By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/11/10
Thirty-four after moving out West and leading the expansion of lacrosse in California, Pottstown’s Barbara Longstreth has been recognized for her contributions to the sport.
Longstreth, a Haverford High and Beaver College graduate who played with the US team for 11 years out of Philadelphia in the 1950s and ‘60s, was honored for her stint as a pioneer of lacrosse in California Feb. 27 when she was inducted into the Northern California Chapter of the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Longstreth, known also for starting Longstreth’s sporting goods, was unable to attend the banquet at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco due to snow. Speaking on her behalf was Heidi Faith, one of Longstreth’s former players in lacrosse and field hockey.
“I am truly sorry she is not here for her induction as she is the greatest coaches I have ever known,” said Faith in her openings words. “I never did see Barb play, but her athletic accomplishment at a time when women were not encouraged nor accepted to be athletic is remarkable.”
Longstreth was the captain for Haverford High’s lacrosse team in 1954 and then starred at Beaver, serving as captain in 1957 and 1958. Her skills were so recognized that she was chosen to play on the U.S. team as a sophomore.
Longstreth was a teacher and coach at Harriton High in the 1970s when she decided to accept a job as a field hockey coach and part-time professor at Long Beach State in Long Beach.
At that time, very few California men or women played lacrosse and no colleges offered the sport. Longstreth got her hockey players to play it at the club level and even organized a squad in 1977 to play the Australian National Team in its first US tour.
Soon Longstrsth was offered a job of teaching and coaching hockey at Stanford. While she coached varsity field hockey, she built up the club lacrosse team there and also helped start club teams at Palo Alto and Berkeley as well as Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.
Longstreth also took a California team back East to play in the National Tournament at a time when all the top players came from the East Coast.
Besides coaching her own club team and helping get others started, Longstreth also taught women to be umpires while she ran clinics to teach the sport to newcomers. In 1981, she decided to come back East – mainly because she was tired of the rigors of coaching field hockey at the major Division I level.
Faith said Longstreth embodied the ultimate leader for the sport of lacrosse.
“There are many people who are more than a name on an award,” Faith said. “There are some who are more than great players, visionaries, pioneers, coaches and mentors. There is a very select few who are all of them.
“If you are lucky they become friends, which is truly the greatest award because it is not given but received. Barbara Longstreth is such an individual. I am accepting this award on her behalf.”
By the time Longstreth left Califonria, the seeds had been planted. In recent years the sport has exploded in California, but lacrosse leaders understand Longstreth’s arrival was essential to kick-starting the women’s game there.
“I am just very humbled by the recognition,” she said. “I love the game and I love athletics. I was happy to do my part to introduce the game.”