We know why the month of May is so vital to lacrosse fans across the country and why Memorial Day is so fantastic. For young fans, it signifies the unofficial start to summer, and for lacrosse fans, it allows us to convene in one location and celebrate the best our sport has to offer on both the men’s and women’s sides. This year feels a little different, and it feels that way for a particular reason. For those old enough to remember, it feels like 2004 all over again when Navy had its magical run to the national championship game stopped by Syracuse and the Mikey Powell. This sport has many traditions, many of which tie back to our service academies. This past weekend we saw Army take on Penn State in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament for an opportunity to go to Championship Weekend and play on the biggest stage college lacrosse has to offer. While we didn’t see Army pull out the victory against the Nittany Lions, we were treated to a phenomenal game that saw West Point fight through the final whistle. Lacrosse and our service academies have a long-standing history that goes back a century. With Memorial Day right around the corner, it’s important to honor our service academies not just for what they do from a lacrosse standpoint but for all they do for us off the field. With Army and Navy Lacrosse having success both on the Men’s and Women’s sides, it’s not too farfetched to think that we will see a service academy playing on Memorial Day soon. Air Force has also strung together some great seasons recently as well. There are many reasons to want to see this happen, but here are just a few.
Honor and Remembrance
Memorial Day is a solemn and significant day in the United States, dedicated to honoring and remembering the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces. Our service academies represent the highest ideals of service and sacrifice. Having them playing on Memorial Day would symbolize their commitment to duty and pay tribute to fallen soldiers.
West Point and Annapolis have a long-standing tradition of excellence in military education and athletics. Both programs have a rich history and have produced outstanding players and teams. Their participation in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament on Memorial Day would showcase their athletic prowess and highlight the dedication and discipline of their student-athletes.
The NCAA Lacrosse Tournament, particularly the championship game, receives significant national attention. It is televised nationally and draws a large audience of lacrosse fans. Having the Army Men’s Lacrosse program compete on Memorial Day would provide increased visibility and exposure for the academies, their lacrosse programs, and the principles they represent. It could be a platform to share the story and values with a broader audience. This was a massive aspect of the 2004 game, where the lives of the Navy Midshipmen were broadcast in millions of peoples living rooms and became the sentimental favorite to win it all.
Uniting Military and Lacrosse Communities
Lacrosse is strongly connected to military culture and history, particularly in the United States. The sport’s origins are deeply rooted in Native American traditions, where it was played as a training exercise for warriors. Bringing them to the forefront of the NCAA Tournament on Memorial Day would help forge a connection between the lacrosse and military communities, fostering mutual respect and understanding. You saw it this past week with all the attention West Point was receiving, and the Division 1 Player of the Year Award is named after Lt. Ray Enners, an Army veteran killed in action in Vietnam.
Inspirational Role Models
These student-athletes serve as role models for aspiring leaders and athletes nationwide. Seeing them compete on Memorial Day could inspire young athletes to strive for excellence, develop strong character, and embody the values of selfless service and sacrifice. With Army Men’s Lacrosse, it always seems that they are working for something bigger than themselves, which is truly inspiring.
While having Army play on Memorial Day weekend would have been amazing, we saw how special a place like West Point is. Memorial Day and the Final Four symbolize the intersection of sports and military values while honoring the sacrifice of fallen soldiers. This has been one of the most significant seasons in the academy’s history as it saw an incredible run by the men’s team and the West Point women make their first NCAA Tournament. West Point is a special place, as are all of our service academics, and it is exceptional on the lacrosse side because of the coaches in those programs. Michelle Tumolo is building a special program on the women’s side, while Joe Alberici has returned the men’s program to national prominence. When you hear Coach Alberici speak, it’s not hard to figure out why his players love him and why they are having the success they are having. This isn’t going to be a one-off for these programs either. Expect to see both programs and the Naval Academy teams continue to break barriers and put the rest of the NCAA on notice.