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Geppi-Aikens is celebrating her health as well as lacrosse

Sun Staff

Three years ago, Loyola women's lacrosse coach Diane Geppi-Aikens wasn'tsure she would be standing anywhere by now much less standing in front of herpeers last night being inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Greater BaltimoreChapter 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 anotheroperation, a grueling round of radiation was necessary.

But in typically upbeat style, Geppi-Aikens never doubted that she wouldrecover fully, and she did.

"To be able to stand up there [last night] and to be healthy is somethingthat makes this award a little more special," said Geppi-Aikens. "I'm justexcited 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 norecurrence 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 NorthCarolina in the quarterfinals gave the coach her 150th victory.

Last night at the Grand Lodge at Bonnie Blink in Hunt Valley, Geppi-Aikensand seven others who have distinguished themselves through lacrosse wereinducted into the local hall of fame. All excelled as players, coaches orofficials 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-Americagoalie 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 topwomen's college coaches. Her teams have qualified for the NCAA tournamentseven times and reached the championship game in 1997. That year, Geppi-Aikenswas named national Coach of the Year for a second straight season.

Now, her three daughters - Jessica, 13; Melissa, 10; and Shannon, 7 - arestarting to play lacrosse. Son Mike, 15, manages the JV team at Calvert Hall.

Other inductees:

Del Dressel. One of only three men to earn four-time first-team All-Americastatus, Dressel, a Gilman graduate, led Johns Hopkins to NCAA titles in 1984and 1986.

Tom Duquette. Another Gilman graduate, Duquette remains the third-leadingscorer in Virginia history with 107 goals and 92 assists. After leading theCavaliers to the 1972 national title, the All-American who now coaches atNorfolk Academy (Va.) went on to play at Mount Washington and for the 1974U.S. world championship team.

Katie Glose. After helping Towson State reach the Division II title game in1980, Glose went on to play for the U.S. squad and made the national team in1986. She coached at Bryn Mawr and Johns Hopkins, served on the selectioncommittee for the U.S. team and traveled the world giving clinics sponsored bythe 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 championshipseason in 1981. She played three years for Team Toyota and was a U.S. squadmember in 1986 and a reserve team member in 1988.

Gail D. Purcell. The Sun's Howard County Coach of the Year in 1996, Purcellled 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 from1975 to 1978.

Tom Sheckells. The Poly graduate still holds Army's record for careerassists with 80 in three years. Sheckells continued to support the game inOhio, Virginia and Baltimore and as a board member of the Potomac chapter andof 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-teamAll-America midfielder at Loyola College, he later coached two MSA championteams at Loyola High, where he is now dean of students.

Bill Tanton. Although he played at St. Paul's and Johns Hopkins and thenofficiated 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 andLacrosse magazine.

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