Lacrosse Players Everywhere "Come Singing ... 'Neath the Brown and White"

by Bob Willen '86 Park School

(Originally appreared in a Park School publication dated Winter 1998 - reproduced here WITHOUT permission)

Every once in a while, The Park School produces lacrosse players who go on to play at the college level. But let's face it, Park is not synonymous with lacrosse, like Gilman, Boys' Latin, and Loyola. Park, however, has been able to make its mark on the lacrosse community in a different way, thanks entirely to loyal alumnus Peter Kohn '54.

When I arrived at Tufts University for my freshman year, Rob Leizman '83 was one of the captains of the lacrosse team. He took me under his wing during my first semester and gave me some unusual advice. "Better brush up on 'The Park School Song,'" he said. "Duane's going to want to hear it." Duane was Duane Ford, the head football coach and assistant lacrosse coach at Tufts. At first I thought Rob's advice involved a freshman initiation ritural where we would all have to stand up and sing our respective high school fight songs, like Alan Alda did in the movie Paper Lion. But not five minutes into my first converation with Duane, he broke out singing, "Park School, Park School, da da da...'neath the Brown and White." To say I was surprised would be an understatement. Sure, he was shaky on most of the words, but Park is not Notre Dame. You don't really expect people to know our fight song.

Duane was a graduate of Middlebury College, where Peter Kohn is a member of the athletic department's equipment management staff. According to Duane, Peter was always singing "The Park School Song." If you played a sport at Middlebury, you invariably had the opportunity to hear Peter sing it.

By the time I was a junior at Tufts, all three of the lacrosse coaches, Bob Ritter, Erin Quinn, and Duane, were Middlebury graduates. When I met Bob and Erin for the first time, they didn't hesitate before beginning to sing "Park School, Park School." (My coaches knew my school song better than I did.)

Peter is a fixture at Middlebury, and it has become a ritual for him to lead the lacrosse and football players in "The Park School Song." Coach Quinn told me that the football team actually had the lyrics printed up so they could sing the song in the locker room after victories. However, "The Park School Song" is not only know in Southern Vermont.

Peter is called upon frequently to assist on lacrosse all-star teams, including the North Squad in the North-South All-Star Game. In fact, Peter will be one of the equipment managers for the U.S. Men's Lacrosse Team at World Lacrosse '98, to be held in Baltimore this summer. Wherever he goes, Peter never passes up the opportunity to teach "The Park School Song" to the players.

This was first brought to my attention after I graduated from college. I was hired by the English Lacrosse Union, along with 14 other college players, to spend a year in Great Britain coaching and playing lacrosse. As we sat in the airport waiting for our flight, I talked to Rob Cote, a native of Syracuse and all-Ivy player at Dartmouth, who had been to Baltimore a few times. His knowledge of the lacrosse scene down here didn't extend past Loyola and Gilman. "Where did you go to high school?" he asked. When I told him Park, his eyes lit up. "Oh! You guys have that song!" He immediately started singing. I was floored. Rob had played in the North-South All-Star Game and, thanks to Peter Kohn, had learned our school song.

Since then, I have run into countless lacrosse players who know our school song. The absolute topper however, took place when I was in Britain. Roy Simmons Jr., the head coach of Syracuse University, came to England to run some lacrosse clinics. I was his host and driver for the week. On a drive to Edinburgh, we got to talking about Baltimore. He asked me where I went to high school, and I told him. Without missing a beat, Roy looked at me and stared singing. Yes, even one of the most successful coaches in the game, a man who at that time had never had a Park graduate play for him, knew "The Park School Song."

Park may not produce a lot of great lacrosse players, but a lot of great lacrosse players know our song. So if you are out in Baltimore this summer and run into some members of the U.S. Men's Lacrosse Team, don't be shocked if you hear them singing that same tune you and I and Peter Kohn learned in Lower School music class.