(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)
*This article is part of a month long series, Black Lacrosse Stories, that highlights Black players and coaches who have made an impact on our game, but may be lesser known to many younger players today.*
Johnny Christmas is the most recent college players featured in this entire series. The Ardmore, Pa. native became a high school lacrosse legend in the greater Philly area while at Lower Merion High School, where he was a Three-Time All-American and broke the Pennsylvania all-time scoring record.
Like a stoke of lightning, Christmas burst onto the national college lacrosse season as a freshman in a way that very few players ever do. The attackman, who joined forces with senior Connor Gill and fellow freshman Joe Yevoli to form one of the best attack lines in the nation, tallied 44 points (29G/15A) while helping to lead Virginia to an NCAA seminal appearance where they fell in double overtime to Syracuse in an instant classic. Christmas was named an All-ACC selection and Third-Team All-American following his freshman campaign.
Statistically and team-wise, Christmas’ sophomore season in 2003 was the best of his college career. Christmas recorded a career-high 48 points (36G/12A), was named a Second-Team All-American, and helped lead the Cavaliers to their third NCAA title in program history. Virginia took down Maryland, 14-4, in the semifinals, and Johns Hopkins, 9-7, in the title game, riding the wave of goalie Tillman Johnson and his all-time great Championship Weekend performance. Christmas was held to no goals in their semifinal contest and had two goals and one assist in the title game.
Following that national championship run the year prior, the 2004 season was the worst of Christmas’ college career and is still one of the worst in Cavaliers lacrosse history. Virginia went 5-8 and missed the NCAA Tournament. Christmas had his worst statistical season that year, tallying just 21 points (11G/10A) in 12 games.
As a senior in 2005, Christmas helped lead Virginia back to the Final Four where they fell to Johns Hopkins, 9-8, in overtime. Playing alongside Matt Poskay and Matt Ward at attack, Christmas posted 39 points (19G/20A) during his senior season.
Following his college career, Christmas played in both the MLL and NLL for a pretty decent amount of time. He was also one of the faces of Maverick Lacrosse during the early 2010s and played on the 2007 USA World Indoor Lacrosse Championships team.
Christmas has been involved in several different ways as a coach since his playing days have ended, especially at the grassroots level. He currently serves as the head boy’s lacrosse coach at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif.