By Chris Ely
Saturday, April 2, 2005 was not a typical spring day in the Mid-Atlantic region. Rain came down in buckets, it was windy and it was unseasonably cold. Thankfully, I was relieved of my officiating responsibilities at about 7:30 in the morning when I got a telephone call informing me that my game at Shenandoah University was postponed until Sunday.
At one o'clock, with no game to referee, with all the local teams on the road, and with the NCAA basketball semi-finals 5 hours away, I decided to check in on the lacrosse game of the week on television. The opening shots of Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, where Navy got set to meet Georgetown made me thankful that I did not have to referee this one. The field was a quagmire, the goal creases were under water and the rain continued to fall in sheets. And this was supposedly the "good field". Georgetown decided to cede home field advantage the day before and play their home game at Navy because the Hoya's home field was unplayable.
Georgetown looked surprisingly strong in the first quarter, holding off several Navy scoring attempts and jumping on top 1-0 on their first trip into Navy territory, The Hoyas added one more first quarter goal to take a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.
When the TV coverage returned after the break- Scott Garceau, Keith Mills and Quint Kessinich told us there would be a delay as one of the officials was down on the field being attended to by medical personnel. The shot of Scott Boyle, on his back, motionless, sent shivers up my spine. And when the other game officials, Butch West and Andy Motsko along with Georgetown coach Dave Urick and Navy coach Richie Meade sent the players to the locker room, I knew Scotty's condition was very, very serious and I feared the worst. Shortly after Scott was taken into the ambulance, officials and team representatives huddled. My thought- this game cannot continue. Thankfully, the wise decision was made to suspend the game until Sunday.
An hour later, I got the telephone call I dreaded. Former official Howard Garrett called to say that Scott Boyle was not able to survive the heart attack that struck him on the sodden field at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
Later, Keith Mills offered a wonderful tribute to Scott on his 6 O'clock sportscast. He ended by saying that Scott had passed away doing what he truly loved, officiating a lacrosse game. I thought to myself- "that's true, but a good man's life should never end like this. God should not have snatched the life from a wonderful man like Scott Boyle while he was lying on his back in the mud with rain pouring down and a TV camera looking down on the scene.
For the last 35 years Scott has been a major fixture in the local and national lacrosse scene. How immense a career did Scotty enjoy? Probably unequalled in lacrosse officiating history. Think of it like this in baseball terms: Scott Boyle was the home plate umpire for your local t-ball championship, the Little League World Series, your state high school baseball title game, the Major League Baseball World Series, the NCAA World Series, the Caribbean World Series, the Japanese World Series and the Olympic Gold Medal game. And, if baseball had a world series with only domed teams invited, Scotty would have umpired that as well.
- Little league and summer league finals- Scott did too many to ever count.
- NCAA games, semi-finals, championship games- Scott was on the field. He was the lead official in the NCAA final in 1988 and 1999 and would have refereed last years Division I final had it not been for the possibility that Princeton may have played. You see, Scott's nephew, Ryan Boyle, would have played in that game, so Scott was pulled at the last minute. I Never heard Scott utter one word of complaint on that decision, despite the fact that if he had worked that game he would have achieved the distinction of working championship games in three straight decades.
- The World Games- Scott represented the United States in 1986 in Canada. The Olympic-style extravaganza was one of his favorite assignments.
- Club lacrosse- Scott was the players' favorite - more often than not, June would mean Scott was in either the American Lacrosse League or United States Club Lacrosse Association finals.
- Pro lacrosse- Scott was one of the first to referee the pro indoor game, beginning in 1987 and ending in 1998. Scott was the lead ref in the championships in 1987 and 1990. When the pros went outdoors- Scott worked those games too.
He was everywhere- so well thought of by those that make game assignments, that he was considered one of the top officials in the country. And think about this, Scott was doing the top games in the decade of the 70's, throughout the 80's, the 90's and up to 2005. That is an incredible span of time to be on top of a very competitive avocation.
It did not matter to Scotty what level of lacrosse was being played in front of him. That game, those teams, those kids playing lacrosse, were the most important people in his universe for the two hours or so he was on the field. After the game was over, Scott would frequently hang around, making friends, schmoozing the crowd, explaining rulings and congratulating players and coaches. Scott "worked the room" like an expert politician. He delighted in officiating and soaked up the post game atmosphere like no other.
He was so good at performing as an ambassador of the game, fellow officials nicknamed him, respectfully, "the Senator". Fellow officials, coaches and players realized this was a man who truly loved the game of lacrosse, loved being out there on the field, endeavored at all times to be fair to all and truly reveled in the majesty of it all- especially the big stages of Johns Hopkins, Navy, Maryland, Syracuse, Princeton and the NCAA playoffs and Championships.
The only thing Scotty loved more than lacrosse was his wife Becky, daughter Kelly and son Scotty. Early in my refereeing career, I was at Scott's house all the time as he and I got set to venture off together to a college or club game somewhere. Inevitably, Becky was getting set to watch Kelly's game or take Scotty to some lacrosse practice or game the same day. And Scotty could not help himself telling all about how good a player Kelly was, how smart she was and how proud he was of Scotty's achievements on the lacrosse field or in school or whatever. He was also very proud of his brother, Darby, both his exploits as a player, then later when he joined the ranks of officialdom. Oh, and did you ever hear Scott prattle on about his nephew, Ryan? Probably not, because Scott never had to trade on the name of the lacrosse superstar. Was he proud of his brother's son? Sure. But he kept that pride to himself.
Before every big game, officials huddle for a pre-game conference. Scott was usually the one to conduct this meeting, as he was usually the crew chief. At almost every one of these meetings, Scott unknowingly, passed on his philosophy of lacrosse officiating. It went something like this: Don't sweat the small stuff. This game is for the players, not the officials. Our job is to make sure the game is played fairly, but that the game flows freely. When you have to step in, step in. At all other times, stay the heck out of the way.
And during the game, Scott was at his very best when things seemed at their very worst. I have never seen an official with Scott's ability to diffuse a hostile situation simply by taking charge. No official that ever worked a game could explain a call like Scotty could. Scott was so convincing, coaches and players would often shake their heads after one of his elaborate recitations of the rules and mechanics. They realized they could not question his selling of that particular ruling.
More importantly, Scott was the ultimate professional and a gentleman on and off the field. Fellow officials and lacrosse pooh-bahs of all stripes sensed Scott's deep feelings for the games and the players who played them. I recall the 1986 World Games tryouts at Rutgers. We worked the scrimmages from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. At the lunch and dinner breaks, we officials headed back to the dorms to dry out our uniforms, catch a break and share war stories. Scott and I, hot, achy and tired, relaxed in an un-air-conditioned dorm room prior to the night session. Despite our fatigue, Scott was so upbeat; he could hardly contain his enthusiasm. As we left for the field, he asked "Isn't this the greatest thing you've ever been involved with? We are watching the greatest lacrosse players on the planet! This is unbelievable!" And off I went, with Scotty, rejuvenated.
Scott mentored too many young lacrosse referees to count. His was not an overbearing attitude with neophytes learning the game. His advice was usually more subtle. If he sensed you were struggling, he would step in and take the heat off of you. If he detected a flaw in your mechanics, he would suggest a better way of doing things. And then there were the countless little things he picked up and passed on to less experienced officials.
Years ago, when I was assigned to referee my first Maryland-Hopkins game, Scott approached me at our regular meeting the Monday prior to the game. He said "I hear you've got the big one on Saturday." I said "Yes, it should be fun." He asked what kind of whistle I had. When I told him it was the standard acme thunderer he said "Tomorrow, go over to Bacharach's and buy one of the little ones, those high pitched ones. And get a finger whistle. You will find, when you are on the field at Byrd Stadium, you can't hear yourself think. This will be the biggest crowd you will ever see. That whistle you have won't do the job. Get a little one. And, by the way, I'll be watching so have a good game."
I bought that little acme thunderer, Tom Young, Butch West and I officiated the Blue Jays and the Terps, felt pretty good about it, and went home. That night I got a call from Scotty. "You guys refereed ONE HELL OF A GAME! I could not be more proud of you", he boomed over the phone. That is all he said. To me that was more than enough.
A week ago, at the conclusion of our weekly meeting, a fellow official approached me and said he was really looking forward to an upcoming game because he was teamed up with Scott Boyle. I asked, "How Come?" his reply: "Because I know I do not have to do anything. The Senator will take care of everything." We laughed, knowing that crew was in good hands. That game was scheduled for Sunday, April 3. The crew had a little more to do that day because Scotty was not there to take care of everything. The entire lacrosse official's community and the game itself will sorely miss one of the best to ever wear the stripes and carry the whistle.
God bless you, Scott Boyle.
Photo Tribute by John Strohsacker
We would be happy to post any rememberences of Scotty that readers want to send. Send them here.
I met Scotty Boyle when I was maybe 12 years old. He was Mr. Boyle then and he was a referee in my youth league in Baltimore County. He was a teaching official. His penalty calls in youth games and some High School games would be accompanied with an explanation for the offending player or a quick lesson about how to avoid a penalty by using better fundamentals.
I reconnected with Mr. Boyle as an adult in my capacity with E-Lacrosse. I see a ton of lacrosse games at every level, mostly in the mid-Atlantic region and Boyle was ever-present. Seven years ago, he and I shared a meal after a road game in an Airport somewhere and had such a good conversation that we became almost instant friends. Mr. Boyle became Scotty. We've shared many hours since, between league games or at hotel bars while traveling, but mostly just on the sidelines during games and parking lots after. Lacrosse was rarely the topic. I know all about his kids, though I've never met them. I know lots about his wife and home, though I've never met her or been there. He was just so proud of his family that they were never far from his consciousness. And yet, many in the game had no idea he was the uncle of lax superstar Ryan Boyle because he never dropped names to make himself seem important.
Scotty officiated in the big college and pro games but he also did the night box games in Baltimore, countless summer league games, high school games everywhere and any lacrosse event or tournament he could get to. I have three trophies for winning and losing championship games and Scotty handed me two of them and officiated for the third. All the Baltimore kids who went off to big Division 1 programs and were good enough to play whole careers in the pros or elite clubs before that knew Scotty as family. He never left them. He was a constant in a game that changed so immensely over that same period of time.
When I was 12, I was an average lacrosse player and a borderline delinquent class clown type, but Scotty made a point to help me out anyway and I wasn't the only one. He never had "grumpy" games or just punched the clock. Scotty probably officiated over 10,000 lacrosse games, with over 5,000 at the youth to High School levels. He was in a position to be a positive influence on over 30,000 kids and another 30,000 young adults. I am not sure how many kids in those games remember Mr. Boyle as prominently as I do, but if even a fraction of them do, his influence was considerable.
Scotty's job, his mission, was to go unnoticed as a referee and he did that very well, but Scott Boyle did not go unnoticed in life. He deftly balanced the professional duties of impartiality as an official with his human responsibilities for caring about the people on the field. Today I am thinking mostly of his family and of the many referees, some friends of mine and some just acquaintances, which were Scotty's best friends and are heartbroken by this great loss.
- John Weaver
I graduated from St. Paul's in '98 and was associated with Scotty's son in the "big brother" program among other things. I can only imagine what the family is going through. Growing up through Cockeysville where I actually played for Scotty's brother Darby with Ryan, to Loch Raven summer leage to MIAA games, Scotty's presence alone could make you smile at game time. You would sit back with the piece of mind that comes when you are about to watch a professional do his very best to keep you safe and maintain the integrity of the game that you and I love. When players used to argue with him about calls, he used to laugh lightheardly, never doubting himself for a second. He was simply a great person.
When I read your section about the conversations you shared with him, it pained me to remember the ones I used to have with him and realize that they'll never be able to happen again. He was someone whose personal integrity eminated in such a subtle manner that an inner contenment seemed obvious. He was always positive and his smile was contageous. People like him are the reason people like you and I have such a addictive love for the sport. We learned, from men like Scotty Boyle, to play with honor. - Jon Ewertz
I always looked forward to seeing Scotty, playing on the same field with him and talking about the indoor game with him.
I think any player, parent, coach or just spectator always got to learn more about the game when he was around just due to his style. He loved lacrosse and worked as hard at what he did as the players out there battling for the win. He was always fair, helpful, and made you a better player if you listened to his calls because he basically taught you the rules in detail like no one else could.
The part I enjoyed most though was having a beer or just talking with him after a game and listening to some of the great stories of games he was a part of. You could feel his passion for the game and see the enjoyment he got from it. He is really going to be missed by myself and Adam not to mention the dozens of others who were lucky enough to have him as part of our lives and the game we love.
Thanks for letting us have a place to thank him for all he did....I know he has that familiar smile on his face right now. - Erik Miller
Last year I was playing some indoor at Duburn's Arena. Somebody on the team I was playing for shot the ball and it bounced off the goalie. I was near the crease and I was trying locate the ball when I got nailed. It was a good one too. I weigh 260 Lbs and I was layed out. I felt like I got hit with a Mike Tyson hook. As I was coming out of my dream like state I could hear some one asking Scotty if he was going to call a penalty for the hit and Scotty's reply was "Why? It was a good hit"
Scott was a class individual who always had a kind thought to share as well as a smile. I will remember him fondly for his kindness both on and off the field. I got to see a great deal of Scott on the field but got to know him better working in the industry and just being around the game. He was a genuine person who always cared about how I was doing and what I was up to. He was always willing to listen, share advice or just offer a quick smile to let you know he truly enjoyed what he doing. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Please let them know he touched many people and made playing lacrosse enjoyable for players at every level.
- Chris Heim
My name is Bob Meunier. My wife (Toni) and I have had the priviledge of knowing Scott and Becky Boyle, as well as their children Scotty and Kelly. My son, Bob, was Scotty Boyle's room-mate and team- mate on the University of Delaware Men's Lacrosse Team for theplast three years. As a founderer and commissioner of the Arlington Youth Lacrosse Club in Arlington, Virginia, I was but a small punctuation mark in the long and distinguished story of this icon in the world of lacrosse. Although I was so fortunate to have spent many hours in the stands next to Scott and Becky, I never fully realized the magnitude of the man I had come to know and enjoy as a friend. I learned more about the rules of this game from him in a single outing, than I had learned in all my years as a coach and commissioner. It is only since his passing that I came to know what a giant of a man heactually was. That is because, Scott Boyle never talked about his own achievements. He was always there, quietly observing and teaching, as well as paying compliments to the players and officials on the field-- but never promoting himself. He was just one the nicest and most genuine people I have ever known.
We were at the Univeristy of Delaware just before the start of the game on that fateful day. Unlike the weather over in Annapolis, the weather was beautiful in Newark, Delaware that day. Just before the game, my son, Bob, had called my wife and me on his cell phone and told us that Scotty's dad had suffered a heart attack on the field during the Navy-Georgetown game. He was upset, to say the least, and Toni and I were devastated--shocked beyond belief. When we arrived at the stadium, all the parents were already sharing the news that Scott had died. All of us were silently thinking about Scott Boyle and his wonderful family as we watched a lacrosse contest from the very seats we shared with Scott and Becky so many times.
The wonderful tribute that e-lacrosse carried on the web to Scott asked the question -- How could God take such a man from us this way, in the mud on the field of a lacrosse game? Of course, no one knows the answer to mankind's oldest inquiry. But as I thought about it that afternoon during the Delaware game, we had heard that Pope John Paul II had just died in Rome at approximately 1:50 PM while having lunch at TGI Friday's across from Rullo Stadium. Later that day, I learned that at almost the same time, Scott Boyle was called to his final reward. I suppose one could come up with a humorous joke about the two of them meeting before St. Peter at the pearly gates and Scotty helping John Paul and Peter to appreciate the finer points of lacrosse. But instead I will just observe, that on that day and at about the same time, two very great gifts to mankind were returned from whence they came. And rather than lament over the loss of Scott Boyle, lets rejoice in having been blessed to have known him as a loving husband, father, and brother; or as a colleague, sportman or friend. The world of lacrosse can not replace him-- it can only honor him by realizing how much better we all are for having known him and shared him. Yes, the world lost two great giants on that spring afternoon. Perhaps their simultaneous departure was more than mere coincidence.
- Bob Meunier, Lacrosse Parent at the
University of Delaware
In my mind, he was the ref. He loved it, he was everywhere and always happy. My fondest memories will be playing summer league games at Gilman where he would ref, the people ranged in age from 18 to over 40, yet he probably refed them all hundreds of times. He's the only ref that I felt like I knew personally after the game. - Kyle Waters
Scotty was a constant figure at Gilman summer league. He could make a Kisling’s vs. Lax World summer league final seem like a Maryland vs. Hopkins game under the lights at Homewood Field. I cherish every penalty flag that Scotty through at me an every explanation he gave. One of the funniest things Scotty did was kicking my roommate (who will remain unnamed) out of a summer league game at Gilman and not starting the game until he walked through the woods to the parking lot. Kisling’s will miss you Scotty.
- Nick Parr
Scott, You were always a class act. I am very proud to say that I knew you and was a friend. I remember 'hanging out' with you and my father after the two of you reffed together, either in college or club games as I was growing up.
R.I.P. Scotty, You will truly be missed. -
Robert Schlenger, Jr.
I believe anyone who officiated with Scotty would think they were quoted in the article. "A week ago, at the conclusion of our weekly meeting, a fellow official approached me and said he was really looking forward to an upcoming game because he was teamed up with Scott Boyle. I asked, "How Come?" his reply: "Because I know I do not have to do anything. The Senator will take care of everything." We laughed, knowing that crew was in good hands.
Prior to the Hopkins Virginia game, Steve Ruppel and myself said they same thing. "Thank God Scotty is here because no one will even notice us!" Everyone in the lacrosse community noticed and respected Scotty. To his family, thanks for sharing him with the lax community. God bless.
- Greg LaCour
Official Posted Obituary published in the Baltimore Sun from 4/4/2005 - 4/5/2005:
BOYLE, D. Scott On April 2, 2005, D. SCOTT BOYLE; beloved husband of Rebecca Seifert Boyle; dear father of E. Kelly and F. Scott Boyle; devoted son-in-law of Isabel K. Seifert; devoted brother of F. Darby and B. Bruce Boyle, K. Lacy Flynn and C. Downey Dress. Also survived by nieces and nephews. Friends may call at the family owned Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home,Inc., 6500 York Road (at Overbrook), on Tuesday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 P.M. A Funeral Mass will be offered Wednesday, 10:30 A.M. at Immaculate Conception Church (Towson). Interment private. Please omit flowers. Contributions may be made to U.S. Lacrosse,, 113 W. University Prkwy, Baltimore, 21210.
Baltimore Sun Story: Longtime lacrosse official collapses at Navy game