Richie Moran, a celebrated collegiate lacrosse coach from Long Island, died on April 24. He was 85.
Moran is most known for his 29-year tenure as Cornell University’s head men’s lacrosse coach. During his reign from 1969 to 1997, he led the Big Red to three national championships and a 257-121 record.
But before making his name in Ithaca, his story began on Long Island.
He was born in New Hyde Park on Jan. 18, 1937. His parents were Irish immigrants and he was the youngest of eight children.
From 1951 through 1955, he was an All-County lacrosse midfielder at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park. There he helped his team prevail in four straight undefeated seasons.
He continued playing at the University of Maryland, where he was a member of the Terrapins’ 1959 National Championship team. Moran enlisted in the United States Marine Corps following graduation.
Moran first began coaching in 1961. He led various lacrosse teams, including Manhasset High School, Elmont Memorial High School and the Long Island Athletic Club, to conference and Long Island championships.
In 1969, he took over as head men’s lacrosse coach at Cornell University. His Big Red teams won 15 Ivy League championships, including ten straight from 1974 to 1983. Moran also set an NCAA record from 1976 to 1978 by leading his team to 42 consecutive victories.
Even after his time with Cornell ended in 1997, he would continue to be involved and coach at the international level, as he led Team Ireland in multiple World Lacrosse Championships. He had previously coached Team USA as well.
While his accomplishments as a leader on the field garnered him recognition, it was his demeanor off the field that made him stand out to many.
Despite acknowledging that he did not know him as well as some others, Bobby Anastasia, a longtime Manhasset resident and active community member, remembered him as “just always smiling and always a good guy.”
Yet for those who got to know him as a coach, the feeling about Moran was similar.
“He could have been a great coach at any sport,” said Robert Rule, who played for Moran at Cornell. “He had that ability to make you feel confident — that’s so important.”
Rule attended Manhasset High School, but he did not play under Moran, who had recently departed to coach at Elmont. Regardless, Rule was aware of his legacy.
“In the three years he was there, he lost three games and before that, they had not won a championship in over 20 years,” he said. “That’s pretty phenomenal.”
Moran and Rule would link up at Cornell, where they won their first NCAA Tournament championship together in 1971.
After his playing days, Rule returned home and became the head coach of the men’s lacrosse team at Manhasset High School. He joked that after 38 years in the post, he “became Richie Moran.”
“I had a lot of fun and while I don’t know how successful I was, I really tried to use a lot of his stuff when I coached,” he said. “I stole it from him — I’ll admit it.”
Richie is survived by Patricia Moran, his wife of 61 years, and his three children, Kevin, Jennifer and Kathy.