COAST GUARD ACADEMY LACROSSE FAMILY REUNITES AFTER DECADES APART
By: Sean M. Cross
Updated: 03/24/2010 at 12:58 PM
Annapolis, MD – Sunday, March 7th, 2010 was a great day for the Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse program, but it had nothing to do with a Championship, a win, a coveted new recruit or a spectacular play. It had to do with a family reunion. After 21 long years of separation, the Senyard Family was reunited with the Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse family.
John Senyard was one of the key figures in the founding of the Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse team. A member of the Coast Guard Academy Class of 1983, John was a Baltimore kid that grew up with an intense love for the game of lacrosse. As a cadet, John was often seen roaming the decks of Bravo Company in Chase Hall (the cadet barracks) with a lacrosse stick in hand. He attempted on several occasions to start a Men’s Lacrosse team without success.
However, his persistence and example to junior cadets sparked the launch of the Men’s Lacrosse team during the spring following his graduation. One of those junior cadets, Charlie Turner, CGA ‘86, remarked “I’m convinced that the Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse program would never have come to fruition without John Senyard. We underclassmen were emboldened by a small, but loyal group of seniors who kept playing lacrosse because of John”. All information pointed to the fact that John Senyard was the spark that started the lacrosse team – John Senyard was the “Father of Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse”.
Unfortunately, LT Senyard was not able to witness the Men’s Lacrosse team grow into the highly competitive team that exists today. He was killed in an aircraft accident in Ilhithi, Kenya in 1989 along with his classmate LT Anthony Czapowskyj. Following his untimely death in 1989, LT Senyard’s parents started the LT John M. Senyard Lacrosse Endowment that has been the life blood of Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse since 1989. Unfortunately, that’s where the connection faded and was feared lost.
In 2008, the Coast Guard Academy celebrated 25 years of lacrosse and embarked on a project to understand and document the past in order to chart the team’s future course to success. Many Bears lacrosse players past and present knew there was a Lacrosse Endowment, but very few knew it was the LT JOHN M. SENYARD LACROSSE ENDOWMENT – let alone who John Senyard was.
To start, the team contacted several of John’s classmates and scoured the Class of ‘83 yearbook for references, but not much information was available. Google searches revealed only that there was an end-of-season lacrosse team award given out by the St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco, CA called the John M. Senyard Award. Why? What was the connection?
Little by little, members of the “Old Bears” Lacrosse Network, an informal group of former players, coaches and friends of the Coast Guard Lacrosse Program, were able to piece together the puzzle of John Senyard’s life. John served aboard USCGC Alert (WMEC-630) homeported in Cape May, New Jersey from 1983-84 and the Electronics Engineering Center (EECEN), Wildwood, New Jersey, from 1984-85. He attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., from 1985-87 where he earned a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. He reported to Maintenance and Logistics Command – Pacific (MCLPAC) in 1987 where he met California Lacrosse Hall of Fame Coach Stockton Buck and started as a volunteer Assistant Coach for the St. Ignatius College Preparatory program in nearby San Francisco for the 1988 and 1989 seasons. Coach Buck recently contacted the “Old Bears”, remarking, “Needless to say, he was greatly admired and respected and his death was a tragic blow to all of us. In reviewing this material, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 20+ years since he died; it all seems like just yesterday.”
Although the “Old Bears” were excited to finally have a timeline of John’s Coast Guard career, they still couldn’t find any surviving members of the Senyard family. After two and a half years of tracking down leads, making phone calls and writing letters that were often sent back marked “return to sender”, John’s sister, Melissa, contacted a CGA alumnus on Facebook to inquire about all the information about her brother on the Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse website. Specifically, she noted the LT John M. Senyard Endowment Challenge – a major fund raising effort for 2010 intended to raise the Endowment financial assets to a goal of $25,000.
Soon emails and phone calls were being exchanged between various alumni, current players and members of the Senyard Family – culminating in John’s mother and sister, Mrs. Pat Graham and Mrs. Melissa Schlee, attending the Bear’s Spring Break double-header at the Naval Academy against club teams from Navy and University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC).
Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Schlee had a great time meeting coaches and former players, watching warm-ups and talking to current cadets about John’s legacy. They were pleased to see that the team had decided to honor John by adorning the new game jerseys with the Class of ‘83 crest and JMS on the right sleeve. Mrs. Graham was particularly interested in meeting whatever player was wearing jersey number four because that was John’s number on the Monterey Lacrosse Club. Ironically enough, another Baltimore-native, Cadet 2/c Matt Chase, has worn the number four jersey for the last few years – in fact, there have been several Maryland natives that have worn the number four jersey over the years. Mrs. Graham stated that she was “glad that the Coast Guard Academy had not retired John’s number, that way he could still be on the field playing.”
This article and photo appeared on the front page of www.collegelax.us the week of March 11, 2010.
Team E-Store closed
05 December 2012
Follow our Facebook
page for more gear
in the Fall of 2013