In Memory: Don Leet
Dear Laurentian Friends:
St. Lawrence lost today a beloved coach, educator, and life mentor, connected to the University for over 50 years. Don Leet died June 22.
A three-sport athlete at Adelphi University, Don came to St. Lawrence in 1968 as a defensive line coach for the football team, in a day when the staff was assigned to more than one team and also offered courses in the University curriculum. His strength and conditioning methods for the football part of his career were legendary when I was a student. He foreshadowed plank poses and complex push-ups before anyone had ever heard of yoga.
Don coached the men's lacrosse team from 1970-1997. His teams won 253 games in 28 seasons. A 2004 inductee into our own Athletics Hall of Fame, Don was named the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Man of the Year in 1997, and earned NCAA Division III Coach of the Year honors in 1979. He took his teams to eight NCAA Tournaments, with the 1979 team advancing to the NCAA Division II-III semifinals.
In 2019, he was named to the Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame and I share a statement made by Athletic Director Bob Durocher for that occasion, "Don was an outstanding teacher of the game, but more importantly he was the master teacher of life's lessons. Whenever I am talking with alumni, I hear story after story about the impact Coach Leet had on his teams. He was tough, fair, and never gave up on his students."
In addition to his much admired coaching career, Don was a popular instructor in what was then known as the Department of Sport and Leisure Studies. The stadium at North Country Field was named Hall-Leet Field in 2010 to honor Don and his colleague, former field hockey and women's lacrosse coach, Dotty Hall.
He and Maureen had already retired by the time Lynn and I moved to Canton, but we often saw them in the summertime when they returned to the pleasures of their camp at Trout Lake. Don had a bottomless reservoir of stories, none better than getting ready for the annual spring break trip to Florida. The entire family pitched in to make hundreds of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. On that diet, the team once played a much better fed and outfitted team from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Don drove up to the field entrance, students jammed on board, in a rickety out-of-date van and parked it next to the more extravagant motor coach of the opposing team. He told the students, "Once we take the field, it's the same ball for both sides." Saints won the day.
Lynn and I extend our sincere condolences to Maureen and the rest of the Leet family, as well as to the members of the Saints' men's lacrosse alumni circle who are feeling a tremendous absence right now.