Lacrosse Pack Rat Showcases Club Years

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Len Niessen ’68, ’69, still has all his copies of The Observer from the 1960s. The self-described “saver” is more of a historian than pack rat, however. A few years ago he sorted through material from his lacrosse-playing days at Notre Dame and sent some pages to Jack Tate ’64, ’66M.A., who founded the first lacrosse team at the University.

With Tate’s encouragement and records of the club’s early years, Niessen put together a web page of the lacrosse club of the 1960s. He also began e-mailing former players about the website. When Tim McHugh ’70 suggested the site should cover the entire club era of lacrosse—1964 through 1980—Niessen took up the challenge.

Now, after 400-some hours of work and “significant contributions” from Tate and Rich O’Leary ’77MSA, the director of intramurals and club sports at ND who coached lacrosse in the 1970s, and other players, Golden Years: A History of Club Lacrosse at Notre Dame is both a website and book. “It was all fun; at no time was this work,” says Niessen, who updates the site monthly.

The website is packed with rosters, records, photographs and recollections, and can be viewed at The book, which Niessen sells at cost for $16, can be ordered from the website. The site still has some gaps, however, and Niessen hopes former ND club players of what he calls “a beautiful sport” will contact him and help fill in the missing information.