Austin F. Schmidt III, 64, lacrosse coach

June 06, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Austin F. "Jerry" Schmidt III, a former Johns Hopkins All-American lacrosse player who went on to coach the sport at Hobart and Princeton universities, died Thursday of complications related to diabetes at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin. The Ocean Pines resident was 64.

He was the only lacrosse player to have his picture appear on a Sports Illustrated cover, and he also coached at Calvert Hall College High School, Cornell University and the Naval Academy.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Riderwood, he was a 1958 graduate of St. Paul's School for Boys and earned a history degree at the Johns Hopkins University, where he played football as well as lacrosse.

"I knew he was one of St. Paul's best players, and I recruited him to Hopkins," said Bob Scott, former Hopkins lacrosse coach. "He was just a tough, tough competitor."

While a Johns Hopkins senior, his photo appeared on the April 23, 1962, issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. Named All-American for three years, he was the state's top lacrosse scorer in 1962, the year he won the Turnbull Trophy at Hopkins.

"He was 5 feet 10 inches and 190 pounds, fast and tough and mean," said a 1998 Sports Illustrated retrospective. "Schmidt was willing to put a shoulder down and turn the competition into roadkill, much to the shock of defensemen used to facing smaller forwards. ... He remains the only lacrosse player to have appeared on SI's cover."

"For two hours Saturday, lacrosse was a magnificent spectacle," said a 1962 Evening Sun article detailing a standout performance between Mr. Schmidt and Army lacrosse player Bob Fuellhart, who was later killed in the Vietnam War. "The competitive fires raged in Schmidt," the article said of the Blue Jays' victory over Army.

After he graduated from Hopkins, Mr. Schmidt coached football and lacrosse at Calvert Hall for five years before moving on to Cornell University and Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., where he was head lacrosse coach for 11 years and led his team to championships in 1972, 1977 and 1978. He never had a losing season at the school.

"He was one of the finest lacrosse coaches the game's ever had. He took Hobart to another level," said Dave Urick, men's lacrosse coach at Georgetown University and former Hobart coach, who lives in Fairfax, Va. "As a friend, I often sought his advice, and he had a keen eye for putting things in perspective."

Mr. Schmidt was named Lacrosse Coach of the Year in 1977 by the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. He also coached the 1978 U.S. National Lacrosse Team, which competed internationally.

"He could flat-out shoot a lacrosse ball with incredible precision. He was a lefty," Mr. Urick said. "Not only was he a great scorer, but he was a very physical player. As a coach, all of his emphasis was on a good defense."

Mr. Schmidt ran a Jacksonville, N.C., sporting goods business briefly in the late 1970s but returned to coaching at the Naval Academy and at Princeton, where he was head lacrosse coach from 1982 to 1987, when he resigned to become a Madison, N.J., high school coach.

In 1990 he became a physical education teacher and lacrosse coach at Worcester Country School on the Eastern Shore and retired four years later because of poor circulation in his legs. In his free time, Mr. Schmidt enjoyed crabbing and playing the card game pitch.

He was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Johns Hopkins University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

"I dedicated my life to playing, coaching, and teaching ... and it was worth it all," he said in the 1998 Sports Illustrated article.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. June 17 at Ocean Pines Yacht Club in Ocean Pines .

Survivors include his wife of 14 years, the former Olga Vondrackova; three daughters, Ann Rollo of Aurora, N.Y., Debbie Barnes of Charlotte, N.C., and Christine Schmidt of Catonsville; two sons, William C. Schmidt of Easton and John Marcus Schmidt of Catonsville; a sister, Rebecca Munsell of Centreville; a stepson, Roman Melzer of Puerto Real, Spain; and 15 grandchildren. His marriage to Mary "Molly" White ended in divorce.

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