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Throwback Thursday: The Original No. 22

Jimmy Lewis is, in my humble opinion, the greatest lacrosse player I know of. I had the luck and honor of being coached by his brother, John Lewis (an Adelphi legend himself) back in high school, so I may be perpetually biased when it comes to holding the Lewis family in such high regard. Thanks to Breakaway Lacrosse NY for putting the photo up on Facebook to get us inspired!

Lewis scored 169 points for Navy between 1964 and 1966. He was a three-time All American, and three time Turnbull Award winner, as the nation’s best attackman. Navy won the USILA title in 1964, 1965, and 1966, and finished the 1965 season with a perfect 12-0 record. Lewis would have been a four-year star, but back then freshman were not allowed to compete on varsity teams.

Lewis was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1981, and off the field, Lewis was a Top Gun flight school graduate, Naval Award winner, and fighter pilot. Lewis also led the Navy soccer team to their only national title ever with the only goal of the 1964 title game against Michigan State. He once scored 21 points in a high school lacrosse game for Uniondale HS on Long Island.

Lewis was obviously a stellar lacrosse player, but he was also a great soccer player, and a man of service. I got the chance to meet him a couple of times, and he was always humble, happy to be out on a field watching lacrosse, and willing to offer up advice to those who would ask.

Here is a story I remember John telling me back in high school:

Jimmy and John would drive up to the stick maker’s shops during breaks to select sticks for the team, and more importantly, for themselves. They would pour over the wooden sticks, and look for a couple with good balance. Since each stick was a little different, they took their time. John said the two of them would drive back with as many as 30 or 40 sticks sometimes, after having looked at hundreds, and that players of today were lucky that they didn’t have to do all that work, but that they also may have missed out on a unique experience, and a way to connect them to the game.

The worst thing you could do was wait to be handed a stick. It was almost guaranteed to be slightly off center or warped. Picking out the best ones was the way to go.

If you want to learn more about Lewis (and I recommend that you do!), check out the book The Spirit in the Stick.