May 2, 2010

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Grant Headlines JuCo Hall of Fame Inductees

from press release

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association will induct five new members into its Hall of Fame on Friday, May 7, as part of the NJCAA Men’s Invitational Lacrosse Championship Weekend. Steve Caravana, John Grant, Jr., Richard O’Leary, Travis Solomon, and Rory Whipple will be inducted during the NJCAA Tournament Banquet at the Radisson Inn in Utica at 7 p.m.

“We are thrilled to pay tribute to these five men,” said Bob Leary, NJCAA Lacrosse Coaches Association President. “The accomplishments of these stellar NJCAA alumni underscore how vital junior college lacrosse has been for so long.”

Steve Caravana was a two-time, first-team NJCAA All-American midfielder at Nassau Community College and was unanimously selected as the Most Valuable Player in the first NJCAA championship tournament. He scored four goals in the championship game, including three during a span of 90-seconds to break open a close game, enabling Nassau to defeat Farmingdale to win the first of its 21 national titles. During Caravana’s two years at Nassau, the Lions built a 31-1 record that included a 29-game winning streak and two national titles. Caravana was twice named to the NJCAA all-tournament team and twice named to the Region XV all-star team. Caravana was an all-Nassau County player at Sewanhaka High School and following an illustrious career at Nassau, received a full scholarship to the University of Maryland where his career was short-circuited by a series of injuries. Caravana’s involvement in lacrosse continued after his college years. He served as a volunteer coach at Guilderland High School in New York and was a major figure in the development of the Ashburn, Virginia youth program. After his untimely death at the age of 55, a scholarship in his name was initiated in Ashburn, recognizing his tireless work on behalf of the youngsters in that town.

A current team member of Team Canada, John Grant, Jr., is considered one of the most decorated and accomplished lacrosse players in the world. Grant began his lacrosse career playing box lacrosse in Canada where his father was a four-time member of Canadian National team. Grant was drafted by the Buffalo Bandits in 1995, but was never signed, opting instead to attend college at SUNY Morrisville. He re-entered the draft four years later, was picked up by the Rochester Knighthawks in 1999, and was named NLL Rookie of the Year for the 2000 season. Grant played for the Rochester Rattlers in their inaugural season in 2001, and finished second in the league. He was also named an MLL All-Star and earned league Offensive Player of the Year honors. After not playing in the league from 2002 through 2004, he returned to the Rattlers for the 2005 season. In 2007, Grant broke the league’s single-season points record with 71 points, was named Offensive Player of the Year for the second time, and was awarded the Major League Lacrosse MVP Award. In 2008, Grant led the league in scoring and was named the 2008 Bud Light Major League Lacrosse Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row. Grant and the Rattlers went on to win the MLL Championship in 2008 with a 16-6 defeat of Denver. Internationally, Grant has competed in World Games in 1998 Baltimore and has played for Canada in USA vs. Canada World Cup Challenge in 1999.

Director of intramurals and club sports at the University of Notre Dame, Richard O’Leary served as Irish men’s lacrosse coach and was a 37-year member of the university’s athletics administration. O’Leary was responsible for more than 60 intramural activities as well as supervision for Notre Dame’s 24 club sports teams. O’Leary originally came to Notre Dame in 1971 as assistant director of non-varsity sports and served as Notre Dame’s men’s lacrosse and men’s soccer coach in the early club years. He became the first Irish varsity men’s lacrosse coach, handling that assignment for eight years from 1981 through 1988 following 10 seasons (1971-80) as the Irish club lacrosse head coach (79-53 record). O’Leary led the Irish varsity lacrosse team to division titles in the Midwest Club Lacrosse Association in 1982, ’84, ’85, ’86 and ’88. His final Irish squad in 1988 finished 10-4 and three other seasons produced nine wins. He finished with a 64-42 career record. He served as president of the Midwest Club Lacrosse Association in 1975 and 1976 and in 1976 he coached the Midwest squad in the Midwest All-Star vs. College All-Star game. In 1986 he served on the selection committee to choose the United States team for the World Lacrosse Games. A longtime respected member of the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) and Indiana Recreational Sports Association (IRSA), O’Leary assisted in hosting numerous state and regional workshops. Living to the age of 62, O’Leary significantly advanced Notre Dame’s club sports and intramural programs, as well as the entire Office of Recreational Sports at the university.

Solomon began his lacrosse career early, playing Onondaga Nation Minors Box Lacrosse from 1970 to 1974, and competing at LaFayette Central High School from 1976 to 1978. At LaFayette, he helped his team secure the Section III Championship and was recognized as an All-American Selection. During his college career, Solomon earned first-team All-American honors during his second of two seasons at SUNY Cobleskill where he helped lead the team to the JUCO finals in 1980. After graduating from Cobleskill, Solomon was headed to North Carolina State when that program was discontinued by the university. Solomon ended up at Syracuse University and played under legendary coach Roy Simmons, Jr. With a 14-1 record in 1983, Syracuse forged a come-from-behind 17-16 victory over Johns Hopkins in the title game.  Solomon played for the Orange from 1981 to 1983, earning honorable mention All-America honors in his final year at Syracuse. He finished with 293 career saves, including 259 during the Orange’s run to the NCAA title, which ranks fifth on the school’s single-season saves list. After college, he played for the Iroquois National team, including as recently as 2006, when he was 46 years old. Solomon’s other honors include being named to the SUNY Cobleskill Hall of Fame and competing in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Currently head coach of men’s lacrosse at Florida Southern, Whipple began his duties at Florida Southern in 2008 after coaching the previous year at Vero Beach High School. Whipple was men’s lacrosse coach at Bryant University for seven seasons, starting the program in 2000 and producing a 75-39 record during that time. Fifteen Bryant players earned All-America honors during his tenure. After posting a 7-7 record in its inaugural season, Bryant went on to enjoy six straight winning seasons under Whipple’s direction. His teams were nationally ranked in Division II each of his seven seasons there. Before going to Bryant, Whipple was the men’s lacrosse coach at Hartwick College for 12 years. He took over that program in 1987 and became the most successful coach in the program’s history, producing 10 straight winning seasons and an overall record of 114-65. He took Hartwick to its first NCAA tournament berth in 1995. Prior to taking over the Hartwick program, Whipple coached the Clarkson University men’s lacrosse team for seven seasons, setting the school record for wins with a 10-5 record in 1986. In 1994 he was named head coach of the Iroquois National Team and led the squad to a fifth-place finish at the World Lacrosse Championships in England. In 1999 Whipple served as a coach of the Iroquois National Team for the Under-19 World Championships and coached the Under-19 Iroquois Junior National Team to a bronze medal in the World Games in Australia. Whipple has an overall collegiate coaching record of 224-165 in 27 seasons as a head coach. A 1976 graduate of SUNY Cortland, he played on the Cortland 1975 NCAA Division II championship lacrosse team. Whipple was recognized as an All-American while at SUNY Farmingdale in 1973 and 1974. He also earned All-America honors in wrestling at Cortland State and twice was named the team’s most valuable wrestler.


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