Inaugural Pro Lacrosse Hall of Fame class inducted on Long Island

By Lauren Merola | Jun 20, 2022

The Premier Lacrosse League inducted the inaugural class into the Pro Lacrosse Hall of Fame at halftime of the Archers-Cannons game at Shuart Stadium on Saturday.

Former attackers John Grant Jr., Mark Millon and Casey Powell, midfielders Gary Gait, Jay Jalbert and Matt Striebel, defenders John Gagliardi, Pat McCabe and Nicky Polanco, faceoff specialist Paul Cantabene and goalie Brian Dougherty are the first 11 players to join the brotherhood.

“This is really the first group of players that helped build professional lacrosse,” Gait said. “A lot of us were trying to grow the game and get the game to the point where we could have a professional league. When professional lacrosse started, I was more at the end of my career than the beginning, but it’s awesome to see the game grow and get to this level.”

Gait was a 34-year-old rookie when Major League Lacrosse was founded in 2001. Still, he posted 38 points (30G, 8A) in 14 games played in his first year with the Long Island Lizards. In his fifth professional season with the Baltimore Bayhawks, he put up 64 points (43G, 21A).

During the ceremony, each player received a gold jacket embroidered with a “Professional Lacrosse Hall of Fame” patch on it.

“I’m tremendously humbled to be inducted with these other 10 guys,” Cantabene said. “It’s kind of crazy how far pro lacrosse has come… It’s a great honor to be here and to be together.”

The League announced the inaugural Pro Lacrosse Hall of Fame class on Feb. 15. The eligibility requirements include having played a minimum of five years in the Premier Lacrosse League or Major League Lacrosse, being retired for at least three years, being nominated by a member of the Hall of Fame Committee and receiving a 75% majority vote of approval.

“When it was announced, I put on my social media, I used the word ‘elated,’” Millon said. “To me, that is the ultimate word for how excited you could possibly be. I’ve been fortunate, as a lot of these guys have been, to get into a bunch of Hall of Fames – my alma mater UMass, the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame –  and I’m not undermining any of them, but this one’s just different. These are my peers, and these guys are the best of the best, and they’re all generally current. You get into a different Hall of Fame and some people played in 1930 or 1940, but these are the guys that I’ve competed against. The honor is just extraordinary.”

Many of the inductees played with or against each other in college or Major League Lacrosse.

“I actually liked playing against Nicky [Polanco] because we would just headbutt each other all the time,” Grant Jr. said. “Then I ended up being his teammate and now he’s a close friend.”

Grant Jr. and Polanco were competitors until 2011 when Grant Jr. joined Polanco on the Long Island Lizards. The two were teammates for two more years on the Chesapeake Bayhawks during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Grant Jr. played 15 seasons of professional lacrosse, posting 643 points (second all-time). Polanco played 14 seasons, during which he picked up 480 ground balls (10th all-time).

[Grant Jr.] and I had so many awesome battles,” Polanco said. “The respect was always there. I was always a fan, but I’d never let him know that. I still won’t let him know that… He was incredible to play against. We’re wired the same. We’re wired to win. We’re wired to bang and be physical. It’s something we always looked to match up with.”

The League plans to induct a new class every year, though future inductions may not follow the first-year format of one former goalie and faceoff specialist and three former attackmen, midfielders and defenders.

“I think this would be a cool brotherhood moving forward if we could do this every year,” Jalbert said. “It’d be really cool to see everyone, support the sport, see your old friends you used to play with, tell stories and watch great lacrosse.”

In Powell’s mind, this group can still play.

“We could go out there right now and play. We’ll take on the Whipsnakes. Bring it on,” he joked. “In my mind, in our prime, we’d be unbeatable.”

For a more in-depth view of each inductee’s stats and accomplishments, check out