Tom Hall Obituary, Death – There are a lot of historical people associated with high school lacrosse in Central New York. However, among them, Tom Hall stands out as one of the most prominent. Not only did Hall create the boys’ lacrosse program at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, but he also served as a leader and advisor during the sport’s expansion into a more prominent role and increased level of popularity. The news of Hall’s passing was shared by F-M later that same day, having occurred on Friday morning. According to the statement, “Today, the field hockey and lacrosse communities are mourning the loss of a great legend.” The legacy that (Tom Hall’s) effect has left at Fayetteville-Manlius, as well as Central New York and the sport of lacrosse in New York State, will go on forever.
The fact that Hall did all of this while he was still enrolled at F-M made perfect sense, given that it was his alma university. He excelled in football, basketball, and baseball, but he did not participate in lacrosse because it was not a varsity sport at his school. He was known as a three-sport star. After receiving his degree from SUNY Cortland, Hall went back to F-M to work as a teacher and coach there. And the year 1964 was the one that saw the beginning of guys’ varsity lacrosse at the high school.
Over the next 36 years, Hall led the Hornets, gradually building a powerhouse program that frequently reached the national rankings and featured more than 350 players who would go on to the college and professional ranks, including 25 college All-Americans. During his tenure as head coach of the Hornets, Hall oversaw the careers of more than 350 players who would go on to play at the collegiate and professional levels.
At the time of Hall’s retirement, his F-M teams had won a total of 454 games, placing them fourth all-time in the state. In addition, they had won four Section III championships, two regional championships, and two state runner-up places. He was awarded multiple Coach of the Year honors, including the Jerry Carroll National Coach of the Year medal in 1977. He also won other Coach of the Year distinctions. And the Hornets may have accomplished a whole lot more if another dynastic program at West Genesee, which was founded by another coaching legend named Mike Messere, hadn’t been located directly across town from them.
High school lacrosse in the entirety of Upstate New York has come to be defined by the rivalry that exists between F-M and West Genesee. Two generations of Hornets and Wildcats competed against one another under the direction of Hall and Messere until Hall made the decision to retire at the end of the 1999 season. He was replaced by long-time assistant coach Chris Kenneally, who included Hall’s son Geoff among his assistant coaching staff. What Hall achieved to expand the sport beyond F-M was equally as essential as what his teams were able to accomplish while they were competing on the field. In 1976, Hall assumed the role of Section III lacrosse chairman and remained in that position for the better part of three decades. Shortly after he assumed sectional leadership, Hall was instrumental in the establishment of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament.