Sue Stahl, A Class Lacrosse Act
Jan. 7, 2003
By Ira Josephs of the Philadelphia Inquirer Suburban Staff
The numbers - four World Cup championships - say Sue Stahl has succeeded as a lacrosse coach.
The affectionate words from her former players say she has succeeded as a human being.
Stahl, a 1962 graduate of Upper Darby High and a 1966 graduate of Ursinus College, was honored by the Delco Sports Hall of Fame Saturday at its current home, the Museum of the History of Delaware County in Chester.
Stahl guided the U.S. national team to World Cup championships in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2001, and already has been selected to coach the squad again when the U.S. defends its title in 2005.
It's just the latest tribute for Stahl, who two years ago was named women's lacrosse coach of the century by the International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations.
Stahl, a former assistant lacrosse and field hockey coach at Temple and head women's basketball coach at Haverford College and Ursinus, has coached lacrosse power Old Dominion since 1990.
"It's an honor to say you've had her as a coach," said Kathleen Barrett Geiger, a Lansdowne-Aldan High graduate who played for Stahl at Temple and on the 1989, '93 and '97 World Cup teams. "More importantly, now, it's nice to have her as a friend. She's a great person. You're always learning from her."
Nine Delco women have played on World Cup championship teams since 1982. All nine - and dozens more elite players and coaches - are linked to Sue Stahl in some way.
Six of the nine attended Saturday's event, several with their lacrosse-playing children in tow. Each person in attendance received a poster depicting all nine players in action, and Stahl was the centerpiece of the poster and the festivities.
Delco Hall of Fame co-chairman Jim Vankowski introduced Stahl at the luncheon by quoting Swarthmore College coach Karen Emas Borbee, a 1989 World Cup player: There is Sue Stahl, and there is everybody else."
Throughout the event, Stahl graciously signed autographs, posed for pictures, and mingled with players and admireers.
"This is very exciting," Stahl said. "It provides some recognition for the players and game of lacrosse. Jim has done a great job."
Delco has always supported sports and women's lacrosse is no exception. Penncrest graduate Josie Harper, now athletic director at Dartmouth, coached the 1986 U.S. World Cup team. Archbishop Prendergast graduate Carole Kleinfelder, Harvard's coach, is the winningest coach in women's college lacrosse.
"There were always opportunities for girls to play, way back," said Stahl, who began playing at Drexel Hill Junior High in the late 1950's. "We were ahead of our time in this area. Junior high led to high school, and players and the desire to go to college and further their careers and continue on the U.S. level."
At Upper Darby, Stahl starred in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. She continued playing all three sports at Ursinus along with softball, and was a member of the U.S. national teams in field hockey and lacrosse in the mid-1960's.
Before continuing her coaching career on the college level, Stahl taught physical education and health, and coached field hockey, basketball and lacrosse at Lansdowne-Aldan. She was named to the Pennsylvania Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1998 and both the Virginia Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the U.S. Lacrosse National Hall of Fame in 1999.
"She has a charismatic personality and gets the most out of h er players," said Emas Borbee, a Penncrest High and University of Delaware graduate. "She is very talented at putting together groups of players that can win championships."
Jane Diamond Barbieri, a Springfield (Delco) and West Chester State graduate, played for the 1982 World Cup champions. She also played for Stahl's Philadelphia One teams in the 1980's.
"This area is such a hotbed, and it's because of the excellent coaches," said Diamond Barbieri, who founded the women's program at Penn Charter after coaching the boys' junior varsity there for a year.
After being recruited to Temple by Stahl from Haverford High, Chrissy Muller Poplawski played for Stahl on the 1989 World Cup team.
"I owe h er a lot," said Muller Poplawski, now an assistant at Springfield with Barrett Geiger. "She helped me develop as a player and a person. We've stayed in touch. She's a good person."
Stahl, in turn, credits the players for her success. "If you don't have the horses, you don't do as well," she said. "They are disciplined athletes, and they work to excel.
"I coach because I love it. If it ever stops being fun, I'll stop. It's not about me, it's about the players.
Contact Ira Josephs at 610-313-8002 or firstname.lastname@example.org