of Order.]


With the club formally and legally organized, Dr. Beeman helped schedule the dirt arena – over the protests of Danny Litwiler (Varsity baseball), and the coaches of women’s softball, women’s lacrosse, and men’s soccer. Let it be noted:  Getting access to the dirt arena was a very big deal, and as Bud puts it, “Here’s to dirt in your mouth!” We doubt that most of the original team ever saw the by-laws (or cared to see them; the point being the game and the club only a means).  

The Motley Crew Begins To Take Shape It didn’t take long to begin to gather a group of a couple of dozen “idiots” who wanted to play, and the Michigan State Lacrosse Club was born. We don’t remember how many of us played before, but those with previous playing experience formed the core of the starters. In addition to Bruce, Bud, and Dave, there were experienced players from Maryland, Long Island, and upstate New York, then the epicenters of high school lacrosse. We also were fortunate to have Canadian grad student Wayne Pecknold, who had played box lacrosse in western Canada.  Wayne would start the season as our goalie and later switch to attack where he became our leading scorer. [The fact that Wayne had played professionally in Canada was not something we advertised to our opponents.] When Wayne moved out of the net, Chet “The Nose” Grabowski stepped between the pipes and became our first permanent goalie. Many of the experienced players switched positions to firm up our starting 10.  For example, Joe “Crutch” Sutschek went from crease defense in high school, where he never even sniffed the opponent’s goal, to crease attack .


Gearing Up: How the Boys Got It Rolling, Met With Biggie Munn Along the Way, And Short-Sticked “An Urban Myth The club’s first challenge was equipment. At that time, Bachrach-Raisin Co. (of Baltimore) had a program to loan equipment to start-up teams for their initial season — an obvious marketing ploy, given that B-R was one of the few stick manufacturers in the world.  Now, let us be precise on this next point: In those days, we played the game like men – that is, using wooden sticks, not the sissified composite wands of today. To be fair, our Native American forerunners, inventors of baggataway (lacrosse) used wooden sticks and hatchets and other weapons, and perhaps their game was a teensy bit more violent.  [HISTORY NOTE: The game in the early going was largely a way for Iroquois warriors to stay in shape for making war. Any warrior who lagged from the action during games was whipped and beaten by women and other spectators.] Just like the Iroquois, Michigan State’s first lacrosse team used wood sticks, and no doubt we also would have used hatchets, etc, but referees back then were real jerks about equipment and strict constructionists on the rules.  

Being our Baltimore native, Bruce Goodwin probably proposed approaching Bachrach-Raisin, but he can’t remember and if he can’t it’s a moot point. All that matters historically is that in order to approach B-R, we needed proof of official and formal support of the university for the club, and of course

 We remain at the time of this writing somewhat “fuzzy” on exactly how, where and with whom the next few organizational meetings occurred [or even if], but at some point late that autumn, Wags, Dwarf, Crutch, and Bill Ferguson managed to schedule a meeting with none other than MSU Athletic Director and legend, Clarence “Biggie” Munn, to discuss our MSU club lacrosse team. Can you imagine the athletic director of a Big Ten university today agreeing to meet unknown 19-year-old kids to talk about a sport that was not very well known in the Midwest? What made this more amazing back then was the campus rumor that Biggie hated lacrosse and was dead-set against MSU ever having a team. The story that circulated was that while Biggie was head football coach at Syracuse (before moving to Michigan State), his star player Jim Brown had split time between lacrosse and football and Biggie hated the game because the best football player in America was not focusing on his primary sport. [NOTE: Brown was All-America in both sports.] The problem with this story is that Biggie coached at Syracuse 1938 – 1944, and joined MSU in 1946. Meanwhile, Jim Brown played at Syracuse many years later, 1954-1956. Ergo, the rumor was bogus, but it is what we were hearing, and there was more than a little trepidation among the boys as they went to see the big man. The lesson in this was that when you have an idea, see it through, and to hell with rumors and myths. Always go to the source. Finns have a word for this attitude: Sisu. It means never, never, never, never quit.  

The meeting request was honored and the group gathered in Biggie’s office. Bill Ferguson remembers the AD resplendent in a white short-sleeve shirt with his name embroidered in fancy blue script. The boys were invited in, seated, and commenced to make the pitch to the man rumored to loathe the game. Surprise: Biggie Munn said he would be pleased to help. He told the boys that he couldn’t give them much monetary support or officially sanction the team as a varsity sport, but he would help as best he could. A man of his word, he picked up the phone right there, called the Amo Bessone, MSU’s long-time hockey coach, and told him to give the lacrosse club the previous season’s Michigan State hockey practice sweaters (hoser lingo for jerseys). As Bud points out, the MSU lacrosse club already had a strong alliance with the university’s ice hockey community and their Canadian beer. Many of the MSU’s Canadian hockey players had played box lacrosse (indoor ice rinks, in summer, without the ice). The similarities in the two games’ intensity no doubt played a role in attracting former hockey players. Irony can be sweet.

  Okay, now that the Biggie myth is cast aside, here’s a little known fact of something very real and this refers to the fact that head football coach Duffy Dougherty was not happy about the advent of lacrosse on campus. Alf Norwood, a weight lifter, roomed with some of the football players, and started getting serious inquiries about the game from some of them. For example, Clint Jones the star running back at the time had visions, we think, of becoming another Jim Brown. So, Bud, Alf Norwood, and Duffy met. The lacrosse boys agreed that Clint Jones and a couple of other gridders could not practice with the club – IF  the lacrosse team could use the football team’s athletic trainers. Dr. Jim Feurig (Head of Olin Health Center, Football Team Head Physician, and the University’s Main Jock Doc) joined the meeting and said he would be happy to help the club, and once again we found another important ally. Because of Dr. Feurig we had x-rays almost on demand and other free medical assistance on the field and all of this kept a lot of us playing with more than a few dents. It should also be noted that Dr. Jim became a lifetime lacrosse supporter. [We should also note here with a tsk-tsk that the deal with Duffy was possibly a violation of other athletes’ civil rights and probably unconstitutional, but who knew? And hey, the statue of limitations has passed. Right? Here’s to dirt in your mouth!]   

Head of MSU Intramurals Becomes Lacrosse Club’s Champion & What a Champion! Following the monumental Munn meeting, there was a second meeting with Dr. Frank Beeman. Following this meeting, Dr. Beeman wrote a letter to Bachrach-Raisin, providing the official MSU blessing, and endorsing the club team.  

Dr. Beeman was one of our earliest and staunchest supporters in the university administration. He got us practice and game facilities across from Case Hall, a locker room in the IM building, and over those early seasons, resolved many small and large issues, including how we would pay our home game referees. He gave the club $400 or $500; we can’t remember how much for sure — but it went into a checking account for that purpose. Bud Schultz, as Secretary Treasurer, kept our books. (Say WHAT? He was an art major or something, right?) Once our first year was concluded, Dr. Beeman stepped forward again with money from his budget to buy the team equipment outright for its second year. Without the support of Biggie Munn, Amo Bessone, Dr. Beeman, and even Duffy and his football training staff, we never would have gotten off the ground; let it be remembered by all MSU laxers, past, present and future, that Frank Beeman was one of us from day one. We can never adequately repay his support and advocacy in our behalf and he serves as a shining example of how one individual can act in behalf of a whole group of people and create a long-reaching effect – in this case approaching half a century. Three young men started this thing, and a few more signed on, some university personnel jump-started it, and many have kept it going all these decades. The whole thing is humbling to think about.


How Our First Season Came to Be Scheduled


Bachrach-Raisin shipped the equipment and all of us can still remember when the huge carton arrived and we ripped it open and doled out helmets and gloves at the dirt arena in the I.M. building, our winter practice facility. It was like Christmas and evidence that the dream was coming to life. We all bought own sticks, shorts, cleats, and (for those of us who were wimpy enough to want them) arm pads.  We also special ordered Spartan-green sweatshirts from the Student Book Store with “Mich State Lacrosse” emblazoned in white letters across the front. We all bought our own. Bud Schulz was working at MSU IMC Graphics at the time and this is where the first green sweats were designed and mocked up, and all of our team photos produced as well. (Some of us still have the greenies, but they seem to have shrunk somewhat from being washed so many times over four –and- a-half decades.)


Scheduling was the next challenge and another group effort. To get the ball rolling, Wags (who favored red p—y shoes in those days) wrote to his old coach at Ohio Wesleyan, Fred Meyers, to ask if we could come down for a formal scrimmage. Myers agreed and a date was set for what would be Michigan State’s first men’s lacrosse game — April 6, 1963. For the Battling Bishops it was just a scrimmage but it was much more than that to us: It was birth.  At this time Dwarf also contacted his old coach, who had moved to Kenyon College, and Bud and Alf Norwood got in touch with their old high school teammate, Larry Bice, the founder/player/coach at BowlingGreen. As Bud points out, it’s nice to have friends. It’s also good to see that the lacrosse boys were into networking before the concept was in vogue. In later years, Dick Shanklin and Dr. Pepper and their friends of the Cleveland Lacrosse Club would help us with further contacts and schedules.


With Coach Meyers’s support, Wags also contacted other schools in the area to schedule more games, and we ended up having six. Only Ohio State in the Big Ten played lacrosse then; Michigan and Purdue were starting to get teams organized that first year, as was Notre Dame, but they did not play intercollegiate until later seasons.


 An Example of How Nick-Names Came to be Earned and Persist for A Half –Century Winter rolled in and our merry band of aspiring laxers practiced in the dirt arena in the IM Building.  One day, a bunch of us were screwing around like 19-year-olds sometimes do, and Chet Grabowski was accidentally struck in the nose with a stick, and it broke, (his nose, not the stick – they were wood, after all). Technically speaking, a fragment of nose tissue ended up in the dirt and someone thoughtfully collected it in a towel and gagged his way over to Olin Health Center with the hope that the spare part could be reattached. We’re not sure it ever was, but as teammates, we tried to take care of Chet, and this is how Chester “Chet” Grabowski became “The Nose,” forever thereafter. This sort of moment, we all also know is how team chemistry begins to happen. Sill is nice, and necessary, but without chemistry — players liking and caring about each other — forget having a team.


Crutch remembers driving his car that winter with Bill Ferguson to Denison University in Granville, Ohio to attend some kind of function. Neither man can remember the actual reason for going, but it must have had some importance because it was an overnight trip, meaning $$, of which few of us had much in plentitude in those days. All that can be remembered is that Bill and Joe stayed at one of Denison player’s fraternity houses and that there was a goal-tending demonstration at the meeting the next day. Maybe we needed to be there to confirm the games that Wags had scheduled? What we remember well was that MSU lacrosse was welcomed with open arms.


Paying Our Own Way: The Purity of Student Athletes In that first season (and for at least the first three seasons), players paid all of their own travel expenses. Guys with cars drove usually with sticks strapped to ski racks on top. As we remember it, we piled into the cars and had just enough room for all of our players to make the trip. This was important to us because we only had about 20 players and needed everyone in order to field a team. We all chipped in for gas and when we had to stay overnight, we bunked in the opposing players’ dorms and /or fraternity houses. Our foes were all hospitable and helpful off the field.  The road trips were great fun and being proud to represent our university, we always wore coats and ties. 


Fun & Games On The Practice Field Our practice field and game field were right behind the football team’s spring practice field. As importantly, it was adjacent to Case Hall. When spring came and the weather warmed up, many Case co-eds would sun- bathe on the lawn and watch us play. Occasionally, (okay, perhaps more than occasionally), one of our shots or passes would be errant and the ball would somehow roll over to the sun-bathers. We were then obligated to run over to that area and retrieve the ball, extending our sincere apologies for the interruption.  (Depending on who was sun-bathing and how hot and sunny it was, there were a whole lot of said interruptions some afternoons.) We had a lot of fun at practice. We even got some real work done.  


Cartoons & the State News The late Phil Frank was one of Dave Wagner’s fraternity brothers, and the very talented and popular cartoonist for the State News. Wags remembers one cartoon in particular: It showed a couple of MSU lacrosse players and a couple of Native Americans. One of the MSU players said to the other “These must be the new recruits.” Phil’s cartoons helped spread the word about the new game and the crazy guys that played it. We were very fortunate to have Phil’s support. Phil became a well-known and successful syndicated cartoonist in later years. He had a 30 -year career with the San Francisco Chronicle, and drew and wrote a comic strip called “Farley.” Farley was his alter ego, a newspaper reporter, and sometime- park ranger. How about that? We even had cartoons about us by a future giant in the newspaper business.
Let the Games Begin: Our Butts Get Kicked In Ohio On the playing field was a bit of a different story to start the season. Spring came and it was time make history and put the newest Spartan show on the road.  Off we went to play our first game at Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware, Ohio. We walked onto the field hoping to use our size (which was atypical of most lacrosse teams of the day) and imagined size and aggression would rough up and disrupt the Battling Bishops. As is said, In practice the theory is different. We got a lesson in humility instead, losing 16 to 2, learning it’s very difficult to hit what you can’t get close to, and that unmerited confidence, as Custer and his lads learned before us, is rarely enough to carry the day.  Nevertheless, history was made: MSU played its first lacrosse game and our first goal and assist were recorded. Joe Sutschek had a great opportunity to record the first MSU goal on a clean breakaway but his shot sailed over the goal and over the end line. Remember, Sutschek had played defense only in high school and this was his first shot ever. He got the ball back on the shot rule and saw cutting to the goal, quickly passed the ball to him, and Wags beat the goalie to record the first goal for MSU. Alas, Sutschek’s assist will forever and a day play second fiddle to Wags’ first goal. [Except, if you think about it, no pass from Joe, no goal for Dave – the chicken and egg thing, right?  Which was more important historically? We shall undoubtedly debate this in coming weeks.] Dave Wagner also got the other goal that day. Here we also might point out, and strictly for the record, that Wags was playing against his former teammates and we wonder if some of them decided to take pity and allow him a couple gimmes for old time’s sake. Neither allegation nor assertion here; call it an idle thought. 

On to Ke,nyon, New Sticks From Windsor, &  Same Game Outcome, But the Gap is Closing


We were scheduled to play Kenyon in Gambier, Ohio the next Saturday. With most of the Spartans new to lacrosse, our team “style” leaned heavily toward exuberant (violent?) wood-chopping and we were a tad hard on our equipment. Mainly we were running short of sticks, which presented a bit of a problem. You didn’t walk down to Grand River or get on the Internet to find sticks in those days.


 But we were creative if nothing else, and one among our multitude determined there was a sporting goods store in Windsor, Canada that sold lacrosse sticks. Thus it came to pass that the intrepid Dwarf, Crutch, John Gaa, and another player (unidentified at this juncture) drove to Detroit on a Friday after class and checked into a real fleabag hotel ($7/night, four to a room, two guys on the mattress, two guys on the box springs, yech!). The delegation arose early to cross into Canada in time to be at the shop when it opened, buy a trove of sticks, pay duty for them at customs, and head to Ohio for the game, arriving about an hour before the face-off. Naturally, Wags was a nervous wreck because the foursome cut it so close to game time.


  The outcome of the game was about the same as the previous week, it wasn’t quite as bad, but again the outcome was never in doubt. The actual score was 11 to 2. Crutch and Don Derfner got our two goals. Joe Heywood remembers that it was a very rainy day and the field was soaked. Perhaps we weren’t “mudders.” (Truth be known, it was difficult enough for most of us to scoop a ground ball off a dry field!) Heywood also remembers that one or two Spartan players stayed in a dorm room with a plaque indicating it had been actor Paul Newman’s pad when he attended Kenyon. It was also clear that something was beginning to gel on the field. Kenyon had jumped to a hefty lead, but we played fairly even with them the rest of the way.

Another Loss, But Our Closest Game Yet, Our First Brawl,

And Chemistry Begins to Tell

 The next game on the schedule was on the campus of Bowling Green State University. Our merry band of laxers piled into our cars and headed down US-23. Joe Sutschek got our first goal, but shortly afterwards was heinously clipped from behind and fractured his leg, which was how he came to be known as “Crutch.” Phil “Doc” Irions took over at the crease and finished the game while Crutch was relegated to spectating and kibitzing from the bench. Bud Schultz, Wags, and Don Derfner each bagged two goals and Doc got one as we lost 11-8. We had lost again, but were more competitive than the previous week. One of our players, we don’t recall who for sure, took umbrage over some perceived outrage in front of the Bowling Green Bench and boys being boys, a rumble commenced. We do not remember the identity of the Spartan who served as the catalyst for this historic event. But a good time was had by all and no permanent injuries incurred on either side. We’re not even sure in retrospect if anyone got the heave-ho, but it was another first for MSU lacrosse: Our first bench-clearing brawl. It should also be noted for the record that this sort of confrontation goes a lot further toward creating team camaraderie and cohesion than just about anything. You want a piece of one Spartan? You get ALL of us. We left Ohio knowing that we were definitely beginning to click and think and act like a team.  Our first three games were in the record books, our first goals had been scored, and our first team mayhem had been experienced; we were piling up the firsts, getting closer to winning, and having a great time in the process. 

 No trainers or doctors traveled with us in that first year, except for Phil “Doc” Irions, (an eye doctor, whose knowledge was only marginally more applicable than a groinacologist). Ergo, we were responsible for getting our own wounded home, and when the game was over, we think Alf Norwood drove Crutch’s car with the casualty and two others players, whose names we can’t remember. The escorts dropped Crutch at Olin Health Center where he got the news the next day from Doctor Jim Feurig (MSU’s Varsity Jock Doc) that the leg was indeed broken and his rookie college season was over. Another first: Our first season-ending injury! We don’t remember what Alf did with Crutch’s car but eventually he got it back in one piece.


 Extended Road Show Over: Man Oh Man, Is It Ever Nice to Come Home The First Spartan Men’s Lacrosse Win Ever Our next three games were all at home, the first one against the Ohio State’s junior varsity, and the Spartans beat up on the Baby Buckeyes, 12 to 1, the Buck-nuts being not so hard to crack. Wayne Pecknold scored 5 goals, Bob Gugler had 4, Bud Schultz had a pair, and Bill “Wolfman” Haeger, the former Lansing hockey player only two weeks into lacrosse, had the other one. Chet “Nose” Grabowski played magnificently, making 22 saves. More history made: first game played on Spartan soil, the team’s first home win, and first win anywhere over anyone!  

Spartans Destroy Falcons in Rematch The next game was a rematch against Bowling Green and Crutch posted a bounty on the guy that broke his leg. But alas, he was disappointed with the result as the Falcons just kept running away from our fearsome ten- some. [Note: Crutch was notoriously cheap at times in those days, and its reasonable to assume that the bounty as too small to attract serious attention. Again, neither assertion nor allegation, just a passing thought.] The Spartans avenged the earlier loss by a score of 13 to 3 as Wayne Pecknold and Doc Irions showed them how the game should be played, each of them scoring 5 goals. Bob Gugler, Bud Schultz and Wags each had one. The Nose was once again a rock between the pipes, making 25 stops.  It continued to be clear to all who cared to look that Michigan State lacrosse was growing, and improving game by game. And while we might have had some trouble hitting opponents early in the season that was finished and the games were becoming extremely physical, start to finish. Everyone who played against MSU went home with a lot of bruises, and it would be this way at least for the first three seasons. 


Season’s Final Game is Milestone  The last game of the season saw Denison University’s junior varsity come to East Lansing to test our mettle, rolling into town with a 12-1 record and an eight-game winning streak. They also found out that Spartan mettle was awfully hard as we upset them, 15 – 8. Wayne Pecknold and Doc each had 5 goals again. Bob Gugler had 3. Alf Norwood and Wags had one apiece. Even though we had beaten Denison’s junior varsity, not the big team, we felt pretty good about it. Ohio State and Denison were the class of Midwest lacrosse back then and we had soundly pounded both J.V. squads.  


Afterglow and Looking To The Future We had a party that night at one of the guy’s apartments. We can’t remember whose place it was, but it was on Grand River Avenue about halfway to downtown Lansing. We remember The Nose hunkered on top of the refrigerator looking down on new arrivals like some sort of snarky creature from Gulliver’s Travels. We don’t know why he sat there. It must have had something to do with the pop he drank that night or the glow from his great season.  The club’s first season was over. We had won three, lost three, broken one nose, one leg, had one bench-emptier, one season-ending injury, gone through a squat-load of sticks and tape, and outscored our opponents 52-50. We all very proud about what we accomplished that year and had a great time doing it. In the first three games we had been outscored 38-12, but in the last three we turned this around 180 degrees, and outscored our opponents 40-12. The future was looking and feeling pretty good for MSU lax. And each and every one us was well aware that everything we did as a team on and off the field would influence the future of the club at Michigan State. All of us, from day one were intent on seeing the game elevated to varsity status and that shared goal drove us forward, not just during the seasons, but in summers where we worked hard to develop and polish skills to come back the next season better than we had been the year before. Dave, Bruce, and Bud started something rolling, Dr. Frank Beeman jump-started it and all of us who played did our best to keep it growing and rolling ahead. 

Games finished and equipment packed away, there was one more extremely important piece of business to take care of before we all headed home for summer: The next season’s game schedule. The scheduling meeting was to take place at Kenyon before school was out. We are not sure how Crutch volunteered, got selected, drafted or whatever to represent us, but he did. And as things sometimes happen to college kids, his car died. Right after class on a Friday, Joe “Crutch” Sutschek hitchhiked alone, on one good leg, a cast, crutches and all to Ohio Wesleyan, where he spent the night with one of their players, rode with Coach Meyers to the meeting the next day and came away with a nine-game schedule for our second season, and Michigan State University as a full-fledged member of the Ohio Valley Lacrosse Conference. To end the day and the season, Crutch unceremoniously and triumphantly hitched his way back to East Lansing, arriving the same day without a single cheer or marching band, but with a future of Michigan State lacrosse on a piece of paper in his pocket.  The men who started lacrosse were never about gathering kudos and attaboys. They were about making things happen, and that’s what they did.


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