The Etter-Harbin Alumni Center filled with chatter, laughs and nostalgia on Saturday evening at the inaugural Texas Lacrosse Hall of Fame Induction Banquet.
Ten former Longhorns — Denny Bahm, Don Carnes, Bob Korba, Matt Harder, Kenny Kaplan, Walt Williams, Tim Curran, Jasen Trautwein, Bronson Parker and Eric Zissman — were honored for their contributions to the Texas lacrosse team and for being ambassadors to the sport. But despite the formal dress code, the night was simply a meeting between old friends.
In addition to the Hall of Fame festivities, the guests were also celebrating a win. Honorees and alumni watched the Texas lacrosse team defeat Texas State by a score of 19-9 on Friday evening at Clark Field. At the induction, the lacrosse alumni dined with the student-athletes they watched dominate just the day before. For the first time, several generations of Texas lacrosse players had intersected paths.
“This is so surreal,” said Warren Williamson, former Texas midfielder and event coordinator, as he opened the night. “I keep thinking about how much history is in this room.”
Lacrosse at Texas dates back to 1974, when the team was founded by Bahm and some of his classmates. A freshman at the time the team started, Bahm didn’t know that he and his teammates would create a lasting legacy.
Carnes, another founding member, was highly dedicated to that first team in 1974 and remained dedicated to the sport for decades as a lacrosse referee. The San Antonio native, who practices law in Austin and lives near the UT campus, was happy to reunite with some of his best friends.
“(The lacrosse team) was my group at UT,” Carnes said. “We’re all brothers, and we ran around together. A lot of us have kept in touch over the years, but there are some teammates here I hadn’t seen in 40 or 45 years …. Having them here is very special.”
The night brought back memories for many players, but Kaplan, a former goalie who has maintained careers in sports broadcasting and photojournalism, recalled one story in which a lacrosse team trip to New Orleans went wrong.
“We were going to Tulane, and this one player said that we could stay at his fraternity house,” Kaplan said. “We pull up to New Orleans after a nine-hour drive in our old 1970s cars, and he knocks on the (fraternity’s) door and says, ‘Hey, we’re here.’ And the guy looks at him and goes ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’”
From there, the group of students — without any money and a place to stay — drove to Tulane Stadium and slept under a nearby tree. The next day, they won 6-5 in what Kaplan called “the game of our lives.”
Many of the inductees and other alumni in attendance have since contributed to lacrosse in various ways. Harder coaches youth in Aspen, Colorado, and officiates boys lacrosse throughout the state. Parker became the Texas lacrosse coach after his playing days, and Williams helped establish the University of Texas Lacrosse Endowment Fund.
But for one evening, the former teammates had another chance to come together and reminisce on their past lives as members of the lacrosse team.