Before there was Lyle Thompson there was Casey Powell, and before him was Gary Gait. But before all of them was Jimmy Lewis – who is still regarded by many as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all-time.
A Long Island native, Lewis went to the Naval Academy where he would help infuse a change in the way lacrosse was played, especially at the attack position. From 1963-1966, Lewis put on a show with the Midshipmen and truly played a style of lacrosse that we wouldn’t see take a full hold on the game until the 80s and 90s.
Lewis was an innovator in many ways. He could use his speed to blow past defenseman and was able to take and pull off shots and passes and make plays that were very much ahead of his time. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound attackman was a wizard with a lacrosse stick.
During his time at Navy, Lewis helped lead the Midshipmen to three straight USILA National Championships in 1964, 1965, and 1966. Navy was also undefeated in each of those three seasons, posting a 22-0 record
Additionally, Lewis won the Jack Turnbull Award for the nation’s best attackman and was named a First-Team All-American in each of those three national championship seasons.
In his three seasons as a lacrosse player at Navy, Lewis tallied a total of 169 points (78G/91A). His best individual season from a statistical standpoint was in 1965 when Lewis put up 63 points (27G/36A).
The Baltimore Sun gave Lewis the title of “The Greatest Living Lacrosseman” during his days at Navy and the star was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1981. The most recent honor bestowed upon Lewis was the Tewaaraton Foundation giving him the Tewaaraton Legends Award in 2014.
Film from that time is scarce, but you can watch some tape of Jimmy Lewis going up against fellow Hall of Famer Hank Kaestner in a few Navy vs Johns Hopkins games from the mid-60s here.