Delaware County native Marge Watson will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in Baltimore this month. Best known as the coach who launched the women’s program at Ursinus College, she amassed a stunning record of 199-19-9 in 25 seasons from 1957 to 1981. It’s a streak that included seven undefeated, un-tied seasons and runner-up finishes in the 1979 USWLA National Tournament and the 1981 AIAW National Champ-ionship. Now 84 and living in Kimberton, the former U.S. Olympic field hockey assistant coach ranks second in NCAA women’s lacrosse history, with a career winning percentage of .896. For 41 years, she’s been running both a national lacrosse clinic and the AmLax CHALLENGE invitational high school tournament in St. Petersburg, Fla.
MLT: Has your induction stirred old memories or feelings?
MW: Well, it has me digging in drawers and going through stuff, which is good for me. It’s not that I want to do it, but it reinforces the way feel—the ideas I’ve had, no matter who agrees with me or not.
MLT: Are you honored?
MW: I don’t have to go into a hall of fame to be deserving of it. I know I deserve it, but it will be my 66th year in lacrosse. For me, it’s always been about me and the game, but I’m not carrying the torch. I never did. I carried my own torch. Others told me I owe it to those whose lives I’ve influenced, and I thought about that before I signed [the contractual pledge]. You had to sign two lines: the first that you’d accept, and the second that you’d accept with honor. I signed, but it bothered me.
MLT: At Ursinus, how did you ever get the legendary Eleanor Frost Snell to allow you to start a lacrosse team that would draw girls away from her softball team?
MW: She came to me saying Ursinus needed lacrosse because it was the future. She was always ahead of her time and always trying to get what the men had. She sent me to make an appointment with Dr. [Norman] McClure (Ursinus’ president), who’d seen one men’s game—an Army game. “Isn’t that a bit rough?” he asked. I told him, “No, not for the girls.”
MLT: Why did you have such success at Ursinus?
MW: So few of us had [lacrosse]. But at Ursinus, we always got above-average athletes in the years before recruiting. Even in the years after others were giving money, we were still competing with the Marylands and Penn States.
MLT: What have you given to the sport?
MW: Me—that’s all I could give it. I always liked it because it was a family thing. Reid (her husband, who coached for 43 years before his death last year) picked it up. All five kids are still involved. Bray is a college official; Brooke, Blake and Wes coach. Chad is Mr. Lacrosse in North Carolina (he played on UNC’s national championship team in 1986) and president of Lacrosse.com, an equipment and apparel company.
MLT: You produced over 40 coaches yourself. Is that a source of pride?
MW: I’ve always had pride, but I don’t look at it like that. The girls always came to us with something and left with something, but what they left with was up to each individual. When I started at Ursinus, Ms. Snell was Ursinus. We were not clipboard people; we didn’t go by lesson plans. In the spring, Ms. Snell had her coaching class. It was called “The Coaching Class,” but it was about the philosophy of coaching—not Xs and Os—and how to deal with people. Visit www.amlaxflorida.com.