By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/15/15
The Philadelphia lacrosse community is mourning the loss of former West Chester University and St. Joseph’s University men’s lacrosse coach Pat Cullinan, who died today at 58 after a lengthy bout with cancer.
Cullinan, known as “Coach Pat” coached the past four years as an assistant at Downingtown East. He was head coach at St. Joseph’s for seven years and at West Chester for four years after serving there as a longtime assistant. He also was the first head coach at Glen Mills.
Cullinan was beloved by his players and colleagues and continued his love of coaching despite being ill for more than five years.
“Pat inspired and set a great example to so many players he coached,” said Downingtown East head coach Todd Cliggett. “He was a motivator, role model and so knowledgeable about the game and about life. It is a very sad day in the lacrosse world. He was one of a kind!
“For five years he fought this and never missed a beat and never complained. Pat had no agenda. He did it for the right reason, to give back to the sport. It’s a terrible loss for the lacrosse community. ”
“To me he was the guy who put people first and just cared about the individuals and everybody around him,” said Avon Grove coach Eric Jackson, who played for Cullinan at West Chester from 1992-95. “He was just a very loyal friend to his players. We all loved him.
“He had a lot of personality on and off the field, and a lot of flair. He created some great memories for all of us. He set a good example and inspired a lot of people. He was just super motivated and a driven, passionate person.”
Jackson is one of several of Cullinan’s players that went on to become a head coach for Philly high school teams. Three years ago Jackson helped plan a major fundraising alumni game to raise money for the American Cancer Society in Cullinan’s name.
Another of Cullinan’s disciples is Jason McGee, who played for Cullinan in the early 1990s at West Chester and then coached with him there and at St. Joseph’s.
“Pat was is certainly a pillar of strength,” said McGee. “I want to remember him being the older guy that couldn’t wait to get out on the field and get practice stated – more so than the kids!
“His enthusiasm was infectious. He taught me so much more about how to be a good person and a man than any coach every taught me about lacrosse. The amount of kids that he was involved with that were or are coaching in the area is astounding. Every one of them would, to a man, attribute their love for and their desire to coach to Pat.”
Cullinan took over as the head coach of St. Joe’s in 2005 and was named the MAAC Coach of the Year in 2006. In 2007, he took the Hawks to the MAAC championship game. St. Joe’s finished .500 or better in the MAAC four straight years from 2006-2009, but struggled mightily in its first season in the CAA this year, finishing 0-12 overall.
Cullinan previously spent 15 years at West Chester University, the final four as the Rams’ head coach, twice earning New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors.
Cullinan, a native of Upstate New York who graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 1979, was hired after serving one year as an assistant coach (2004) immediately following his four-year stint as the head man at West Chester (1999-2003).
While at West Chester, Cullinan guided the Golden Rams to the ECAC Division II Championship game both in 1999 and 2002 and to the nation’s number-nine ranking in 2003 season. Cullinan also received NYCAC Coach of the Year honors for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. In addition to his on-the-field achievements, Cullinan was also the director of the Golden Ram Boys’ Lacrosse Camp and organized both a coaches and players clinic for the Chester County Youth Lacrosse Association. Prior to taking over as head coach at WCU in 1999, he spent a decade (1989-99) as a Ram assistant. He was instrumental in guiding West Chester to a pair of ECAC Division II titles in 1994 and 1998.
Before making the move to the collegiate level, Cullinan started the lacrosse program at Glen Mills High School and was the head coach there for seven years (1981-87).
Cullinan was a two-sport standout in lacrosse and football at Lebanon Valley. An alternate to the North-South College All-Star team as a senior, he was a four-year starter in the lacrosse midfield and two-time captain.