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Former Lower Merion, Virginia great Christmas hired as volunteer assistant at Pennsylvania

Wednesday, 21st October 2009

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Features, Posted 10/22/09

Philadelphia lacrosse great John Christmas has been hired as a volunteer assistant for the Pennsylvania men’s team.

Christmas, a scholastic All-American at Lower Merion from 1999-2001, also was a two-time collegiate All-American and a national champion at Virginia who has played professionally for the Philadelphia Wings (National Lacrosse League) and Boston Cannons (Major League Lacrosse).

Under first-year head coach Mike Murphy at Penn, Christmas joins assistant Chris Wojcik and first-year assistant Brian Dougherty (Episcopal Academy grad).

“We are very excited to have John Christmas join our staff,” said Murphy. “He brings a vast knowledge of the game and an excellent ability to teach.

“He is terrific at developing offensive skills and will be a tremendous resource for our players. Additionally, John is one of the best players to come out of the Philadelphia area and a great ambassador for our program here in the Philadelphia lacrosse community.

“He is also a leader in bringing lacrosse to the inner-city kids of Philadelphia and will help our players give back to the sport and the local community. I could not be happier with the staff that we have assembled here at Penn.”

Christmas is co-director of the L.E.A.P.S. program, a non-profit organization he and Eric Gregg founded 11 months ago to build lacrosse programs in the inner city and in under-served areas.

Christmas has a solid coaching background, too. He has been a coach with the nationally-ranked Duke’s Lacrosse Club since 2005 and served as an assistant at Lower Merion from 2006-09.

“I’m thrilled to be at a university like Penn,” said Christmas. “The history and energy on campus is exciting, and it’s also great to be able to help coach a top-notch university in my hometown. The support for the lacrosse team and staff is first-rate, and I look forward to giving the players 100 percent.”

Christmas is generally considered one of the most decorated lacrosse players from the Philly region. At Virginia, he was an NCAA all-tournament selection in 2002 when Virginia made the NCAA semifinal round.

He was the leading goalscorer for UVA’s 2003 national championship squad. In 2005, Christmas earned the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player honor as the Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA semifinal round.

Following that, Christmas moved on to the MLL where he has played for the Boston Cannons. He was a 2006 MLL All-Star selection and earned the league’s Most Improved Player award that season.

Christmas also runs 141 Lacrosse, which provides individual and small group training as well as setting up camps, clinics and tournaments nationwide.

Christmas graduated from Lower Merion as the state’s all-time leading scorer and remains the only player in Pennsylvania state history to earn All-America honors three times.

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