Posted on Thu, Jan 9, 2014
It has been 46 years, and still Pat Pallend ’67 carries the photograph. Creased at the corners and the ink a little faded, it is a younger version of himself, dressed for the game he loved to play at Geneseo, with the coach who inspired him.
In the end, then, it was fitting that the coach who recruited Pallend and fellow teammate Doug Bartlett ’69 would reunite them nearly 50 years later. They returned to Geneseo last June to attend a memorial service for John Hoey, associate professor emeritus of English, who helped found the men’s lacrosse program.
Bartlett went on to coach lacrosse for more than 35 years, including 21 at the Virginia Military Institute. He serves as vice president of the KeyDet Club, the fundraising arm of VMI athletics. Pallend is the economic development director for Fairburn, Ga.
Together again, they remembered … And the stories they told:
Pallend: Hoey recruited me at the bar at The Big Tree Inn. He said, ‘I hear you think you’re a tough guy,’ and I said ‘Who the hell are you?’ He said, ‘I’m John Hoey: I’m starting this lacrosse program and I’m looking for tough guys, so why don’t you try out for the team and we’ll see just how tough you are.’ And I said, ‘I’m tough enough, now buy me a beer ’— and he did.
Bartlett: My first recollection of meeting John was unbelievable — he was a short guy like me! Full of life, full of passion. He truly cared about us as people first, and then we were his players. I wouldn’t have graduated if it weren’t for him. He constantly kept me on course, wanting to know how I was doing, where I was struggling. He taught me that when you’re a coach, you’re on duty 24-7.
Pallend: What I remember most was the time spent with John, (his wife) Betty, and the family. They were hugely important … in helping me move in the right direction from being a kid to a man.
Bartlett: He wore this really strange hat, not the kind you’d expect to see a coach wearing at practice. He also wore a shirt and tie on game days. ‘This is my office,’ he said. ‘We may be out-played and out-coached, but we will never be out-dressed.’
Pallend: He had a remarkable ability to see things as they were and to put his finger on the truth of the matter. That’s why I carry this faded photograph in my wallet. Looking at it, I sense the warmth and affection and it helps define how significant the Geneseo experience was for me.
Bartlett: Sometimes on recruiting trips, I’d stop in and have coffee with him. He was so proud of what I was doing, coaching. That made me feel really good.
Pallend: There are people in our lives who are a significant influence in a number of ways. With the time I spent with him in lacrosse and with his family, I knew damn well I could do anything I set my mind to. … I had a very keen sense of confidence that I could accomplish what was put on my plate when I left here.
Bartlett: He loved the student body, loved lacrosse, loved his job. His house was always open to us; he was someone we could always go to with any problem. For John, it was always more than just a game. I feel blessed to have known the man.