Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach lacrosse team circa 1988.

Teammates Forever

Lacrosse club members return to campus for reunion

Marty Campanella (’89) recalls his teenage daughter teasing him that he was sitting in his armchair too much and needed to do something fun.

“So I said, ‘I am going to call 10 of my best friends and meet them for a long weekend in Daytona Beach,’” says Campanella, a corporate pilot in Maryland. And he did.

He organized a July 27-28 Lacrosse Club Summer Reunion, which was attended by more than a dozen of his old teammates at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus. Thanks to their shared love of aviation, he says he was still in touch with several club members and was able to track down the rest.

“Out of the 14 of us, eight of us are still active pilots,” he says. “Aviation is what kept us together.”

Lacrosse Club members — many who had not been back to campus in 30 years — toured the campus and were amazed at its growth.

“The new student center was just about completed, and everyone unanimously said it’s amazing how far the school has come,” Campanella says. “We couldn’t believe it. They have a whole athletic center. We had a swimming pool. Now they have a real lacrosse team.”

Lacrosse was added to Embry-Riddle’s intercollegiate athletics program in 2017-18, when the school transitioned from the NAIA to NCAA-II competition.

For the Love of the Game

The Lacrosse Club members used to make their own uniforms out of white T-shirts, with ERAU and a number scrawled in black marker on the back, says Chris Watson (’90), who attended the reunion and started a Facebook page for Embry-Riddle Lacrosse Club alumni. The referee wore a white T-shirt striped with black electrical tape.

“We did whatever we could,” says Watson, now a pilot for Atlas Air Worldwide living in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The Lacrosse Club was loosely organized in 1984 by a group of students, most of whom played lacrosse in high school. They arranged the games and drove themselves to competitions at other Florida colleges.

“We would get the other team to put us up and sleep on the floor of the frat house or whatever,” Campanella says. “It was an interesting time, before there was any structure or money. We created our own schedule and roster. We didn’t have coaches or referees, so we designated a student as a referee.”

Alumni from the 1988 Embry-Riddle lacrosse team at the lacrosse field in 2018.
Alumni who attended the 2018 Lacrosse Team Summer Reunion pose for a photo on the new NCAA-II Lacrosse Field at the Daytona Beach Campus. Photo by Daryl LaBello.

Lacrosse games were played in a field, which team members lined themselves.

“Someone would bring a pickup truck with a keg of beer and some beach chairs,” Campanella recalls. “We didn’t have Gatorade, because that was too expensive, so we would drink beer during the game instead.”

One of their biggest fundraising events was having members sell snacks at the Daytona 500, Watson says.

“Each of us would get $400 and get to see the Daytona 500 for free,” Watson recalls. “That was our one day of fundraising. You had to sell out your basket to get that cash, but it was fun.”

At the reunion this past summer, the former teammates threw the ball around a bit, says Campanella, but the event was more about camaraderie than competition, and there are plans to meet up again in a couple of years.

“We’re all in our 50s now, but to start off the reunion, we decided to meet at the Ocean Deck at 5 p.m., like in the old days,” Campanella says. “One guy showed up in his jersey that he’s had for 30 years. So it was like déjà vu — except we were all ready for bed by 9 p.m.”