Paddy Chester’s lacrosse life started in 1978 in Stockport, England, where as an 11-year-old lad he witnessed the most stunning upset in the sport’s history.

Just one week after the heavily favored and theretofore undefeated U.S. men’s team drubbed Canada 28-4, the Canadians defeated Team USA 17-16 in overtime. One Canadian newspaper chronicled it as “one of the most surprising comebacks since Lazarus strode from the crypt.”

Chester fell in awe.

Thirty-eight years later, his love of the sport has not waned, a sentiment shared by many of the 1,200 people who descended Sunday on Sparks, Md., for the grand opening of US Lacrosse headquarters — including the impressive IWLCA Building — and a triple-header headlined by the U.S. national teams.

Chester, who enjoyed a long career as a player and coach in England, now coaches high school boys’ lacrosse in southern California. He came to see his friend, former Navy star and current St. Margaret’s Episcopal (Calif.) coach Glen Miles, get inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. On Sunday, Chester admired not only Miles’ engraved wood plaque in the Richie Moran Hall of Fame Gallery, but also the surrounding museum featuring rare photographs, vintage equipment and uniforms, striking sculptures and trophies, and other lacrosse memorabilia.

“A long lacrosse journey,” Chester said. “This is so cool.”

Chester was not alone in his enthusiasm. Legends of the past got to watch the stars of today, uniting with other members of the lacrosse community in boundless optimism for the sport’s future.

“We shape our buildings,” said Jamie Hunt, the director of development at US Lacrosse, quoting Winston Churchill. “Thereafter they shape us.”

US Lacrosse raised $15 million in private donations to fund the headquarters, which will serve not only as a training site for Team USA, but also as the seedbed of the sport’s national growth and development.

“It is clear that the new facility is both an infrastructural and symbolic step forward for USL and the sport as a whole,” said Ed Saunders, director of marketing at STX. “Everyone on hand, from your staff to the spectators and athletes were beaming with lacrosse pride. The energy was palpable. Incredible to see.”

The U.S. women’s national team’s intra-squad exhibition will go down as the first official game at the new US Lacrosse. Blue defeated White 17-16. Two-time Tewaaraton Award winner Katie Schwarzmann scored the game-winning goal with 1:49 remaining.

“There truly are no words to describe the feeling for all of us as we walked into our new locker room in the IWLCA Building and had the privilege of being the first team to officially open play on the new field,” said assistant coach Jess Wilk, a former four-time World Cup goalie and National Hall of Famer. “We are beyond appreciative and will continue to do our part.”

The timing couldn’t be better. While the two-time defending champion U.S. women are preparing for the 2017 FIL Women’s World Cup, the U.S. men already have begun what they hope will be a redemption tour. Two years ago, Canada defeated Team USA on American soil in the 2014 FIL Men’s World Championship. Though not nearly as earth shattering as the 1978 result — which jumpstarted the Canadians bridging the box-field gap — it left a bitter taste nonetheless.

One of the players bidding for a spot to help get rid of that taste is Joey Sankey, who had a pair of goals for the White team in a game the Blue team won 15-13 behind a three-goal, five-assist performance from Matt Danowski.

“To be part of this weekend has just been an incredible experience,” said Sankey. “The fact that it coincides with 9/11 and it’s followed by a game of police versus firemen, it’s a really special day.”

Much of the crowd stuck around for a solemn but sweet dedication of the 9/11 Memorial Garden honoring the men and women connected to lacrosse that perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Afterward, New York City firefighters and police officers squared off in a special Bravest vs. Finest game.

“Usually when we play games for a charity or pro team, we help them with ticket sales, fundraising and donations,” said Kristian Prior of FDNY Ladder 132. “For the first time, someone took care of us and didn’t ask for anything in return.”

US Lacrosse provides national leadership, structure and resources to fuel the sport's growth and enrich the experience of participants. If Sunday was any indication, the national governing body is well positioned to achieve its mission.

“The Grand Opening was one of the best lacrosse experiences of my life,” said Alan McLiverty, president of the Greater Rochester Chapter of US Lacrosse.

“One of the greatest days in lacrosse history,” said Frank Kelly, past chair of the FCA Maryland and FCA Lacrosse boards and US Lacrosse Foundation Board member. “I believe lacrosse's best years are yet to come.”

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