Read more about Blaxers Blog and the content partnership here.

"> Blaxers Blog: The Inside Story of Hobart's Historic 'Soul Patrol' | USA Lacrosse Magazine


The Soul Patrol helped Hobart win four consecutive NCAA championships from 1984-87.

Blaxers Blog: The Inside Story of Hobart's Historic 'Soul Patrol'

US Lacrosse Magazine has partnered with Blaxers Blog to produce a series of stories that illuminate the minority lacrosse experience and promote the accomplishments of those individuals who have defied stereotypes to succeed in the sport.

Read more about Blaxers Blog and the content partnership here.

Every generation in NCAA men’s lacrosse possesses a few Black and Indigenous standouts who shape how offenses are run. In the mid-1980s, a brotherhood of three lacrosse pioneers was born on Hobart’s scenic campus. Hobart’s all-Black midfield line, dubbed the “Soul Patrol,” would help the Statesmen maintain their storied success as a small college program.

The moniker “Soul Patrol” was jokingly created by two of the group’s members, Dr. Malcolm Anderson and Mark “Skip” Darden, after their pregame routine of watching musical performances on “Soul Train.” Hobart’s coaches made the nickname commonplace as they shouted substitution instructions at practice. Hobart normally assigned each line a color, and the Soul Patrol’s previous designations were the Blue and Black midfield lines. But “Soul Patrol” had a distinctly better ring to it.

When Hobart head coach Dave Urick shouted “Soul Patrol,” Anderson, Darden and Ray “Tiny” Crawford came running. And opposing defenses quickly went into panic mode.

Malcolm Anderson, Ph.D.
Hometown: Stony Brook, N.Y.
High School: Ward Melville (1980-83)
Years Played: 1984-87

Ray “Tiny” Crawford
Hometown: Great Neck, N.Y.
High School: Manhasset (1977-81)
Years Played: 1985-87
(Shinnecock Nation)

Mark “Skip” Darden
Hometown: Annapolis, Md.
High School: Glenelg (1980-83)
Years Played: 1984-87

Hobart’s offensive scheme matched its skilled and burly personnel. Most of its offense ran through the attack, where the Soul Patrol greatly contributed. Their simple yet potent plays were initiated behind the crease.

“It was a slow but settled offense because we had plays,” Darden said. “You start with a simple plan, but it had six variable plays. Playing ball with northern teams was like playing smashmouth football with a lacrosse stick. The attackmen had speed and rhythm. We had 6-foot-2 guys like Tom Grimaldi and Marc Van Arsdale backing dudes down and ripping it.”

From 1984-87, Hobart outscored opponents 912-487, averaged 16 goals per game and went 12-0 in the NCAA tournament. In the opening round of the 1986 NCAA Division III tournament, Hobart routed Roanoke 29-1.

Urick, who would go on to coach at Georgetown and was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, led the Statesmen to 10 straight national titles from 1980-89, part of a 12-year streak that’s unlikely ever to be matched in the sport.

The Soul Patrol formed a brotherhood by spending most of their time together. They created their own wrinkle plays, studied, washed their cars and cut hair, as Darden served as the designated campus barber.

While the three were interviewed together on the Fred Opie Show in February, they spoke in a sequential tandem paralleling their team-focused play on the field. Even now, their bond helps them operate like blood brothers as they discuss personal issues and triumphs.

The trio didn’t realize their badge of honor as an all-Black midfield line until after graduating. Anderson’s focus, Crawford’s redemption and Darden’s tenacity were the main ingredients in elevating the Soul Patrol to legendary status. The Soul Patrol’s impact was even revered by Hobart standouts who followed like Hall of Famer Bill Miller and 1993 All-American Thomas “Tom” Pena.

“We are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors like Morgan State,” Anderson said. “It shows everyone that playing ability and success comes in all colors. We had a chip on our shoulders. We had a curtain wall of pride and responsibility.”

“We are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors like Morgan State. It shows everyone that playing ability and success comes in all colors. We had a chip on our shoulders. We had a curtain wall of pride and responsibility.”

It’s easy to look at the paths of Anderson, Crawford and Darden and immediately be drawn into each man's journey to Hobart. None had their sights set on the small college in Geneva, N.Y., before chance meetings with Urick.

Anderson was a Ward Melville (N.Y.) High School star whose four-goal performance in 1983 helped the Patriots clinch their second consecutive Long Island championship. Urick showed up to Ward Melville unannounced prior to the county championship game that year to make a 20-minute pitch on Hobart, encouraging Anderson to make a campus visit.

Anderson was saddened that his childhood dream schools, Johns Hopkins and North Carolina, overlooked him. Anderson’s first choice was Cornell due to its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences because of his hopes of pursuing medical school.

“As it turns out, the person who gave me my first lacrosse stick [Coach Bob Hoppey], his son [Tim] was a Hobart graduate [in 1981],” Anderson said on the Fred Opie Show. “He was right down the street from me, and until this day, I have a feeling that somehow either Timmy or his dad told Coach Urick that I had nowhere to go.”

Anderson’s visit to Hobart erased all his doubts about whether he was worthy of playing collegiately.

“[Urick] was a masterful recruiter,” Anderson said. “I knew their campus was alive and buzzing. Everyone was around and it was a beautiful day.

“As soon as I stepped foot on campus, my mom looked at me and said, ‘This is where you’re going to go, isn’t it?’ I said, ‘Mom I can’t say no. This is heaven.’”

Crawford earned his fame as a three-sport star at Manhasset (N.Y.) High School while balancing his lineman and fullback duties in football with his all-county wrestling and lacrosse performances. By his senior year, Crawford was team captain for all three teams.

Crawford practiced the art of faceoffs with assistant coach Harry Baugher. Because of his faceoff prowess, he received scholarship offers from powerhouse programs like Cornell, Hofstra, Navy, Princeton, Rutgers and Washington and Lee. Crawford spent 1982 at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School.

Army was Crawford’s first choice. He received an appointment there and played briefly in 1983. Hall of Fame coach Dick Edell described his former pupil as “the hardest working player both on the field and that he ever coached.”

Crawford’s faceoff expertise aided the Black Knights to an 11-2 record and an NCAA quarterfinal appearance against North Carolina. Unfortunately, Crawford struggled with writing in-class essays, which led to him being placed on a trimester-long academic probation.

Returning home for a year, Crawford balanced night classes at Nassau Community College while working a full-time job during the day. After improving his grades, he reapplied to Army and was readmitted.

But a lengthy conversation with a West Point assistant coach changed his trajectory forever.

“He suggested that I look at a couple schools. One of the schools happened to be Hobart College,” Crawford said. “Then, I’m meeting Coach Urick at an event at Nassau where a bunch of college coaches were coming down. I had an appointment with Coach Urick, and from that point on, I was a Statesman.”

Crawford conditioned himself by playing for Hobart’s football team in the fall of 1984 before making his lacrosse debut in the spring.

Urick relied heavily on Crawford, as he served as Hobart’s primary faceoff midfielder. Crawford had broad shoulders and an immovable physique that helped him dominate ground ball scrums after the faceoff.

During a 1985 practice, Urick coined a term that would become popular generations later, as he instructed Crawford to “faceoff and get off.” FOGO became vernacular for faceoff specialists.

Crawford’s dominance was a catalyst to Hobart’s potent offense. In 1986, he won 177 faceoffs (nearly 67 percent). In 1987, Crawford was a team captain and won 121 faceoffs (nearly 70 percent) with 78 ground balls.

Darden’s three-sport stardom at Glenelg (Md.) High School earned him All-Met honors in football, a Maryland-wide fourth place ranking in track and field and the 1983 Howard County Player of the Year award in lacrosse — a sport he didn’t play until he was a freshman.

Because of its proximity to his birthplace of Annapolis, Navy was Darden’s first choice. One of Darden’s uncles attended the academy and another uncle who worked there gave him his first lacrosse stick.

Darden also was interested in converting his fandom of North Carolina into a possible opportunity after following closely the Tar Heels’ back-to-back national championships in 1981 and 1982. He also received offers from Ohio Wesleyan and Western Maryland (now McDaniel).

But during his senior year, Darden’s outlook changed after being invited to Hobart’s historic 1983 game against North Carolina. The Statesmen’s 12-9 upset snapped UNC’s 29-game winning streak, which spanned both championship runs.

“I had never heard of Hobart College, but I saw this Black guy [Tim Clark] out on the field jacking people up,” Darden said. “I was like, ‘Hey, where is this school?’”

Darden patiently waited to converse with then-North Carolina coach Willie Scroggs after the upset, but Scroggs’ postgame scolding of the team took precedence over his appointment with Darden. During Scroggs’ absence, Hobart’s locker room door opened. Urick checked in with Darden and invited him to meet the team and Clark specifically.

“You’re going to be a while,” Urick said to Darden.

Clark’s recruiting pitch successfully led to Darden’s locker room introduction to the squad.

“I talked to Coach Urick for about 5 or 10 minutes and the following week, we were in the Dome watching Hobart play Boston College and Syracuse play Navy,” Darden said. “I’m sitting there, and he goes, ‘We play here once every other year.’

“He was a great recruiter, and I was right in.”

Urick never believed in guaranteed roster spots. His lengthy evaluation process, paired with his merit-based mentality, led to competition every fall.

“When I got to Hobart, I wasn’t subtle,” Darden said. “I’m from the Baltimore area. Because I got recruited from UNC, I thought I had an automatic spot on the team. I was told that I had to try out.”

Every player on the roster battled to retain his position. If you underperformed, you were cut. Urick was known to pass on All-Americans if they did not win his confidence.

Hobart’s first evaluation phase began in the fall. Players needed an invitation from the coaching staff to qualify for next phase in January, and only a select few were chosen. At the conclusion of January, Urick decided who made Hobart’s spring roster. If the contests for the final spots were too tight to evaluate, an additional three weeks were added before final cuts were made.

In the cold New York weather, the Soul Patrol passed each heated test.

Anderson, Crawford and Darden understood that Hobart’s academic curriculum was just as stringent as its lacrosse program, and staying diligent in the classroom was integral to remaining a factor on the field.

Anderson learned how to discipline himself to go from an average student to a seasoned scholar. He said Hobart developed him into a “more conscientious student.” He was so dedicated to his studies that he would routinely sprint to Hobart’s library immediately after practice. He credited Hobart’s former Student Resource Center chair Dean Henderson. Darden did, too.

“He helped us as Black athletes transition from being on the lacrosse field, being rising stars, to being even better students,” Darden said.

Malcolm Anderson headed to Hobart after starring at Ward Melville (N.Y.).

Urick kept a unique memento in his office prominently in view: a wooden slingshot. It had “David had a plan” inscribed on the bottom. Some say the phrase was in reference to David and Goliath of the Old Testament and paralleled Hobart’s determination to battle against any opponent.

Even though Hobart was a Division III independent, its schedule often included Division I programs like Cornell, Loyola, UMass and Syracuse. The Soul Patrol helped Hobart deliver major wins over Cornell and Syracuse in 1986.

During tough games, Hobart found strength through Urick’s famous words of wisdom, affectionately known as Urickisms.

“He’s like the Yogi Berra of lacrosse because of his sayings,” Darden said.

Some famous Urickisms include, “Hard work beats talent; talent doesn’t beat hard work,” and, “Every day is a holiday.”

Under the guidance of Urick, the Statesmen were juggernauts in the small college landscape from 1980-89. During his tenure, Urick won 10 consecutive Division III national championships.

Urick earned his eighth straight title in 1987, surpassing UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden for the most consecutive NCAA championships in a team sport.

Overall from 1980-94, Hobart won 13 national championships with 14 title game appearances. From 1980-91, Hobart won 12 consecutive Division III national championships.

Because of their lengthy national championship streak at the Division III level, the Statesmen were invited to an annual season-opening neutral site game called The Manhasset Lacrosse Day of Champions that pitted them against the defending Division I champion. During the Soul Patrol era, Hobart lost tightly contested games against Syracuse (1984), Johns Hopkins (1985-86) and Virginia (1987). The neutral-site challenge helped Hobart sharpen its offensive blades in preparation of carving up its small-college opponents later on.

Anderson, Crawford and Darden won an NCAA title each year they were at Hobart. Their contributions helped Hobart generate jaw-dropping stats, and the strategies used became what many future programs studied to find their own offensive sparks.

There is great optimism that one day soon more college programs will recruit and cultivate their own versions of the Soul Patrol. Even though chance brought them together, Anderson, Crawford and Darden unintentionally paved the way for dynamic offenses as we now know them.


Malcolm Anderson

Anderson currently serves as a licensed clinical psychologist based in Atlanta, and he has been an assistant coach at the Wesleyan School since 2005.

Ray Crawford

After graduating from Hobart, Crawford earned the position of second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to Kuwait, serving during both Gulf War operations. During his service stateside, Crawford played a number of post-collegiate club seasons in San Diego. Crawford is retired from the Marines and resides in the Miami area.

Mark Darden

Darden went on to graduate from Howard University School of Law and play for the HBCU’s club lacrosse team from 1988-89. Since 2014, Darden has guided Oakland Mills (Md.) High School as head coach and has produced collegiate talent like Ohio State’s Evan Riss.