HUNT VALLEY, Md. – Four of the most recognizable names over the past 30 years of men’s lacrosse were formally inducted as the newest male members of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Saturday evening at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley.
The four players – Roy Colsey, Brian Dougherty, Jesse Hubbard and Tim Nelson – have achieved unparalleled individual and team successes at the collegiate, professional and international levels during their careers. All were inducted as “truly great players.”
The class of 2012 was officially welcomed during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a black-tie optional celebration sponsored by Bollinger Insurance and the Markel Insurance Company.
Each of the inductees was introduced by a short video that summarized many of their career highlights and included comments from a presenter. Following that introduction, each inductee had the opportunity to address the gathering of current Hall of Fame members and the several hundred additional friends, family and lacrosse supporters who gathered for the event.
Colsey, a product of Yorktown, N.Y., already knew success before arriving at Syracuse University in 1992, having won two high school state championships. He then became a four-time All-American with the Orange, with first team honors during his last three years. Colsey helped lead Syracuse to the national championship in 1993 and 1995, and was also recognized as the national midfielder of the year as a senior.
Roy Simmons, Jr., who coached Colsey at Syracuse, served as his presenter.
“When he decided to come to Syracuse I was as happy as I could be,” said Simmons, Jr., before adding coyly “you know, he’s got a wonderful first name. He was everything that any coach would want. Mediocrity is not in his language.”
Colsey played nine seasons (2000-2008) professionally in Major League Lacrosse and earned all-star honors four times. He was the MLL’s Championship MVP in 2006 and finished his career as the MLL’s career leader in 2-point goals, a mark he held until this past season. He also played on the international stage as a member of the 2006 U.S. Men’s National Team.
“For me, this is a tremendous pat on the back and an embrace from the entire lacrosse community,” Colsey said. “They are saying we appreciate all your hard work and dedication to the game.
“I’m humbled beyond words and honored beyond imagination.”
Dougherty is universally recognized as one of the top goalies of the past 20 years. He was a two-time first-team All-American at the University of Maryland and was a two-time recipient of the national goalie of the year award. Dougherty was also selected as the nation’s outstanding player in 1995. That season, fueled by a memorable final four performance, he became one of the few players in NCAA history to be named tournament MVP while playing on the non-championship winning team.
Brian’s father, Dan Dougherty, attended the majority of his son’s games through the years and served as his presenter.
“The worst thing in life is to be a goalie, whether in hockey or lacrosse,” the elder Dougherty explained. “The second worst thing is to be a goalie’s parents. It drove me nuts that so much tension was focused on the goalie.”
Tension never seemed to bother “Doc”, who played nine professional seasons in Major League Lacrosse, earning all-star honors six times and the MLL’s Goalie of the Year award three times. He also won world championships in 1998 and 2010 as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team. As he noted in his induction speech, that last world championship in 2010 proved to be a fitting final chapter to his playing career.
“Reflecting back on all the great things that lacrosse has given me and on all the people who gave me my opportunity…it means a lot,” said Dougherty, now in his third season as head coach at Division II Chestnut Hill College. “And it means other people recognized me for the things I did. That’s a humbling and awesome honor. It’s been an incredible journey.”
Hubbard, from Washington, D.C., was a three-time All-American at Princeton University and was instrumental in establishing the Tigers’ dynasty of the 1990s. He helped lead Princeton to three straight NCAA national championships (1996, 1997, 1998) and four consecutive Ivy League titles during his career. After starting as a midfielder at Princeton, he moved to attack as a sophomore and became part of one of the best attack lines in college history.
His teammate and line mate, Jon Hess, served as presenter for Hubbard.
“Early in our freshman year, we were all shooting around together – myself and Jesse and Chris Massey and a lot of the other freshmen,” Hess explained, “and Jesse took one shot and we all kind of looked at each other and said ‘wow, this guy is the real deal. This is going to be a fun four years.’ Jesse made it cool to love lacrosse.”
Following college, Hubbard became one of the fixtures in the emerging MLL, playing in the league for eight years and earning six all-star nods. Recognized as one of the game’s best shooters, he led the league in scoring three times, and continues to rank as the MLL’s second all-time scorer with 247 goals. He was also a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Men’s National Team in 1998.
“You play lacrosse for the fun, the camaraderie, to score goals,” Hubbard said. “Maybe you play to become an All-American, or to play professional lacrosse, but nobody plays lacrosse to become a Hall of Famer. It’s beyond comprehension. I’m in such rarified company with these other inductees tonight. This is a pretty special class.”
Tim Nelson, who like Colsey is also a native of Yorktown, N.Y., is credited as being one of the foundational building blocks that helped establish Syracuse’s dominance in the collegiate ranks. Nelson was a three-time first-team All-American (1983, 1984, 1985) for the Orange after transferring from North Carolina State University following his freshman season, and also won the national attackman of the year award in each of those seasons. His efforts helped lead Syracuse to its first NCAA national championship in 1983.
Nelson’s friend and former Syracuse teammate Derek Maltz served as his presenter.
“He had probably the best field awareness and vision in the history of the game,” Maltz said. “He could see plays developing when we were on the defensive side of the field. He knew how to get the cutter the ball.”
As evidence to those words, Nelson established new Syracuse records for game, season and career assists. His career total of 221 assists remains as the current NCAA Division I record, and his 320 career points is still third best on the all-time Division I charts.
“I know I’m being inducted as a truly great player, but my thoughts are that I’m going in as a good player that played with a lot of great players,” said Nelson, who now serves as the assistant vice president of advancement at Utica College. “I was just pretty much in the right place at the right time.”
Nelson was quick to give credit for his honor to those he played alongside through the years.
“My coaches and teammates gave me more assists than I ever game them,” Nelson said. “I’m sure there’s nobody in the Hall of Fame who relied on his teammates more than I did.”
The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a program of US Lacrosse, was established in 1957 to honor men and women who by their deeds as players, coaches, officials and/or contributors, and by the example of their lives, personify the great contribution of lacrosse to our way of life. More than 370 lacrosse greats are honored in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, which is located with the Lacrosse Museum at US Lacrosse Headquarters in Baltimore.
Check back to LaxMagazine.com for video presentations on each of the eight 2012 Hall of Fame inductees.