The Harkness Experience
Ned Harkness, known as one of American college hockeys true founding fathers, also is revered by many for his devotion and talent in another sportlacrosse.
During more than a dozen years of coaching lacrosse at Rensselaer, Harknesss teams established an unprecedented record. Considered one of the sports most successful coaches, the founding father of lacrosse at Rensselaer was among the 10 new members inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in October.
Lacrosse had its beginnings at Rensselaer in 1941, when Harkness was a volunteer coach for a group of students interested in forming a lacrosse club. For two seasons, the team practiced and scrimmaged and then competed against four varsity teams from across the state.
The team disbanded during World War II, but Harkness had planted the seed. In 1945, Rensselaer formally established a lacrosse program and Harkness was asked to take the reins.
Within a year, Rensselaers team was nationally ranked. In 1948, they were invited to the Olympic Games in London. In Wembley Stadium, before a crowd of 60,000, Rensselaer tied the British All-Star Team and left England with a record of 8-0-1. Four years later, in 1952, Rensselaer went unbeaten and captured the national lacrosse championship.
Harkness graduated from Worcester Academy in 1939 and went on to coaching stints at Rensselaer and Cornell. From 1945 to 1958, he led the Rensselaer lacrosse team to a record of 112-26-2. Harkness later coached lacrosse at Cornell from 1966 to 1968, compiling a record of 35-1 with Ivy League titles in 1966 and 1968.
Harkness, who now lives in Florida, was born in Ottawa, Canada. His family moved to Glens Falls. His father, William Pop Harkness, was inducted into both the hockey and lacrosse national halls of fame.
To pay tribute to Ned Harkness, Samuel Heffner 56, chairman of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees, attended the induction ceremony on behalf of Rensselaer. More than 50 alumni and former players also attended. (See, also, Class Notes.)