Throughout the history of the sport, lacrosse coaches have been pivotal players in the development of young athletes. From high school to college, they have taught the fundamentals, led their squads to championships and so much more. While many of these local heroes go largely unrecognized, there are a few who have received the sport’s ultimate honor, induction into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
4 Legendary Long Island Lacrosse Coaches
Long Island is home to some of the best lacrosse teams around, due in part to the dedication of great coaches. From Sewanhaka High School to C.W. Post, local lacrosse has thrived because of the day-in and day-out effort of coaches like these and many, many more.
William N. Ritch
William N. Ritch was the head lacrosse coach at Sewanhaka High School in Elmont from 1948 to 1960 and again from 1963 to 1978. There, he recorded 362 wins, 60 losses and one tie. From 1948 to 1957, Sewanhaka went undefeated in eight straight seasons. For 11 consecutive years from 1949 to 1959, the high school was crowned Long Island Champions. During that time, the squad won 91 straight games, breaking a national high school record. Ninety-two of his former players received All-American honors.
Ritch was also active in the development of the sport. He served as lacrosse chairman of the South Shore Athletic League, the Nassau County Athletic Association and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. He was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1972.
Joseph A. Cuozzo
Joseph A. Cuozzo began coaching at Ward Melville High School in 1969. During his 37 year tenure, Cuozzo won 699 games. During his coaching career, Ward Melville won eight state championships, 16 Long Island titles and 33 Suffolk County championships. Cuozzo was named Suffolk County Coach of the Year 10 times. He was also the first member of the United States Lacrosse Coaches Association’s 400 Club for winning 400 or more games.
In 1984, Cuozzo received the New York State Coaches Association Honor Award. He was elected to the Long Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1989, he received the Suffolk Man of the Year Award and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Sports Coach of the Year Award. He was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1992.
Bob Hartranft, who has coached Farmingdale High School for nearly 50 years, has won more than 700 games. He ranks third all-time in boy’s high school lacrosse wins and still continues to coach today. His team won the New York state championship in 2011 and was a runner-up in 1978 and 2003. He has won 13 Nassau County championships and made 41 consecutive playoff appearances.
Hartranft was selected as the conference coach of the year 10 times and the Nassau County coach of the year twice. He also led the U.S. Men’s Under-19 National team to the world championship in 1992. Hartranft was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2015.
Jack B. Kaley
Jack B. Kaley coached East Meadow High School from 1968 to 1985. There, he recorded a 227-90 record. During his career, East Meadow won four Nassau County titles and three Long Island championships. In 1985, he was named Nassau County’s Coach of the Year.
In 1993, Kaley was hired to help start a team at New York Institute of Technology. In 16 years there, he won 185 games and lost 33. His 84.9 winning percentage is the best of all NCCAA Division I and Division II head coaches. Kaley’s teams won four national championships (1997, 2003, 2005, 2008). Kaley was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2010.
While these coaches have achieved the game’s highest honor, there are many more unsung heroes who teach lacrosse on Long Island. Do you know a local lacrosse coach who deserves recognition?