Three years ago, Loyola women's lacrosse coach Diane Geppi-Aikens wasn't sure she would be standing anywhere by now much less standing in front of her peers last night being inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Greater Baltimore Chapter Hall of Fame.
A benign brain tumor removed two years earlier had grown back by May 1998,
and it was even more stubborn than the first time. In addition to another
operation, a grueling round of radiation was necessary.
But in typically upbeat style, Geppi-Aikens never doubted that she would
recover fully, and she did.
"To be able to stand up there [last night] and to be healthy is something
that makes this award a little more special," said Geppi-Aikens. "I'm just
excited about being healthy. I haven't felt this good in many years."
Geppi-Aikens still has an MRI every three months, but there has been no
recurrence of the tumor. Last spring, she guided the Greyhounds to the NCAA
Final Four for the fifth time in her 12-year coaching career. A win over North
Carolina in the quarterfinals gave the coach her 150th victory.
Last night at the Grand Lodge at Bonnie Blink in Hunt Valley, Geppi-Aikens
and seven others who have distinguished themselves through lacrosse were
inducted into the local hall of fame. All excelled as players, coaches or
officials or served the game in some other significant capacity.
Many, including Geppi-Aikens, have contributed in more than one way.
A three-sport athlete at Parkville High, Geppi-Aikens was an All-America
goalie at Loyola College. She later spent two years on the U.S. squad.
With the Greyhounds, Geppi-Aikens, 38, has become one of the nation's top
women's college coaches. Her teams have qualified for the NCAA tournament
seven times and reached the championship game in 1997. That year, Geppi-Aikens
was named national Coach of the Year for a second straight season.
Now, her three daughters - Jessica, 13; Melissa, 10; and Shannon, 7 - are
starting to play lacrosse. Son Mike, 15, manages the JV team at Calvert Hall.
Del Dressel. One of only three men to earn four-time first-team All-America
status, Dressel, a Gilman graduate, led Johns Hopkins to NCAA titles in 1984
Tom Duquette. Another Gilman graduate, Duquette remains the third-leading
scorer in Virginia history with 107 goals and 92 assists. After leading the
Cavaliers to the 1972 national title, the All-American who now coaches at
Norfolk Academy (Va.) went on to play at Mount Washington and for the 1974
U.S. world championship team.
Katie Glose. After helping Towson State reach the Division II title game in
1980, Glose went on to play for the U.S. squad and made the national team in
1986. She coached at Bryn Mawr and Johns Hopkins, served on the selection
committee for the U.S. team and traveled the world giving clinics sponsored by
the International Federation of Women's Lacrosse.
Andi O'Connor. The editor of the Greater Baltimore chapter newsletter,
O'Connor played four years at Maryland, including a national championship
season in 1981. She played three years for Team Toyota and was a U.S. squad
member in 1986 and a reserve team member in 1988.
Gail D. Purcell. The Sun's Howard County Coach of the Year in 1996, Purcell
led the Centennial High girls to Howard County and regional titles in 1990.
The Towson State graduate was a member of the U.S. squad and reserve team from
1975 to 1978.
Tom Sheckells. The Poly graduate still holds Army's record for career
assists with 80 in three years. Sheckells continued to support the game in
Ohio, Virginia and Baltimore and as a board member of the Potomac chapter and
of the Lacrosse Foundation.
John M. Stewart. Head coach of the Baltimore Thunder from 1988 to 1996,
Stewart made his mark as player, coach and administrator. A second-team
All-America midfielder at Loyola College, he later coached two MSA champion
teams at Loyola High, where he is now dean of students.
Bill Tanton. Although he played at St. Paul's and Johns Hopkins and then
officiated for 12 years, Tanton is best known as a longtime lacrosse writer.
He has written about the sport for 45 years at The Evening Sun, The Sun and