Cathy Reese, Paul Schimoler, Richard Speckmann and Matt Striebel will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Oct."> Transformative Player: Coker's Athleticism Shined in Career at Hopkins | USA Lacrosse Magazine

Charlie Coker starred at Johns Hopkins from 1968-1970, leading the Blue Jays to three USILA national championships.

Transformative Player: Coker's Athleticism Shined in Career at Hopkins

Nine lacrosse legends — Ryan Boyle, Charlie Coker, Kara Ariza Cooke, Rachael Becker DeCecco, Sarah Forbes, Cathy Reese, Paul Schimoler, Richard Speckmann and Matt Striebel will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Oct. 19 at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md. These are their stories.

Charlie Coker, one of the all-time great midfielders at Johns Hopkins, enjoys recounting his unremarkable journey to Homewood.

Growing up in Edgewater, Md., barely a stone’s throw away from the U.S. Naval Academy, Coker’s only plan for college was to gain an appointment to the Academy. As an accomplished wrestler at Annapolis High School, where he was county champion, he was sure his entry would come via Navy’s wrestling recruiting list.

When that plan didn’t materialize, Coker had to come up with a new option for college. He didn’t have one.

“I was an Annapolis kid. I only knew Navy,” he said.

A three-sport athlete, Coker eventually found his way to Bullis Prep, but played only football and lacrosse there because the school did not have a wrestling team. After the spring season, his lacrosse coach at Bullis arranged a meeting for Coker with Hopkins’ legendary coach Bob Scott.

“I drive to Baltimore on the day of the meeting and happen to run into Coach Scott and another man on my way into the building,” Coker said. “I introduce myself and Coach clearly didn’t remember that I had an appointment. He informed me that he and the other gentleman, assistant coach Henry Ciccarone, were headed to lunch, and he thanked me for coming by. I didn’t know anything about Hopkins, and still didn’t.”

“Charlie was a transformative player. Even in today’s game, he’d be an All-America player. He had that kind of ability.” - Willie Scroggs

Regardless, Coker applied to Hopkins to attend the engineering school, and tried out for the freshman lacrosse team in his first year on campus. Freshmen were ineligible to play varsity at that time.

“I made the team, rather easily, and realized I could play with those guys,” Coker said. “I think that’s when Coach Scott finally noticed me.”

Coker joined the varsity team as a sophomore, and quickly made the transition from attack to midfield. His impact was immediate.

“Charlie was a transformative player,” said Hall of Fame coach Willie Scroggs, who was a football and lacrosse teammate of Coker’s at Johns Hopkins. “Even in today’s game, he’d be an All-America player. He had that kind of ability.”

Despite his inauspicious introduction to Hopkins, Coker finished as a three-time All-American for the Blue Jays, earning first-team honors in both 1969 and 1970 and honorable mention recognition as a sophomore. He was also a recipient of the team’s outstanding senior award and best midfielder award in 1970.

With 23 goals, Coker was the team’s leading scorer as a junior in 1969 — no small feat on a team that also included Hall of Famer Joe Cowan, selected as the nation’s most outstanding attackman that season.

As a senior, Coker helped guide Johns Hopkins to a fourth straight USILA national championship, the last of the program’s titles in the pre-NCAA era. The Blue Jays had a 28-3 record during Coker’s three-seasons as a varsity player.

“We were one of the championship favorites in both 1968 and 1969, but we lost a lot of guys prior to the 1970 season,” Coker said. “We were overachievers that season. It was our hardest championship to win.”

Coker finished his career with 53 goals and 21 assists and was selected to play in the USILA’s North-South All-Star Game in 1970. He was also named to the All-Time Johns Hopkins Team at the end of his career.

“Charlie was a goal scorer,” Scroggs said. “He had a knack for the game. He knew when to shoot and where to shoot.”

Coker (10) dreamed of wrestling at Navy, but was not recruited and chose to play three sports at Johns Hopkins.

With a career-high six goals vs. Army in 1969, Coker tied the record for the most goals in one game by a Hopkins player during the decade of the ‘60’s. But he paid the price for his achievement.

In that game, assistant coach Ciccarone crafted a play to capitalize on Coker’s matchup against Army’s defenseman Charlie Jarvis. The play worked as designed, allowing the fleet-footed Coker to repeatedly get the needed separation against the bigger Jarvis, who was also a bruising fullback on the football team. Jarvis would recover just in time to lay into Coker following each shot.

“We kept running the same play, and Jarvis leveled me every time,” Coker said.  “I had his cleat marks on me by the end of the game.”

As an accomplished athlete, Coker also lettered as a football player and wrestler during his time at Homewood.  He was recognized as the school’s freshman athlete of the year in 1967 and inducted into the Johns Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

“I loved all three sports,” Coker said. “I just enjoyed playing.”  

The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a program of US Lacrosse, was established in 1957 to honor men and women who by their deeds as players, coaches, officials and/or contributors, and by the example of their lives, personify the great contribution of lacrosse to our way of life. The Class of 2019 will be officially recognized at the induction ceremony in Hunt Valley, Md., on Saturday, Oct 19. Tickets for the event, sponsored by RPS Bollinger and the Markel Insurance Company, are available at

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