Bruce Hart to be Honored Before Patterson Mill v Bel Air Boys Lacrosse Game

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Bruce Hart, the man credited with bringing interscholastic lacrosse to Harford County, will be honored before tomorrow night's varsity boys lacrosse game between Patterson Mill and Bel Air.

Hart, who passed away on March 22, was a hugely influential figure within Maryland's lacrosse community. In Harford County, he coached at Bel Air High School, Edgewood High School, Harford Community College and the Harford Lacrosse Camp.

"He was an excellent motivator and leader," said Bel Air head coach Chuck Muir, who also played for Hart at Bel Air. "He always had his band of brother mantra that he preached to everyone about the importance of teamwork and playing for the other guy."

Hart was born in the northwest area of Baltimore, and lived in Maryland his whole life. He attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute where he played both football and lacrosse. Hart went on to play football at Baltimore Junior College, where he was a captain for the team for two seasons.

He joined the United States Army in 1966, serving for 18 years. During that time he won multiple awards including the United States of America Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and The Army Achievement Medal. He also got into teaching and coaching, starting out at Towson before going to Bel Air and coaching the team in its first season as an official varsity sport.

His service with the US Army ended in 1984 when he was involved in a car accident which left him confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Despite the difficult conditions after the accident, Hart got back into coaching. One place where Hart coached was the Harford Lacrosse Camp, where he made quite the impact on one camper named Jason Bellamy, who is now Patterson Mill's varsity boys lacrosse coach.

"He was a role model of courage and what it meant to be a gentleman," Bellamy said. "Bruce genuinely cared about other people. He wanted to interact with kids and see them go on to succeed."

When Hart passed away, Muir and Bellamy began to look at the game between Bel Air and Patterson Mill as a great opportunity to honor Hart. It seemed like the perfect fit because before Patterson Mill was established in 2007, students in that district went to Bel Air.

"Both of these lacrosse programs are born out of his work," Bellamy said. "Some of Bruce's family members will be at the game, and we have some festivities planned for before the game."

The celebration before the game will include a presentation of the colors by the color guard, as well as a Bel Air student singing a live version of the national anthem. There will also be a presentation of different artist renderings of Hart at different stages throughout his life.

This isn't the only way Harford County is paying respect to its most influential lacrosse figure. Every helmet worn by a JV or varsity boys lacrosse player in Harford County will be outfitted with a heart-shaped sticker that has Hart's name on it.

For those who knew Hart best, they want to make sure this generation of lacrosse players in Harford County, as well as future ones, know what kind of person he was, and the values he lived by.

"He's the greatest role model someone could have," Muir said. "The perseverance and endurance he had to get through his life was astounding."
April 12th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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