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Lacrosse pioneer Randy Mills, 83, passes away at N.C. residence; started men’s programs at Cabrini, Neumann

Monday, 27th June 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Features, Posted 6/27/11
Staff Report

Randolph P. “Randy” Mills Jr., 83, of Mount Holly, N.C., who pioneered the men’s lacrosse programs at Cabrini College and Neumann University, died Friday at his residence.

Mr. Mills was born Jan. 13, 1928, on Long Island, N.Y. Coach Mills was known as the “Johnny Appleseed” of lacrosse for founding the two Philadelphia programs as well as many other NCAA and club programs around the nation. He also was formerly coach at Valley Forge Military Academy and served as a board member for the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association (PLA).

His most recent coaching venture was at Lake Norman Charter School in North Carolina.

In 2002, the PLA selected Mr. Mills to receive the “Madam Award,” which is given to a deserving person in the lacrosse community “for dedication, devotion and volunteer service to promote the game of lacrosse in Eastern Pennsylvania.”

He also was a U.S. Navy veteran.

Mr. Mills started the Cabrini program in 1995 and posted a record of 3-9 as head coach. He was 7-5 the next season and then went to nearby Neumann and started that program there in 1998 when he went an amazing 12-1. The following year his Knights were 10-4 and the runners-up in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference. In his last year in 2000, Neumann went 5-9.

One of Mills’ first recruits at Cabrini for the 1995 team was Michael Friel, a key member of Ridley High’s 1994 state championship team. Friel started all four years at Cabrini and later became an assistant coach under current coach Steve Colfer for four years before taking the head coaching job at Springfield-Delco. Friel is now the athletic director at Radnor.

“He (Mills) sold it to us he wanted guys from the Central League and he told us we would play right away,” Friel said. “I came in with Eric Udovich, who was my best friend since first grade and another member of the Ridley state championship team.”

When Mills left for Neumann, Pat Scarpello coached Cabrini for four years. Then Colfer took over and has won 11 straight Colonial State Athletic Conference (formerly Pennsylvania Athletic Conference) championships.

Friel, who was an English teacher and assistant football coach at Ridley before taking the AD job at Radnor last summer, credited Mills for pushing him to become a teacher and a coach.

“Coach Mills loved lacrosse,” said Friel. “It’s all he ever talked about, or did. You want to talk about a guy who ate and slept lacrosse … he was on campus all the time and sold us that we were going to do something there.

“He was right! Obviously, Steve has done an unbelievable job there.

“And I have to be honest. Coach Mills was one of the first people that turned me on to teaching. By the time I got there, I knew I wanted to be a teacher and a coach for the rest of my life.”

Survivors include his loving wife of 40 years, Marylyn Spader Mills; and sons, Randy, Steve, Pastor Pete, Kevin and Tom; and 15 grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at First United Methodist Church of Mount Holly with the Rev. Angela Pleasants officiating.

Visitation will be from 1-2 p.m. at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Coach Mills’ memory to The Leukemia and Lymphomia Society, 1311 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 310, White Plains, NY 10605 or to First United Methodist Church, 140 North Main St., Mount Holly, NC 28120 or the American Cancer Society.

Arrangements handled by Benson Funeral Director, Lic.


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