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News Release, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
When Gary Willis ‘81 walks through the men’s team room at the new Jamie L. Roberts Stadium, he’ll see his name inscribed on a locker and be reminded he is part of a legacy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
“Every time I see it, it will take me back to a time and place when I used to play,” Willis said.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland is in the early stages of a fundraising initiative where for a reasonable donation to the Seahawk Fund — which enhances athletic programs and student-athlete experiences — a donor can have a seat or locker inscribed at the new stadium.
In this instance, it wasn’t one donor but 40 as each member of the SMCM men’s lacrosse team, at the suggestion of the team captains, jumped at the opportunity to come together for the man who volunteers his time to bring a positive spirit, knowledge of the sport and unconditional support to the team.
“He deserves everything. What he’s done for this program, what he’s done for us, you can’t put into words,” said Max Groen ‘19 at a team celebration in April.
Willis played for St. Mary’s College as an undergraduate and reconnected with the program a few years ago after a chance encounter with head coach Jason Childs. For the past two seasons, he has served as a mentor and unofficial assistant coach.
“I know my role and I never want to be overbearing, but just have a positive influence on the team in some way,” he said.
Drew Baker ‘22 said Willis is one of the most positive people he has met, saying that he’s always focused on the good in everyone.“He is kind, caring, and knowledgeable about lacrosse and life in general,” he said.
Baker recalled a time when Willis suggested he try a lacrosse move that he used in college.
“The move was called the ‘roll,’ and you roll around the defenders as you are carrying the ball. I tried the move and the crowd loved it. … He always smiles and gets excited when I use his ‘roll’ in the game.”
Childs said it’s great to see a St. Mary’s College lacrosse alumnus taking such an interest in current players who one day might turn around and do the same for future Seahawks.
Willis said he was surprised when the team presented him with the gift of an inscribed locker. What did not surprise him, he says, was the gesture. “That’s just the type of men they are. You see that in the way they care for each other.”