November 21, 2011

John Paul Named 2011 Lacrosse Magazine Person of the Year

University of Michigan alum, men's lacrosse coach spearheaded program's move from club to NCAA

Michigan head coach John Paul is Lacrosse Magazine's 2011 Person of the Year for playing a critical role in the Wolverines' club-to-varsity move.
© Tony Ding

BALTIMORE — Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse, has named University of Michigan men's lacrosse head coach John Paul its 2011 Person of the Year.

Paul, who grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., and played collegiately at Michigan, built the school's club lacrosse team into a powerhouse in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association during his 14 years as head coach. But it was his tireless leadership and work behind the scenes with university administrators, lacrosse alumni and boosters that paved the way for the athletic department's historic May 25 announcement to sponsor NCAA Division I lacrosse beginning in the 2011-12 academic year.

In doing so, Michigan became the first institution that participates in football's Bowl Championship Series to add varsity men's lacrosse since Notre Dame did prior to the 1981 season. Michigan named Paul its first varsity men's lacrosse head coach in June.

"This is a great honor," Paul said. "I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish here at Michigan. The people I work with, coach with and coach for deserve just as much recognition. We still have a lot of work to do and a long way to go, but we wouldn't be where we are now without a great group of people who are all passionate about two things I love, the University of Michigan and lacrosse. I'm incredibly fortunate to be part of this, and I'm thankful to Lacrosse Magazine for recognizing our efforts."

"Michigan going varsity was a landmark moment for college lacrosse, one which will hopefully inspire more brand-name universities to invest in the sport at its most visible level," said Matt DaSilva, editor of Lacrosse Magazine. "John Paul made it happen. He did it for the love of the game."

Paul, a 1992 Michigan graduate who has spent 26 years overall with the Wolverine lacrosse program as a player and coach, approached Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon with a proposal to make the then-club lacrosse program varsity shortly after Brandon was hired in January 2010.

"There was no question that from the minute I met JP he was on a mission and had a passion for getting his program to the D-I level," Brandon said.

After researching growth trends of the sport and potential benefits for the university, Brandon agreed lacrosse was a sport worth adding. Paul quickly rallied a group of about 70 donors, who in five months last spring raised nearly $6 million to start varsity men's and women's programs, according to Brandon. Paul had previous skills as a fundraiser. Before becoming club head coach, Paul had worked as a development officer for the university and athletic department.

University of Virginia men's lacrosse coach Dom Starsia, a 2008 inductee into the National Hall of Fame, called Michigan's sponsorship of NCAA lacrosse "probably the biggest news in our sport perhaps since the final four concept." The Wolverines begin their inaugural season Feb. 12, 2012, against the University of Detroit.

US Lacrosse initiated Lacrosse Magazine's Person of the Year in 2007, and it is an honor reserved for the person who has had a tremendous positive influence on the sport and transcended all levels of the game. Previous winners include Duke University men's coach John Danowski (2007), Northwestern University women's coach Kelly Amonte Hiller (2008), University of Denver men's coach Bill Tierney (2009), and Long Island Lizards player Tim Goettelmann (2010). A complete 2011 year in review, including the cover feature on Paul, will run in the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine.


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