Rick Young and Bob Deegan began playing lacrosse together in college, and have continued to play ever since. This summer, 35 years later, the two friends shared a moment that any lacrosse player would dream of: a gold medal win at the World Lacrosse Festival.
Deegan, of Camillus, first picked up a lacrosse stick in 1972 as a freshman walk-on at SUNY Cortland. His high school on Long Island didn't have a lacrosse program at the time, so the game was foreign to him.
"I'd never played before, but I gave it a shot, and liked it right away," he said. "It wasn't uncommon to never have played before back then. Now, it's much harder because the game is more widely played."
During Deegan's junior year, a new player joined the team. His name: Rick Young.
Young, of Marcellus, began playing lacrosse during ninth grade in Baldwinsville. He played for two years at SUNY Farmingdale before transferring to Cortland his junior year.
During that year, 1975, the team won the NCAA Division II Championship title.
After graduating from Cortland, both men went on to careers in teaching and coaching. Deegan coached boys lacrosse for grades seven and eight in the West Genesee Central School District before becoming assistant varsity coach at West Genesee in 1984, where he continues to coach. Young was varsity coach at Christian Brothers Academy and assistant varsity coach at West Genesee before landing the role of head coach at Jordan-Elbridge High School, where he has coached for the past 30 years.
Over the years, Deegan and Young have remained friends, playing pickup games at Shove Park and attending the Annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic festival with their families for the past 17 or 18 summers. They have also participated in the Florida Lacrosse Classic, held Martin Luther King weekend, as well as the 2006 World Lacrosse Festival, which was held in the city of London Ontario.