Carlisle Boys Youth Lacrosse: History

Carlisle Lacrosse: A Look Back

Olympic hero Jim Thorpe played lacrosse at the Carlisle Indian School.

In 1910, Glenn "Pop" Warner, Athletic Director at the Carlisle Indian School, replaced baseball with lacrosse as the school's Spring sport. Because of the "evils of professional baseball" and the fact that many Carlisle Indian School students had been lured away from school into "temptations and bad company by professional baseball offers," Warner thought it best not to develop an ambition in the students to become professional players. "Athletics at Carlisle" said Mr. Warner, "are here for the students, not the students here for the athletics." Since lacrosse is an Indian game, Warner expected that the natural ability of the Carlisle Indian School students would enable the team to make a credible showing in their first year. In their inaugural campaign, the inexperienced LAX team shook off early losses and finished the year with wins over Baltimore City College, Mount Washington Club of Baltimore and a thrilling 3-2 victory over Navy in their final game. Warner had imported William T. O'Neil of Cornwall, Ontario as coach for the Carlisle Indians. O'Neil was know as one of the best lacrosse coaches to be found in Canada, where the sport is the national game.

Carlisle's schedule expanded in 1911 and included lacrosse powerhouses University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Harvard. The popularity of lacrosse was demonstrated by the crowd of 10,000 fans who saw Carlisle's 5-1 victory over Stevens Institute at Hoboken. Carlisle got its first victory over Johns Hopkins in 1912. Despite 25 years of lacrosse experience at Hopkins, Baltimore newspapers found the Carlisle Indians "far superior...much heavier than the local players and seemed to have unlimited endurance." The Baltimore American reported:

The tactics and tricks used by the visitors (Carlisle) were cunning and beautiful to watch. Their wily body-checking and accurate wary passing was excellent. They dodged frequently and had Hopkins guessing. Their attack and defense both followed the ball and on some occasions they had as many as six men on the ball. This playing in bunches, perhaps, won the game for them. The endurance of Carlisle made it possible for both attack and defense to follow the ball.

O'Neil's team started off 1913 with four straight wins including a 4-3 victory over Cornell. Indeed, Carlisle lacrosse was on the map and remained so until the close of the Indian School in 1918.

The clash of lacrosse sticks was forgotten in Carlisle until 1996 when David Breschi started a Boys' JV lacrosse program at Carlisle High School. An import to Carlisle like Coach O'Neil, Breschi came from the Maryland hotbed of lacrosse, Loyola High School in Towson, and an All-American career at Denison University. Carlisle High School Team's inaugural 1997 Varsity squad was 0-10, but it did not take long for Breschi to instill his strong work ethic and love for the game within the Carlisle players. His 1998 squad finished 13-5 as Mid-Penn and District III Champions. Teams in 1999 and 2000 had records of 9-4 and 8-7 respectively, with Carlisle Lacrosse gaining preeminence in 2001 and 2002 with records of 18-2 and 21-2, again claiming Mid-Penn and District III Championships each year. Carlisle hit the lacrosse map in 2002 with a thrilling overtime victory over LaSalle Academy of Philadelphia in the State Playoffs. Like O'Neil, Breschi is well respected by his peers and gained Co-Coach of the Year from the Pennsylvania State Lacrosse Association in 2002. Similar to Pop Warner, Breschi embraces the philosophy that his players are students first as he implements a positive approach designed to reward the qualities of hard work, sacrifice and teamwork.

In 2006, Breschi stepped down as head coach at Carlisle High School in order to help grow the Carlisle Boys Youth Program, which is recognized as the feeder program for the high school. Steve Kidder, a career military officer with lacrosse experience from West Point and long-time assistant coach to Breschi, became the new high school head coach.  After four years helping to build the youth program, Breschi and Kidder were reunited at the high school level.

Today, Carlisle is considered one of the top boys lacrosse programs in Central Pennsylvania.

Carlisle Indian School laid the foundation for a tradition of quality lacrosse in Carlisle, and the Thundering Herd of Carlisle High School proudly continues the tradition.