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Lacrosse's legacy and future
W. Brooke Tunstall..Inside Lacrosse - 7/5/2007
 
Brooke was a three-time first-team All-American, won the Jack Turnbull trophy as the outstanding attackman in the nation, the Turnbull/Reynolds Award twice, the Erlanger Cup, and was named to the Johns Hopkins All-Time Team and the Mt. Washington Club All-Time Team. He was elected to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1977.
 
Let me lay my cards right on the table by revealing what lacrosse means to me.  In my boyhood years, I was fortunate enough to serve as waterboy for the great Mt. Washington Lacrosse team in Baltimore, a team composed of many of the heroes of the 1932 Olympic team. I was deeply impressed to observe firsthand the standards of sportsmanship and integrity evident in those outstanding players. I went on to experience an even greater stroke of good fortune, an opportunity to be part of the Johns Hopkins team of the late 1940s, a team that consisted of returning World War II vets mixed with high school kids from Baltimore and was coached by the great Howdy Myers.
 
A history-making combination.  The team was undefeated from the years 1947 to 1950, winning every college game four years in a row, producing a significant number of All-Americans, and earning Coach Myers the title of Coach of the Century by some. A number of those All-Americans became distinguished coaches on their own after graduation. It's arguable that no Division 1 team in any collegiate sport has surpassed this record.
 
Mind you, this was accomplished without super-heroes.  There were no attack stars like Jack Turnbull or Jim Lewis or Jim Brown, no Gates or Powell brothers, all of whom led their teams to national championships.

What made it happen began with the skillful leadership of a coach who developed a mutual trust with his players, who expected their self-discipline, and who was always instructive - never demeaning. This style inspired an aura of teamwork, in the deepest sense of the word:  the ability of every player to place the interest of the team above his own personal interest.  It was an attackman's willingness to make that last pass to a teammate who had a better shooting angle.  It was a defenseman's decision to slide early, to pick up that opposing attacker who had somehow gotten by a teammate.  Teamwork, not personal glory, was our unwritten principle.  And it took us a very long way and created a strong, unified bond among the players. This kind of unselfish play is the sine qua non for winning games and creating lasting friendships. Perhaps because of lacrosse's long, rich history of fair play and sportsmanship, the game provides more fertile ground for establishing a unifying bond with all those who play, watch and love the game. What is interesting to observe is that this bond transcends cliques of age, gender, level of play and region without a hint of rank or order.  It is truly both universal and democratic in nature. Bearing witness to the unifying aspect of lacrosse is the impressive fact that the 1947-50 Johns Hopkins team mentioned above has held a reunion every year since graduation, a total of 56 years. We gather with wives to reminisce, catch up with each other's lives and celebrate our still close relationships. Unifying indeed.
 
To add icing on the lacrosse cake, ask most players why they like to play the game and they will tell you they prefer the game because it is fun to play. The great Jim Brown of Syracuse who was elected to both the Football and Lacrosse Hall of Fame confessed that on Saturdays, he preferred football (there were big crowds) but during the week he enjoyed lacrosse practices more because they were more fun!
 
Every lacrosse player who grew up with the game will know exactly what I mean.  And I will venture to guess that for many, as for me, that ethos of teamwork and sportsmanship became an essential and treasured code of conduct for life beyond the game of lacrosse. To that end, I've drafted a Lacrosse Players Code of Conduct, not set in stone, but a document which may help players, coaches, administrators and spectators all experience this game as the inspirational force it has been for so many players for so many years.  I view this as a framework for discussion that coaches can use to engage and define their teams priorities as they practice and prepare to take the field. And I would be more than gratified if this code or a version of it found its way to a few lacrosse locker room walls in the years to come. 

 
LACROSSE PLAYERS CODE OF CONDUCT

This Code is based on the premise that:

The long, rich history of sportsmanship and fair play unique to the game of  lacrosse throughout its history and the love and commitment both current and past players have felt for the game deserve to be nurtured and preserved...

It is hoped that this Code, represented as a list of shared values, can be useful to lacrosse programs including grade schools, high and private prep schools, colleges, professional leagues, club teams and by players themselves as guidelines for lacrosse players on and off the field.

#1 BE TRUSTWORTHY 
Act at all times with integrity, honesty, loyalty and commitment.

#2 HONOR THE GAME OF LACROSSE
Know and honor its history, its uniqueness and its rules, both in letter and in spirit.

#3 RESPECT LACROSSE AUTHORITIES
Behave respectfully towards coaches, referees, school administrators and staffs.

#4 PRACTICE UNSELFISHNESS
Place the interest of the team above one's own personal interest.

#5 BE A WORTHY ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNGER PLAYERS
Set an example for younger players to imitate and emulate.

#6 STRIVE TO IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE GAME
Cultivate self-discipline in pursuing mastery of the skills and knowledge demanded by the game.

#7 CONTROL YOUR LANGUAGE AND BEHAVOIR ON AND OFF THE FIELD    
Remember that profanity, obscene gestures and demeaning behavior diminish not only the player's own image but the team's character and the reputation of the game of lacrosse.

#8 MAKE YOUR ACADEMIC PURSUITS YOUR HIGHEST PRIORITY
Consider yourself a student-athlete, in that order. It is a priority that will serve you well for many years after college.

#9 OBSERVE STRICT TRAINING RULES 
Lacrosse offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the experience of being in top physical condition. Combined with balanced diet, good sleep regimens the strict avoidance of alcohol or substance abuse, this results in top performance on the field.

#10 BE A GOOD CITIZEN IN THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITY 
Support of and participation in local community redounds to the advantage of the team's reputation and the community's support of the lacrosse program.