A place in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame isn't easy to earn.
Over six decades, fewer than 250 men and women have been inducted. In May, Doug Knight was one of six former players to receive the invitation. It was a phone call that left him speechless.
"It took my breath away a little," said Knight, who grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Haverford with his family. "It was an incredibly humbling moment."
As a freshman at Virginia in 1994, Knight became famous for diving. To attack the goal, he often threw himself airborne, sometimes launching parallel to the ground to slingshot the ball into the net.
The move skated around the strict rules of the crease, a nine-foot arc around the goal mouth that attackers are forbidden to cross. Knight couldn't step foot in the crease. But as long as he scored before his body hit the ground, the shot was legal. He wasn't the first player known to use the dive, but his team was the first to perfect it.
"It made the way we played and attacked really fun," said Knight, who is to be inducted on Sept. 23 at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md. "We wanted to score, and we were willing to do whatever it took. If that meant bending the rules a bit, well, we didn't really mind."
Knight was never traditional. He played without socks and slung his stick low, his bow-legged stance reminiscent of his days playing hockey. Yet over four years from 1994-97, Knight scored 286 goals for Virginia, setting a school record by netting 56 in his junior season.
Despite making the finals in his freshman and junior years, his team never won the national championship, so he stayed as an assistant coach until the 1999 season ended with an NCAA title. Knight ended his career with Virginia after the championship. He isn't one to live in the past.
Knight is grateful for the honor, he said. But for him, the place in the Hall of Fame is a memorial to his time as player, his years with his Virginia team, the camp in Nantucket where he met his wife, his weekends watching his three boys learn the sport in his backyard. Although his time as a lacrosse star has passed, Knight said he cherishes its impact on his life.
"I used to [say] that I would give anything to go back and win the national championship with my team," Knight said. "Now, I [say] that I would give anything to go back and just be with my team. There's truly nothing like those years that I spent with them."