Lane, Payette, Redfern, and Wood Form 2017 Hall of Fame Women’s Class

John Strohsacker

(L-R): Robyn Nye Wood, Laurette Payette, Leslie Blankin Lane, Jill Johnson Redfern.

The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame formally welcomed four new women’s members Saturday evening at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley during the 2017 induction ceremony, sponsored by RPS-Bollinger Sports & Leisure and the Markel Insurance Company.

Leslie Blankin Lane, Jill Johnson Redfern, and Robyn Nye Wood, all prominent members of the U.S. Women’s National Team Program who captured gold medals, were inducted as ‘truly great players.” Laurette Payette was inducted as a “truly great contributor.”

Each inductee was introduced by a video that summarized many of her career highlights and included comments from a presenter. Each inductee then came forward to address the sold out gathering of current Hall of Fame members and several hundred others guests, and to accept their Hall of Fame induction plaque.

Lane enjoyed a four-year career at Hollins College, where she led the program to its first Virginia State Division II Championship as a senior in 1979. That year’s team also finished as the national runner-up in the USWLA’s Collegiate Championship, with Lane described as the “heart and soul” of the squad. After college, Lane became a member of the U.S. Women’s Program, playing on the 1981 U.S. Touring Team to Australia and the first World Cup team in 1982. She earned All-World honors as a midfielder in 1982 as Team USA claimed the gold medal in England.  

Ellen Remsen Webb, Lane’s teammate on Team USA, served as her presenter.

“She was explosive and had such power. Her 10-yard sprint was probably as fast as any sprint I’ve ever seen,” Webb said. “She also had these amazing hands that could catch the ball. And she would always appear to be placing the ball in the goal; never just firing it. She would just place it…outsmarting everybody. She was a clever, smart, savvy player. And she made everybody else who played with her, better.”

Lane said that being a part of Team USA was a special bonding experience. 

“I shared something with those 15 or so women that was indescribably delicious, but I can’t describe it to you,” Lane said. “And I get emotional when I talk about it. My greatest accomplishment was representing my country. You take so much pride in that. Even today, when the national anthem is played, I still get welled up and think of that experience.”

Redfern, who didn’t start playing the game until her freshman year in college, became a four-year standout midfielder at Ursinus College and two-time All-American. She helped lead Ursinus to the 1986 NCAA Division III national championship after the Bears finished as national runner-up in 1985. Redfern was selected as the most outstanding player in the 1986 and 1987 NCAA Tournament. Following college, Redfern was a six-year member of the U.S. Women’s National Team Program, culminating with the 1993 World Cup championship in Scotland. 

Hall of Famer Kathleen Geiger, Redfern’s teammate on Team USA, served as her presenter.

“She was tenacious. She was a very good defender, and I think a lot of that came from her love of the game,” Geiger said. “It was all new, but she was taking it all in like a sponge. Every time you saw her, there was a new part to her game. She did all the things to make a team successful. If there was a ground ball to be had, it was Jill. If there was a girl to run down, it was Jill. As a teammate, you wanted her on your team.”

Redfern said that having a strong multi-sport background and being a good overall athlete helped in her late transition to lacrosse. 

“My general sports I.Q. helped me out a lot, especially since my skills were behind those of other players,” Redfern said. “I think I was just a good athlete with good instincts, and speed was definitely one of my greatest assets. At the U.S. level, you couldn’t just get by on athleticism. My teammates on that team exposed me to the types of skills that you would need to play at that level. I have so much appreciation for them helping me to be the best version of myself.” 

Wood was a two-time first team collegiate All-American at Virginia and co-captain of the 1991 Cavaliers team that won the NCAA national championship. She was named the IWLCA’s Defensive Player of the Year that season. After college, Wood was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team Program from 1991 to 1997, and played on the 1997 U.S. World Cup Team that captured gold in Japan. 

Julie Myers, Wood’s college teammate and the current head coach at Virginia, served as her presenter.

“Robin is fierce and tough as nails. Mentally and physically, there was no one who was going to beat her,” Myers said. “She didn’t make any mistakes. She was a hard worker and she set the tone. She was a great leader.”

Wood was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002, and had her jersey (#24) retired at UVA in 2012.

“The criteria at UVA (for retiring a jersey) is nearly impossible to hit,” Myers said. “You have to be a team captain, an All-American, a player of the year, a national champion, and a world champion. It’s really hard to do and it’s a tremendous honor.”

Wood said that her aim as a defender was always focusing on the next play.

“Getting a ground ball was a win for me. Intercepting the ball was a win. Blocking a shot was a win. I wanted to do all the little things right,” she said.

Capping her playing career by defeating Australia in the gold medal game at the 1997 World Championship remains a coveted memory for Wood.

“The championship game was very exciting. After the game, I remember running around the field while holding the U.S. flag, and it’s such a special moment. It’s one of my best memories. To do it with your teammates who have all worked so hard to get to where you are, it was something that I’ll never forget.”

Payette was inducted as a truly great contributor. Recognized as one of the nation’s best officials, she has served as an umpire for 35 years and remains active. She has worked five NCAA championship games and eight national semifinal games during her 30-year collegiate umpiring career. She has also worked international events, collegiate club championships, conference championships and numerous high school state championships through the years. 

Laura Hebert, friend and colleague, served as Payette’s presenter and said her on-the-field persona keeps the game running smoothly. 

“She has always been the one to calm the waters,” Hebert said. “She just relates so well to players, coaches and the crew. She is a strong official, but so often when she is on the field, you don’t notice her.” 

As an administrator, Payette has been chair of the US Lacrosse Women’s Officials Committee and spearheaded the updating of national training and rating manuals for women’s lacrosse officials. She has also been an active clinician for officials’ training events nationwide for over 30 years. In recognition of her longtime service, the US Lacrosse Laurette Payette Service Award was created in her honor in 2015.

“Very early on, I got involved in the (USWLA’s) national umpiring committee, and I’ve been on that committee non-stop for 32 years,” Payette said. “Part of our job was to recruit, train, and retain officials. I was always driving somewhere to do rules meetings, training of officials, observing of officials. It was always something that would help careers of officials. I’m a teacher at heart, and that’s what I’ve always done.”

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. Over 400 lacrosse greats are honored in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, which is located with the Lacrosse Museum at US Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland.

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