All-America lacrosse player, North-South All-Star, U.S. Military Academy graduate, team captain and career record-holder, U.S. Air Force Captain, dedicated career public servant and experienced leader, committed environmentalist and lover of the outdoors, founder and commissioner of CALOA, founder and first president of the Potomac Chapter, chief architect of boys’ and youth lacrosse in the DC metro area, faithful friend, loving husband and devoted father.
Tom Sheckells was a man for all seasons but one season in particular was near and dear to his heart: lacrosse season. From his earliest high school playing days at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute through his final season as an official in 2002, Tom excelled at every level of lacrosse, and was awarded the highest laurels in the sport. Throughout his lacrosse career, he was a leader, shouldering responsibilities that no one else would undertake, and inspiring others to work with him for the greater common good.
Tom chose to devote his entire post-collegiate lacrosse life to the development and growth of the sport in the greater Washington, DC area. For over 30 years, he dedicated himself to the pursuit of this objective. The results are self-evident. There are no greater beneficiaries of his ability to lead and of his drive to excel in the sport of lacrosse than the entire Potomac region and the thousands of area youngsters who today play his favorite game on a year-round basis.
This patriarch of DC area lacrosse began by serving three high school boys’ programs in 1972. Fully aware that without officials, the sport of lacrosse could not expand, Tom nurtured the sport’s development, program by program. First an adult summer league, then a coaching clinic, an all-star game, unsung hero awards, all-Met recognition, and youth leagues. He organized the Potomac Chapter and recruited volunteers to insure that these peripheral activities would continue to enhance the game for all. Tom accomplished these deeds in his usual selfless fashion, all the while superbly performing his most valuable contribution of all: recruiting and teaching others like himself to serve the sport as officials.
Tom has left a proud legacy of giving back. His untimely death in October 2002 created an enormous vacuum of leadership and service for the DC metro lacrosse area. But his greatest legacy to all of us was to insure that this vacuum will be amply filled by those who were fortunate to know him and learn from his example.