When Roy Colsey played for the Syracuse University men’s lacrosse team back in the early 1990s, he and his teammates went to the sport’s national Hall of Fame in Maryland while in the area for a game against Johns Hopkins.
In late October, Colsey was back again. Only this time for a more meaningful reason.
Colsey, a Ridgefield resident and head coach of the Ridgefield High boys lacrosse team, was part of the eight-person 2012 class being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I remember visiting when I was playing for Syracuse and not thinking for one moment that it was a place I would someday be inducted into,” said Colsey. “That wasn’t even a remote thought. Not for one second.”
But following a playing career that included two state championships at Yorktown (N.Y.) High School, two national titles and four All-American selections at Syracuse, nine seasons and four All-Star honors in Major League Lacrosse, and inclusion on the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2006, it was the Hall of Fame selection committee that needed to expend little thought when choosing Colsey.
“The nice thing is that now it exists somewhere,” said Colsey about his induction. “My kids and grandkids can one day go and see the plaque. That is the biggest honor for me.”
Growing up in Yorktown, Colsey played several sports besides lacrosse. And when he didn’t make the Yorktown High freshman team while in eighth grade, he thought about quitting the sport.
“That was probably the critical moment,” said Colsey. “I had to make a decision.”
His choice was to persevere. With added incentive.
“I worked very hard to improve,” he said. “Getting cut served as motivation and I dedicated myself to become a better player.”
Despite a productive, accolade-laden career at Yorktown, Colsey was still unsure how he would fare at Syracuse, a perennial national lacrosse power.
“I had a full scholarship, but I still didn’t know if I would succeed,” he said. “It wasn’t like today, where the high school kids are ranked and kind of know where they stand. I had no idea whether I would be a good college player or not.”
At the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, former Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr. presented Colsey.
“When he (Colsey) decided to come to Syracuse I was as happy as I could be,” said Simmons. “He was everything that any coach would want. Mediocrity is not in his language.”
Colsey, who in addition to coaching RHS is a director of the Ridgefield-based Superstar Lacrosse program and a physical education teacher at Robert E. Bell Middle School in Chappaqua, N.Y., said preparing his own speech was the most nerve-racking part of the induction ceremonies.
“You want to make sure you thank all the people who helped you along the way,” he said. “But you also don’t want to ramble on and bore people. It took me a while to come up with a speech I felt good about.”
The thank-yous went out to his wife, Christine, and three young sons, as well as former coaches and teammates. But Colsey also found time to reflect on the sport’s role in his life.
“The game of lacrosse has given me more than I could possibly have imagined,” said Colsey. “My closest friends, greatest honors and favorite memories have come as a direct result of playing this game. The game of lacrosse has taught me more than I would ever have thought possible. I have learned the values of hard work, dedication and commitment.”
The last line was fitting: Those were the values that led to Colsey back to the Hall, not just for a visit but to stay.