HISTORY OF THE MTLLA
Team picture from the first Mt. Lebanon Boys Lacrosse Team, Spring 1987.
The Mt. Lebanon Boys Lacrosse program was founded almost 35 years ago. It all started with an organizational meeting held at the HS in the fall of 1986. That winter the founding members registered 19 boys, growing to 32 before the start of the season. Their first competitive season was in the spring of 1987 playing a 7 game schedule – twice each against USC, Shady Side and Sewickley, and one game with St. Ignatius (Cleveland, OH). They lost every one of the games that inaugural season; but the boys, coaches, parents and community were hooked!
It is said, "Once you play, you're in for life." Mt. Lebanon and its scores of athletes have shown that on a consistent basis beginning with Peter Tulk. Peter, a Canadian who originally ran a restaurant in Murrysville, built the team from nothing to a respected and dominant program in Western PA and set the stage for future Mt Lebanon coaches. Today, he is a college coach at St. Vincent in Latrobe.
Girl’s lacrosse was formed in 1990 when Mary Schwartz was hired as the first girl’s high school lacrosse coach. Mary was followed by Mary Beth Chester. Bird Park served as the girl’s home field in those early days, field conditions not withstanding!
In 1990, Lou Ermer and David Palcho started the boy’s youth program, grades 6 through 8, and began to play outside competition in 1991. With the addition of the youth program, the association would begin to bring in athletes at younger ages, teaching them the fundamentals early, which would form the foundation for future high school success.
In 1992, Rick Bojalad was hired to be the head coach of the high school lacrosse team. The team would go on to be runner up in the WPSLAs multiple times in the '90s, as well as the MSLA-A Bracket championship in 1998. At this same time, Mt. Lebanon produced its first All-Americans in Joe Szefi ('93) and Mike Palcho ('95).
Post Gazette - May 5, 1993
In 1995, the boy’s youth program was expanded to include 5th graders and the girl’s youth program was added. Also, at this time, the boy’s youth coaching torch was passed to Mike Manzo, Jock Beachler and Biff Swagger who spent numerous years coaching teenagers even after their sons went on to play at the high school.
Steve Wey was brought on board as the boy’s head high school coach in 1999. The following year, Mt. Lebanon would break through and win its first WPSLA Championship in 2000! Larry Story would helm the ship in 2002, followed by Brian Novotny in 2003; each adding championships to their tenure. Brian Kattan, the current girl's head coach, was a consistent assistant during these years. The boy’s were Keystone Cup (pre-PIAA) State Runner-ups in 2000, 2002 and 2003.
In 2001 the girl’s youth program was expanded to include 5th and 6th grade and brought with it coaches like Sarah Shannon, Shelia Anderson, Mary Beth Ryfun and Bonnie Gordon. These coaches helped educate and grow young players into future high school stars. In 2011 Katy Phillips and Katrina Silva took over the middle school and youth programs and have continued the success of the programs.
Julie Gould took over the girl’s high school coaching position in 2001, taking the program to its highest level. Starting in 2002 Mt. Lebanon would win back to back WPSLA Championships in 2002 and 2003. Girl’s lacrosse became a WPIAL sanctioned sport in 2004 with the girl’s winning consecutive titles from 2004 to 2006 while also capturing 3 MSLA Championships.Jon Moriarty coached the boy’s the team from 2004 to 2005, leading the program to numerous wins. In 2006, alumnus Kee Joe Song was hired to lead the team after spending many years as an assistant. The 2006, 2007, 2008 teams won three WPSLA lacrosse championships in a row. The 2007 squad was a state runner-up. In 2009 the Mt. Lebanon boys won the very first Boys Lacrosse WPIAL Championship.
For the girls, Lauren Manion would coach the team in 2007, 2008 and 2009, leading the program to numerous wins and a couple tough losses in WPIAL semi-final and championship games. In 2010, Brian Kattan was hired after many years as an assistant with the boy’s and girl’s high school and youth programs. The girls brought home WPIAL titles in 2014 and 2016.
In 2010, once more an alumnus would guide the Lebo Boys, when Mike Ermer became head coach for high school team. The 2011, 2013 and 2015 teams won WPIAL Championships and competed deep into the PIAA state tournaments.
Both the Mt. Lebanon's boys' and girls’ lacrosse teams have produced recognized athletes, as well as college Divisional I, II, III and club level players.
Behind the scenes is the Mt Lebanon Lacrosse Association. Sam Shannon, the original president, presided from 1995 to 2004 and then was succeeded by Jay Bedortha from 2004 to 2011. Steve Guertner served from 2011 to 2014 with Tom Lee following behind him from 2014 to 2018. Kristen Reisinger is the current and first female President of the Board of Directors and has been since 2018. Additionally, there have been countless commissioners, youth coaches and high school assistants that have helped build Mt. Lebanon Lacrosse. We recognize that the association, and our high school success, has grown due to the tons of volunteers and parents who have sacrificed their time to make our young athletes good lacrosse players and even better people.
Finally, our history would not be complete without acknowledging all the boys and girls that have donned a blue and gold Mt. Lebanon jersey. We are built on a rich history of the players that have come before us and hope that future generations of Mt. Lebanon lacrosse players can live up to the great foundation and tradition that past players have set before us.
We are never rebuilding, we are only reloading.
- Chris Hooton, Sam Shannon and Brian Kattan