Sports

Usher, Smith make Hall of Fame

Laurie Usher (left) celebrates a championship with her Bainbridge girls lacrosse team in 1996. - Courtesy of Laurie Usher
Laurie Usher (left) celebrates a championship with her Bainbridge girls lacrosse team in 1996.
— image credit: Courtesy of Laurie Usher

Legends of lacrosse are honored for their work pioneering the sport on Bainbridge.

Two names synonymous with lacrosse in Kitsap County have been recognized for their efforts by the Washington State Lacrosse Foundation.

Laurie Usher and Everet “Smitty” Smith Sr., along with nine others, were part of the inaugural class for the WSLF Hall Of Fame.

Usher is well known on the island for her creation of and success with the girls high school lacrosse team. It was founded in 1987,

She coached the team to six league titles and three straight state championships from 1994 to 1996 and went undefeated for the last two years as well.

That’s in addition to being an official, a league president, an equipment dealer and a photographer of lacrosse.

“For me, it was one of the most unique, creative sports because in girls lacrosse, there are no boundaries,” she said of her life-long involvement. “It’s the boundaries of the natural field area, and at the time I played, there were no offsides, so we could go anywhere we wanted to. It was like basketball but without sidelines.”

Usher first became involved in the sport back in Pennsylvania, playing varsity for Downingtown. She wanted to play for Penn State, but a knee injury forced her to play with the Central Penn Club.

When she moved out here, Usher became the sports superintendent for the park district and played for a club team in Seattle. It was there that a men’s player wanted to start a boy’s lacrosse team.

“I told him, ‘Well, we have to start a girls team,’” she said. “So both of us started teams as volunteers.”

The other teams were created by her club teammates and fellow inductees – Lynn Hyde (Mills) at Lakeside and Lisa Methfessel Patton at the Greenwood Boys & Girls Club.

For the next few years, the three teams played each other until the league expanded. From there, Usher enjoyed success thanks to coaching numerous talented players – she had 10 All-Americans play for her – and her approach to the game.

“I’m not the greatest strategist, but I’m really good at basic skills,” she said. “Then I really started working with the sports psychology aspect. Together, we visualized where we wanted to go.”

Usher often let the players design their own plays, splitting them up into groups for creative problem solving.

She also gave credit to a class she took from Colleen Hacker at Pacific Lutheran University, who also doubled as the sports psychologist for the U.S. women’s soccer team, to help her in the topic.

Armed with the knowledge, she worked with her squad on setting goals and visualizing their success on the field, specializing in developing relaxation techniques to calm their nerves.

They even participated in a beach cleanup on Earth Day to promote team unity.

It worked, and the use of psychology provided one of Usher’s most favorite moments.

“In the 1996 championship game, I told Karen Beck at halftime to get the ball at the center draw and go down and score – and darn if she did it,” she said. “To this day we still talk about it. She said, ‘Yeah, that really worked!’”

When she got a job in Olympia, the commute was too much and Usher left the team.

“It was really hard to leave,” she said. “There’s certainly no better place to coach than Bainbridge. It’s a very supportive community, great people and a great program.”

But Usher still stuck with lacrosse, coaching at the middle and intermediate schools along with creating and working with boys and girls programs at the elementary school for the next decade.

After that, she helped coach the North Kitsap Varsity B team to a state championship and, last year, started a program at Klahowya Secondary consisting of kids from Olympic, Central Kitsap, and Klahowya, along with kids from Fairview and Central Kitsap Junior High.

Currently, she teaches photography at Olympic College and runs her environmental consulting business along with lacrosse camps for kids. She will be a consultant for teams this year.

But she doesn’t rule out a return to the sideline.

“It depends on my life situation and what I’m doing at the time,” she said. “It’s hard to do it every day, but I could do it a couple times a week.

“Every time I do it, I realize just how much I miss it,” she continued. “I really do love it.”

Smith was another person who really loved lacrosse.

After starting his first team in Massachusetts in 1974, he and his family eventually moved to Redmond.

He got a job at Boeing and started a business selling equipment out of his garage.

From there, he worked to start numerous clubs and girls lacrosse teams, officiated games and provided equipment to teams.

He also organized many jamborees for Bainbridge, which involved teams from Canada, and provided equipment as well. Everet also became involved in soccer and was a Boy and Girl Scout leader along with driving the bus for the boys swim team.

According to his son Erik, that’s the kind of person he was.

“If he wanted to officiate, he’d buy a rule book,” he said. “If he wanted to drive the bus, he’d get a license. He was a pretty amazing guy in a lot of ways.

“He was a real supportive guy,” Erik continued. “He was never pushy and really was ahead of his time in his ethics in regards to sportsmanship on the field.”

Everet moved to Poulsbo to start the boys and girls teams before his death in 1993 of liver cancer.

But Erik and his son Adam continue what Everet started.

Erik is the founding chairman of the Washington Lacrosse Officials Association, while Adam is a team captain and preseason All-American at Bryant University in Providence, R.I.

He said he feels no pressure in continuing what his father has done for lacrosse in Washington state.

“I actually don’t feel like I have to live up to his name,” he said. “I feel like I get to share in that legacy. There’s a nice model in how to do it. I feel like if other people get to a stumbling block, we can say, ‘Here’s how to get around it.’”

And the honor of Everet being named to the Hall of Fame is a good reward for all his work over the years.

“I think it’s nice that he gets that kind of recognition,” Erik said. “He put in time and effort with a lot of kids.

“The number of people he worked with in the ‘80s and ‘90s might have quit if they didn’t have that kind of motivation (he had.)”

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