A Brief History of East / East-Manual Lacrosse, 1965-2015

The Early Years

1968-men

Denver East High School Men’s Lacrosse began in 1965.  The first reference to the sport in school records appears in the 1968 Angelus yearbook:

“The East High LaCrosse (sic) team, under the coaching of Mr. George Brown and the sponsorship of Mr. Jim Owens, has been an active, competitive sport for the last four years. Throughout the spring the members competed against South, George Washington and other league teams. Practice was held during the late winter months with physical fitness as well as technique encouraged. Meetings were held where anyone who wanted to join was encouraged to do so. Although the sport is not considered an official minor sport at East, the victories won brought pride to the school. Last year the team took 2nd in City.”

Some of the founding players on the 1965 team were Mike Stratton, Don Peterson, Bruce Beaton, Bruce Gilchrist, Ron Lehr, Buck Allen, and Roger Greenberg.

East alum and current Vail, Colorado Municipal Judge Buck Allen shared these memories:

“Coach George Brown (a.k.a. “Brownie”) played for DLC (Denver Lacrosse Club). Several of the DLC folks would stop by as their practice was after ours.

Bob Woodberry was one of the DLC players. We all practiced on top of the reservoir at Congress Park.  Bill Cooper ran Classic Trophy and also sold us lacrosse equipment. We played DCD (Denver Country Day), Colorado Academy, Adams City. We also played CU’s club twice up in Boulder.”

The East-Manual Era

In the early 1970’s East and Manual combined to form the East-Manual Lacrosse Club.  The Club enjoyed support from many individuals throughout the community from 1971 – 1978.  Chris Romer, former State Senator and one-time Denver Mayoral candidate, served as Player-Coach in 1977 & 1978.  Romer currently is co-Head Coach of the East Angels Women’s lacrosse team.

In 1979 Jon Barocas was approached to be an assistant coach by a former teammate at Graland Country Day, Rick Sandoval, and by Terry Claassen, an East-Manual player.  After the first practice, Barocas became the Head Coach and remained at East for the next 33 years, retiring in 2011.

Under Barocas’ leadership East accumulated nine Colorado State Championships in 1985, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’90, ’93, ’96, ‘98 and 2000, and had five undefeated seasons.

In 1985 the East team began traveling throughout the country playing teams in California, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Florida.  In 1988 Denver East won the Daniel Hand Tournament, bringing instant recognition to Colorado lacrosse as being competitive with its east coast counterparts.   In 1994, East’s Christian Cook was voted MVP of the San Diego High School Tournament.

In 1999, with the official Colorado sanctioning of boy’s lacrosse, East-Manual returned to being known as Denver East Lacrosse and won the CHSAA sanctioned State Championship game in 2000.  The team also appeared in the State Title game in 2002 and 2006.

Angel Pride, Far & Wide

Over the years, East has produced players who have gone on to win a combined eight NCAA Championships with their respective teams, including North Carolina, Syracuse, Princeton and Johns Hopkins.  East has produced 31 High School All Americans including Christian Cook, a 1993 Colorado High School All American, two time NCAA All American at Princeton, the 1998 NCAA Defensive Player of the Year and the Major League Lacrosse 2002 Defenseman of the year and Team USA member.   Cook was inducted into the Colorado Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2003.  In 2005 and 2006 another East alum, Jon Urbana (2001) become the second two-time Division 1 All-American from East High School and the fourth All-American ever from Villanova University.  Urbana was elected captain of the Wildcats as a Junior in 2004.  On April 22 2006, East and Cherry Creek made Colorado lacrosse history when they played before 12,000 fans in the Rocky Mountain Shootout at Invesco Field (now Sports Authority Field at Mile High).

Throughout the years, East Men’s lacrosse has been privileged to have players who later contributed to major college programs including Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Johns Hopkins, North Carolina, Hofstra, Hobart, Middlebury, Drexel, Villanova, Delaware, Colby, Amherst, Williams, Kenyon, Colorado College, Denison, Connecticut College, Gettysburg, Boston College, Columbia, Georgetown, BUcknell, Pennsylvania, Vermont, University of Denver, Butler, Bates, Franklin & Marshall and Towson, among others.

As the East lacrosse program has grown, so has the need for financial and educational support.  In mid-1997, through the efforts of dedicated supporters Jo Ellen Cohen and Dennis Montgomery, the Friends of East-Manual Lacrosse Club, Inc., a Colorado non-profit corporation, was formed, and still operates today.  Its purpose is to:

  • provide scholarships and grants for students who are unable to pay fees or purchase equipment;
  • support coaching, transportation and equipment costs;
  • and, provide education about lacrosse to inner-city youth.

Current East High Boy’s Lacrosse coach Sean McCarthy is in his seventh season with the Angels.  Today, the program comprises three teams – Varsity, JV and C teams and plays in the Front Range division of CHSSA 5A Lacrosse.  And yes, the passionate rivalries with the likes of Kent and Colorado Academy are still very much alive!

Alumni, parents, family and friends like you have always stood by the East High Lacrosse Program.  Your support has made our success possible.  The current staff and players, parents and members of the Friends of East-Manual Lacrosse community, extend their thanks, appreciation and gratitude to all East High lacrosse fans.  Please join us in cheering on the 2016 Angels!