Paul Gait's 2002 Farewell Tour

I have only had the pleasure to meet Paul Gait once in my life, but it was a memorable experience. I picked up lacrosse during my sophomore year of high school and I loved the sport. I played in Central Florida and because it wasn't a hotbed of lacrosse I decided to go to Gait Camp at Goucher College that summer to get better. As my friends and I stepped off the bus at the college we were instantly called the "Florida" boys since everyone else there was from Maryland or New York. We stuck out like sore thumbs, but the Gaits did everything to make us feel welcome.

It was later that week that Paul took us into the gym to show us wall ball skills and this was a very interesting day for me. As Paul shifted to the behind the back pass drill against the wall, he showed us how to do it so fluidly and easily. On my first attempt I think I hit myself with the stick but I started to get the hang of it. That is, until I threw one too hard and it actually bounced off the wall and hit Paul in the head. I know he was quite surprised by the look on his face and I thought I was going to be in for it. Instead, he just looked at me, smiled and told me to keep working at it. Gait camp was something I will never forget because it made me want to play more lacrosse. It motivated me to play in college at UPenn, and now I am the head coach of Oxford University lacrosse in England. I would like to thank him for his influence on my lacrosse career and give him my best wishes for his future endeavors.

- Alex Lee

Rutgers Universtiy - '91 Lacrosse Finals - Memorial Day weekend. What a game! Actually, all I remember about the game is that Syracuse won (surprise, surprise). What I remember more vividly Paul and Gary hanging out after the game (with Matt Palumb - the goalie that year) signing autographs for the fans and being perfect ambassadors for the game. The sport of lacrosse really needed Paul and Gary to do that and even though they were in college, they knew it. They knew they were the Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky of Lacrosse and they accepted it with grace and dignity. I recently got to see the two of them in the MLL and it meant so much to me to be able to see them one last time. Thanks Paul and Gary for the memories.

- Steven Wojtowicz

Many years ago, I took my identical twin sons, Charley and Chris, to Ullman's Lacrosse, located in Timonium, Maryland, on a Saturday afternoon to look at sticks and equipment. Much to our surprise, Paul and Gary Gait were there. Jim Ullman had invited them as a promotion for his store.

We walked around to look at all the inventory and were then invited to the back part of the store where all the extra inventory was kept. There was a narrow hallway and at one end of the hallway was a lacrosse goal. Paul Gait was seated behind the goal with a speed gun. Gary was at the other end with a stick and ball. There might have been as many as ten people there to watch. Gary took the ball and started shooting. He ripped one right after another...upper right...upper left. After each shot Paul would read the speed. Gary then asked others, who were watching if they wanted to shoot. Some did and others did not.

After the spectators finished shooting, Gary and Paul switched places. Paul started cranking the ball and it was clear that his shot was faster than his brother's shot. It was kind of neat watching Charley and Chris watch Paul and Gary, identical twins watching identical twins.

Paul fired off five or six shots and everyone watched in amazement. Then, Paul cranked a real hard shot. Like all the others we expected to see the ball hit its mark, but the shot went high. All of a sudden, we heard a bang and saw light entering the building. Paul's shot was so hard that it cleared the top of the goal and put a perfect hole in the wall ten to fifteen feet behind the goal. The sunlight entered through the hole into the building. Everyone just stood there in amazement and then began laughing because it was so unbelievable that he had put a hole in the wall of Ullman's.

After that, we returned to the main store area and continued to talked about that amazing shot and haven't stopped since.

My son's are both playing college lacrosse now. Charley is a freshman at UNC and Chris is a freshman at Denison.

- Charley Conkling

Send us your Paul Gait stories!

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Photos by John Strohsacker, Bill Welsh and E-Lacrosse Staff

Paul in OT over Toronto in 2002! More videos later.

Catch Paul's Next Game: Washington Power v. New York Saints, January 26 at Washington!

Send Paul a thank you note for a great career or anything!

Hey Paul,
I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I play attack for Pike's varsity team and I'm a co-captain. It's also my first year. I scored two goals in my first game ever. It was the greatest feeling ever in my life. But I just want to tell you that you are going to be missed in the game of lacrosse. You and Gary have made the sport of lacrosse with the help of these guys named Powell. You have paved the way for so many players. Lots and lots of people try to emulate their game to be like yours. It was really sad to see you walk off that field at the end of the semi against Toronto. You guys also got cheated that game too. But thanks a lot for making lacrosse become a better sport and having it become primetime. Good luck. - Jerry

Thank you!
You know that Toronto would not have stood a chance if you had been at full strength Friday night! It sure was an exciting game though even if it was your last :( I just wanted to wish you all the best in your future endeavors and let you know that I really enjoyed watching you play these last few years. - Beth

I've been watching you for many years and you have been an inspiration to me and now my 8 year old step son who got to see you for the first time this past summer. I watched you for many years and it was always a great show and a great time sorry to see you go. Always a fan. - Keith McKeone

Thank you Mr Gait for all you have done for the sport of lacrosse. You have revolutionized the game in the way it is played and the different sticks you have come up with. I only wish I could have watched you play more. Good Luck in the future and I hope you continue designing excellent products. My favorite moments of you are the hidden ball trick you and your brother excelled at as well as the AIR GAIT. Thanks again and Id love to have you reply to this. - Shawn

I play right outside of Philadelphia where lacrosse gets bigger and bigger every day. I would just like thank you for the career that you have put together and the inspiration that you have given to me and so many others. I watch the clips of the games that you have played and continue to play and I am always amazed. You make me want to pick up my stick and play. I'm always trying to see what moves your doing and trying them, and I must say you're a very hard act to follow. I can only appreciate what you have done and continue to do for the sport of lacrosse in making it another big name in the game of sports. It's going to be sad to see you retire but you certainly will not be forgotten. I hope to be playing at least one of the levels that you have achieved in your career, but it just shows me how much practice and determination I need to get to that level. - Josh M.

I'm 13 and I'm from Houston, Texas. I play lacrosse for my school. I just wanted to say that I appreciate everything you've done for the great sport of lacrosse. At all the camps, all the coaches I've talked to, everything about lacrosse, your name always comes up. You're unbelievable and I, myself, really look up to you and I hope one day I can become half as great as you are in the sport of lacrosse. Thanks for everything. - Will

Hey Paul,
I am 13 and a HUGE fan of yours. We have actually met a few times in the past at lacrosse camps I attended when you came to Willam and Mary College and put on a show for me and my fellow campers to watch. Today I had my try-outs for a 7th and 8th grade "A" team! I gave it my all and hope to make it. You have been an inspiration to me and I thank you very much. If you don't write me back I will think nothing of it. Thank you! - Johnny I.

I've always thought you and Gary were the best things that happened to lacrosse since I've known the game. The first lacrosse game I ever saw on TV was the Syracuse championship game in the Dome and it was one of the most exciting athletic contests in any sport I've seen then or since. I think you and Gary helped take the excitement and athleticism of the game to another level with multiple dodges, "Air Gait" and your pinpoint passing and shooting skills. I've only played against you, several times in Vail and once in a "friendly" right before the 1998 World Games (thanks to Capital and Tristan for letting me join them) but I know you're gonna be missed by your contemporaries like me and by the kids coming into the game. Best of luck this season and with all you do in the future. - Matt

I am really sad to hear that you are retiring, I have watched you play for as long as I can remember. I'm from Nanimo and I always went to Victoria to see you and your brother play. You 2 have been a big influence on my lacrosse career. I have done many things in my career, played for team BC and won the nationals, am going to hopefully play for Team Canada U-19, and I am also going to be going to the USA to play division 1 lacrosse. Unfortunately I wont be playing junior a with the shamrocks, but against them. I wish you the best of luck in the future with what ever you do. - Justin

Thanks Paul,
I have idolized you since I started playing. My first ever stick had a picture of you and Gary that came with it. I still have the stick and the little card. Growing up where lacrosse isn't very big the only articles about lacrosse I ever read had something to do with you. Thanks. - Craig

Mr. Gait,
I am a First Nation young man from Brentwood Bay. I am from the Tsartlip Nation. I have watched you play in the NLL for the years that it has been televised and I am always amazed by the work that you do. I try to see what stick you are using and what gear you use. I also would like to check out the pocket you are currently using. I am 26 and only play in the Esquimalt rec league and wonder what it would be like to play in the leagues that you have played in. But you have inspired me and others to give it our best even if not professionals. Thank you again Mr. Gait for all you have done to promote the Creator's Game. I hope that one day you will come home to Brentwood to share your knowledge of the box game with the children. - Paul S

Congrats on a great career. I still enjoy thinking back to the days at Cuse and how you and Gary carried us to win 3 Rings. That 1990 Team is still Legendary. You have done so much for the game of Lacrosse. I still remember Burki's amazement of your abilities the day he met you guys when you first came to SU. Its been fun to watch you continue to succeed at the pro level. Best of Luck. - Dennis Simmons

Just a note to say thanks. Your character on the field is what inspires me most. The composure you show really seems to put you on a level as that of many of history's greats. Lacrosse has been fundamental in giving me hope to get through life's challenges. You are much a part of that inspiration. Thank you very much for the memories and the inspiration. My family will be grateful for many years to come. I wish you many great blessings in you retirement. - Herbert W. Hollidge

Thanks for teaching me so much about the game without even knowing it. I grew up in Baltimore but we used to get the Syracuse games on tape delay and I taped every one of them. You and your brother were my unknowing tutors for years. I still pop one of those tapes in to show kids I coach what the game can look like. You are still teaching! - Brian K.

I am Canadian, living in Baltimore, and I cannot tell you what a charge it is to always be able to say the best players in the game are Canadian. Thanks to you and a couple others, this is true! - Curt

I played with you on countless club and summer fields and we were never introduced, but I always considered myself a fan in those games who was just lucky enough to play in an era where the best "slum" it with the likes of me for the love of the game. For that I thank you! - Lax Cat

What are you doing?? You have a good ten years left in you! I love the deBeer designs and know you have a family and stuff but, I saw a Power game this year and you won it in overtime with a BEHIND THE BACK shot! Why retire? You are the best in the game. - Ray from Fairfax

I play on Long Island and always said to my friends that you and your brother were over rated, but I only did 'cause I never saw you. This summer I did see you guys and Casey, who was god to me before that. But you are better and your brother is great too and I have told my friends I think so. They just laughed at me cause they knew already, I guess. So thanks for winning a championship for the Lizards and please win another this year. - D.