The University of Hartford community was devastated to learn that former lacrosse coach, Jack McGetrick lost his two-year battle with cancer on Saturday, Oct. 9.
Even in the somber aftermath of McGetrick’s death, his legacy is very much alive and well.
In eight of the total 11 seasons that McGetrick coached the Hawks’, his team achieved a .500 season record or better.
His hard work, dedication and excellence as a coach made McGetrick the most successful Division-I lacrosse coach at the University of Hartford to date.
McGetrick coached his team to amass 87 victories, become competitive contenders winning America East titles and even earning Hartford a national ranking in 1997.
The extraordinary achievements of McGetrick earned him the prestigious honor of being named as the 1997 NCAA Coach of the Year.
McGetrick left the University of Hartford in 2004 when he became the head coach at Bellamarine University in Louisville, KY.
Current head coach for the men’s lacrosse team, Peter Lawrence, never got to know McGetrick but the countless stories from alumni who played for McGetrick and veteran faculty members, Lawrence was painted a crystal clear picture.
“I only knew Jack as a coach of another team, but I have heard a lot of stories about what he was like as a coach from the alumni and I just think he was a man of great character, a good family man,” Lawrence said.
Coach Lawrence immortalized the iconic legacy and character of his predecessor when he renamed the Hawks’ coveted “Blood and Guts” award as the “Jack McGetrick” award last year.
“I think his legacy is success on the lacrosse field, he is the most successful coach in lacrosse history at the University of Hartford,” Lawrence said, “in terms of what Jack stood for, a strong work ethic.”
The “Jack McGetrick” award was given to Michael Cudmore in its inaugural dedication last year, the plaque reads “given on annual basis to the player who exemplifies perseverance, dedication, sacrifice and unyielding performance. This individual never asks for anything, but gives everything of themselves,” according to Hartford Sports Information.
McGetrick coached, worked, and lived his life in accordance with the award that was named in his honor.
“What’s most admirable about Jack is that he was a full-time P.E. teacher in Somers, CT, and coaching was just a part-time job for him,” Lawrence said. “He was a one-man-show for 11 years and you don’t find that too often at the division-I level, obviously he was a very dedicated coach.”
Coach Lawrence and senior captain Tim Fallon have been doing their part to maintain the hardworking legacy of McGetrick and drive to go above and beyond what is expected to guarantee success for Hartford lacrosse. Recently, Lawrence and Fallon have increased the philanthropic efforts of the lacrosse team, giving back to the community.
Ironically, the team participated in the Catamount Classic Lacrosse tournament where they raised money to benefit the Dana-Farber Institute and testicular cancer research. The Hawks’ went 3-0 in the Catamount Classic, with the initials “JM” featured on their helmets to honor the life of Jack McGetrick who died from cancer the day prior to the tournament on Oct. 10.
Fallon and his teammates went above and beyond for the Catamount Classic with the “Stache for Cash” fundraising initiative, despite the fact that they were not asked to fundraise for the tournament, as the majority of money raised comes from ticket sales to watch the lacrosse games.
“The ‘Stache for Cash’ thing was our own little spin on it, we were the only team that fundraised on our own which was actually pretty nice,” Fallon said.
According to Fallon, the lacrosse team has begun to take on more cancer-related community service opportunities because “we have Coach McGetrick who was struggling with cancer for two-years, and then we have a young kid, Cam Greenwood that lives in the area,” Fallon continued, “he’s 10 years old and we’ve kind of taken him under our wing, we go to visit him at the hospital and he comes to games, he was at the Catamount Classic.”
The lacrosse team is currently working with the Bloomfield Raiders to launch a zero-cost youth lacrosse program in Bloomfield, the Hawks’ have already held two clinics since the beginning of the semester and are looking forward to the continued development of the program.
“We’ve always done a lot of little things to help out the community,” said Lawrence, “I think just last year we decided to step it up a little bit more, and I think this year we are trying to do even more.”
Members of the men’s lacrosse team also volunteer on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to work at the “Bread House” soup kitchen in Hartford, Lawrence is changing the perception that community service is a punishment.
“I think community service makes the guys on the team realize how fortunate their situation is, it puts things into perspective….We don’t use community service as a punishment, we want guys to see the benefits in giving back, that it is important.”
With program leaders like Coach Lawrence and Tim Fallon, the hard work ethic, philanthropic values, and relentless pursuit of success will continue indefinitely – following in the footsteps of McGetrick whose legacy will never die.