By Keith Mills
Remember the “Ten Bears,” the Morgan State lacrosse team of the 1970s?
The first all-African American collegiate lacrosse team, organized and coached by Chip Silverman, a white Jewish entrepreneur from Forest Park, featured such local standouts as Wayne Jackson, Stan Cherry, Joe Foulkes, Tony Fulton, Miles Harrison and Curt Anderson. That team was documented in the now-famous book written by Silverman and Dr. Miles Harrison in 2001.
Well the Ten Bears are back, sort of, and the team is again loaded with local high school players. A club team now, a team not sanctioned by the NCAA, Morgan plays in the National College Lacrosse League (NCLL) against other club teams. The Morgan Bears Lacrosse Club is a team that once again features a white coach and a group of black players who love the game and represent Morgan State on lacrosse fields all over the region.
"There was a long history of lacrosse at Morgan but no continuity," said coach Bill Krehnbrink. "So they got a club team together and have been playing for about three and a half years. They've always had a player-coach up until now. I think they figured if they were going to play better they really needed somebody to coach them. The guys got together and decided on a coach. I'm the guy."
Krehnbrink is a retired Baltimore City schoolteacher who coached many of Morgan's players at W.E.B. Dubois High in West Baltimore. Dubois produced a handful of players on the current Morgan team, including Virgil Orsot, a junior finance major who played soccer and lacrosse at Dubois and is an NCLL all-league goaltender; and midfielder Adrian Thomas, an elementary education major and four-year starter at Dubois.
"Virgil wants to be an accountant," said Krehnbrink. "He's a tough kid who can really play goal, and Adrian wants to be a math teacher. He can get up and down the field. Both are really tough kids.”
Krehnbrink, Orsot and Thomas are also veterans of Baltimore City's Black Lax lacrosse program. Krehnbrink assisted coach Donnie Brown while Orsot, Thomas, Mitchell Waters, Leonard Shaw and Kareem McKnight also played in the Black Lax program, which has been home to many of the current Morgan players.
Waters is a senior physical education major who went to Carver High School and helped start the Morgan program four years ago when he was a freshman.
Shaw is a freshman from Forest Park, where he once played lacrosse for legendary coach Obie Barnes, and is now a midfielder and biology major. McKnight is a senior business administration major, an all-league defenseman and founding member of the club.
Tre'-Robert Hicky III is a freshman political science/history major and a straight-A student. He grew up in East Baltimore, went to Gilman and came through the Overlea recreation program. Defenseman Vance Brinkley is a freshman mass communications/TV production major from Landover who carries a 3.5 GPA. Midfielder Bryan Webb is a sophomore civil engineer major who went to Mount Hebron and is a Dean's List student. Sophomore defenseman Rick Arrick, also a Dean's List student, is a psychology major, who went to Peekskill High in West Chester, N.Y.
"Not only are they playing," said Krehnbrink, "but they still love the game. There's a lot of really good stuff going on here. The kids are very committed."
They are also well aware of the original Ten Bears who made the NCAA tournament twice and, in 1975, pulled one of the great upsets in lacrosse history when they beat then-No. 1 ranked Washington and Lee University.
Silverman stepped down as coach after the 1975 season and passed away two years ago. The book he and Harrison wrote in 2001 received national acclaim and triggered a renewed interest in Baltimore high school lacrosse, which ultimately led to the return of the Morgan club team.
The Bears play in the Chesapeake Division of the NCLL along with Navy, Towson, Washington College, Salisbury, Loyola, Johns Hopkins and Delaware.
Issue 148: April 2010