A History of the Denison Lacrosse Program

Denison has had at least one All-American in 58 of its 61 seasons and 109 in all. With an overall record of 575-244-3 and a winning percentage of 69.95%, the Big Red clearly ranks among the best programs in Division III.

The longstanding tradition of excellence has not been by accident. As was true with Rix Yard, Tommy Thomsen and others, Caravana's contribution goes beyond wins and losses. All have been educators first and then coaches. Their common approach involved teaching young men to be better than they were the day before, on and off the field, and they were as committed to making their players good men as being good players. They not only imparted their knowledge of the game to their players but also incorporated evolving trends into playing strategies. As important, they were committed to lacrosse as a part of an overall educational experience, one which served as the foundation of each player's life.

The Denison Lacrosse Alumni

Early last season, with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter against Haverford, Denison freshman Blair Farinholt ripped a shot past the Fords' goalie to tie the game, 9-9. The goal came just 50 seconds after a late Haverford score threatened to hand Denison a tough loss. It wasn't until senior Eddie Vita scored in the third overtime that the Big Red won the game.

When his shot hit the back of the net, a modest cheer rose from the crowd in Haverford, Pa. The source: a throng of dedicated Denison lacrosse alumni who made the trip to watch the program they still feel connected to.

"We had probably 20 different alumni back from classes dating back from the early 80s to this year," said Smith. "We like to keep the alumni as involved as possible, and it's a big part of who we are."

Crowds of alumni, like the one at Haverford, are not uncommon for Big Red lacrosse games thanks to the Denison Lacrosse Alumni (DLA). Founded by Steve Nazaruk '73 and chaired by Kurt Federer '05, the DLA keeps alumni, varsity players, parents and friends of the program up to date with regular e-mails and a web site (www.denisonlacrosse.org) that features stories about the varsity program, profiles of alumni and varsity players, archived photos, fund-raising activities and links to information about the current Big Red team. It's also highly active in helping varsity players network with alumni for summer internships and jobs. The association has nearly 400 members representing 25 states plus Washington, DC.

The DLA was sparked in 1999, when Tom Maddux '82 set up a hospitality tent at the World Games at Johns Hopkins University. "Tommy and Anne [Thomsen] were there and a bunch of us were talking about how much we missed playing," said Nazaruk. "We decided it might be a good idea to get an alumni team together to try to play at one of the summer tournaments for guys who were over 40."

The Big Red alumni went to Lake Placid, NY that year, finishing fourth in the Grand Masters division. The experience of that first tournament led Nazaruk and the rest of the alumni to return. Denison has had at least one team, and as many as three, play in the tournament every year since 1999. Along the way and in an effort to do more to bring alumni together, DLA was officially founded in 2004.

"The fundamental driver in this was, and continues to be, to give back to the program that helped so many of us achieve the successes and deep friendships we have. We're all very grateful to have had the opportunity to play there and we want every current player to understand Denison's tradition of excellence and how special the program is," said Nazaruk.

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