By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/17/09
BALTIMORE – In typical fashion, Radnor’s Peter Samson humbly accepted a most prestigious honor here this morning at the US Lacrosse National Convention.
Samson, the founder of the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival and Radnor Youth Lacrosse, was given the Founder’s Circle at the Youth Excellence Awards Banquet.
Samson’s honor is special enough that it is not given on an annual basis; rather only when it is warranted. But after helping develop the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival into one of the top high school events in the nation in nine years and devoting 20 years to making Radnor Youth Lacrosse a highly respected organization, lacrosse officials in Philadelphia made it their point to nominate Samson.
Samson, though, preferred to credit the two top Festival directors, Bill German andKathy Early as well as Dr. Murray Grossman, the Katie Samson Foundation President, and the many youth coaches and officials that have made his tenure so worthwhile.
“I’m happy to get the award, but it really represents so many more people than me,” Samson said. “I’m just a part of the Festival. I’m nominally identified with it, but it’s the people like Bill German and Kathy Early and Dr. Murray Grossman and all the others.”
The Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival was created in the spirit of Samson’s daughter, a standout player at Radnor High and Middlebury College who in 2000 was paralyzed from the waist down after a sledding accident. The Radnor community bonded together after the accident to support the Samson family and the Festival emerged as the ideal event to recognize her spirit to live a full life and focus on abilities rather than disabilities.
Since the Katie Samson Festival and Foundation were developed, more than $800,000 has been raised for research and short-term aid for patients of spinal cord injury.
“I think the parents of the kids I coach are the people that got together and said, ‘Let’s do this,’” Samson recalled. “When my daughter was injured, before she got to rehab, they had already raised enough money for a van for her.
“Really the whole lacrosse community in the Philadelphia area has supported the Festival and supported the effort.”
Samson is equally proud of the support for the Radnor Youth Lacrosse, recognized throughout the region for it’s boys’ and girls’ programs. Last year, many Radnor Youth Lacrosse graduates made up the Radnor High girls’ team that went 23-0 and won the District 1 Class AAA championship while receiving a ranking in the Top 10 of every major national poll.
Samson also noted how youth lacrosse has grown in the Philadelphia area and beyond.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “When I started the Radnor program, there was only one league, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Youth Lacrosse Association (SEPYLA).
“There may have been 10 or 12 programs back then. Now, I think it’s close to 40 and we have had a lot of expansion in the Southern Division. That’s well saturated; now expansion is North and West.”
This year’s 9th Annual Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival is going to be the biggest yet. The event, slated for Saturday, April 25 at Radnor High, will feature 52 teams (26 games) on six fields and most of the top-ranked boys’ and girls’ public and private teams in the Delaware Valley.