The Oswego Lacrosse Club (OLC) was founded in 1984 to complement the new Modified team at Oswego Middle School. A youth program was necessary if Oswego was to remain competitive. Bob Nelson was named Director, assisted by OMS coach Dave Gillmeister, and Sean Kesselring. Coaches included Dan Curry, Bruce DeMars, Jim Downs, Tom Picciote, and Paul Politzi. The OLC played at the Fort Ontario (Crisafulli) Rink.
Approximately 125 kids signed up that first year, including 4 girls in the High School Division. There was also Elementary and Middle School Divisions. The session lasted 8 weeks, 2 nights a week. A men’s team from Oswego also joined the Fulton Box Lacrosse League run by Jim Werbeck.
A freshman team was started at Oswego High School, in addition to the Modified team. About 150 kids signed up for summer lacrosse. Joe Ancona (now the head coach at East Islip HS) and John Moore joined the coaching staff. The Fulton league was becoming the premier summer program in the area, second only to Shove Park in Camillus.
A JV team was added at Oswego HS. 150 kids played in the Fort rink again that year. Our first “outside” game was played against Fayetteville – Manlius. We won decisively.
Lacrosse became a Varsity sport at OHS that year. The Bucs played in Division II (now Class B) as part of Gillmeister’s long-range plan to bring the program along gradually. Steve Hyde, Larry Spring, and Bill Fernandez became Oswego’s first lax alumni to go on to play college lacrosse (Potsdam, Geneseo, and Morrisville, respectively).
Our first OLC game was against the Onondaga Nation Pee Wee team, which led to a working relationship and friendship that has lasted to today. A high school team participated in the Great Summer Shootout in Hamburg, and – despite having only 11 players – took second place.
The Bucs moved to Division I in the high school ranks. Our 8 seniors who had been with the program since its inception 4 years earlier finished their careers by qualifying for Sectionals. Two graduates played Division I collegiate lacrosse: Jason Mantaro at Air Force, and Dick Owens at Virginia Military Institute.
More teams joined the Fulton Box league, and the OLC summer program returned to the Fort rink, which boosted attendance. Home and away games were played with Onondaga.
More games were played with the Onondagas, and we hosted a field team from London, Ontario. Our father-son game at the end of the summer season expanded to pick-up games among fathers, uncles, and friends
Our first alumni game was held on June 8, bringing back several ex-laxers. Games were played against Onondaga, and we finally got our first win against them on July 29, a 6-4 win at their outdoor box. A men’s league was formed in Oswego as a less-competitive alternative to the Fulton league.
The OLC entered their first Canadian box lacrosse tournaments in Whitby and Ottawa. We beat the host Whitby team 8-7 in our first game, causing quite a stir among the Canadian coaches.
OLC teams traveled to St. Catharine’s and Ottawa this summer. Oswego hosted the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s Junior B All-Star Game on July 26. The Fort rink was absolutely packed as players from all over Ontario displayed their talents for college coaches from as far away as Duke University. Some of those players would play in the National Lacrosse League in a few years. Minor teams from Gloucester also joined us for the weekend.
The men’s league continued to grow. One of its members, Pete Barletto, proposed the idea of starting a kid’s field lacrosse league. At that time there was no such league in Central New York. It seemed feasible…
Barletto’s idea seems to have had some merit. The Brine Upstate Youth Lacrosse League began play on June 26 at Bishop Ludden HS. All players were 12 and under. Oswego, a charter member, lost its first game to the Syracuse Red Raiders, a select team whose roster included several future major college players.
Box lacrosse continued to be played at the Fort. This was our peak year – about 300 kids were enrolled, in several age groups. Several girls played with us, as did kids from every school district in Oswego County – even Sandy Creek! The travel team played against Gloucester, Onondaga, St. Catharine’s, and Tyendinaga. The men’s league expanded to six teams, including a squad from the Oneida Indian Nation.
Anthony Richmond started a lacrosse camp at OMS, coached by ex-Oswego State lacrosse players.