Keith Bugbee: Leaving a Legacy at Springfield College

Greg Fitzpatrick
Staff Writer

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Springfield College Athletics
Photo Credit: Springfield College Athletics

As you approach Stagg Field, hearing the sounds of the whistles blowing and the cleats pounding into the turf, the Springfield College Men’s Lacrosse team will be using every last effort they have in order to outlast their opponent.

It takes all 10 players on the field to be at their best in order to win, but the very calm and collective figure standing by the sidelines is the rock of the Springfield College Men’s Lacrosse program.

Entering an astounding 32nd season at the helm, Head Coach Keith Bugbee is a humbling man more than willing to credit his success to the performers on the field.

Having a rather impressive record of 342 wins, 19 NCAA tournament berths, and a 1994 NCAA Division 2 National Championship, it is safe to say Bugbee’s success is almost undeniable.

On January 7, it was announced that Bugbee was selected as an inductee into the Western Massachusetts Lacrosse Hall of Fame 2015 class; a class that included fellow Springfield graduates and lacrosse alumni Edward Carey ’91, Russell Mooney ’79, and William Togneri ’81. There were a total of five Springfield College alumni out of the 10 inductees.

“I had about 25 Springfield grads at the [induction ceremony].  A lot of current players and former players came,” said Bugbee. “I was honored. I was humbled by it, you know.”

The induction ceremony took place at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield on January 14.  Bugbee and the other inductees were honored at the center court of the hall of fame with the basketball lights shining bright.

“To be in that environment was just awesome,” Bugbee added.

The Springfield alumni continued to represent.  Robert Young, who played for Bugbee through the 1983-1985 seasons, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

The amount of support that Bugbee got for his achievement was gratifying.  His current players were quick to compliment their coach.

“When I heard that Coach Bugbee got inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was not surprised, he belongs there,” said current player and senior captain Frank Verde.

The support didn’t come just from his players as even a closer part of Bugbee’s life was there for his recent accomplishment –

His family

Bugbee’s daughter, Jenna, a grad student at Springfield College, was quick to note her father’s incredible unselfishness.

“Dad is so loyal to the sport of lacrosse and to all those he has met throughout his career. He puts everyone else’s needs before his, which I think is why his players respect and love him the way they do,” said Jenna.

Jenna was impressed with the induction ceremony and revealing that her father’s greatest talents weren’t just coaching lacrosse games.

“A real tribute to dad, because all those people showed up to support him because he means so much to them, and has been such a prominent part of their lives.”

Bugbee’s long and successful tenure as the lacrosse coach has also connected him with being involved with a copious amount of influential people throughout his journey.  Bugbee claimed that long-time UMass lacrosse coach Dick Garber was his biggest inspiration.

The New England Lacrosse Journal tabbed Garber as New England’s greatest coach off all time and Bugbee ranked at third. Garber was also a Springfield College alum of ‘50.

“It wasn’t because he was an alum, he was just a great guy,” Bugbee said.

Garber, a man who was the first collegiate lacrosse coach to reach 300 victories, was a mentor for Bugbee. He was the man that Bugbee had to go past in order to be the winningest lacrosse coach in New England history.  In Bugbee’s eyes, successful lacrosse in New England tends to be surrounded by a Springfield College connection one way or the other.

“You can’t escape it,” said Bugbee.

Bugbee especially leaned on Garber early into his coaching career.  Springfield College gave Bugbee the head coaching job at 25 years old.

“I was pretty wet behind the ears I think at 25 years old, I mean, so I really learned a lot from some of these veterans,” Bugbee said.

Exactly 32 years have flashed before Bugbee’s eyes and now he is a man with an upstanding amount of experience under his belt.  It is unknown when Bugbee will step down from the historical reigns, but he already knows what will impact him the most.

“When I’m retired and done coaching, I know what will mean the most to me is the players,” said Bugbee. “That’s way more important to me than anything else.”

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