Mike Nelson, a longtime volunteer with the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation (LIMLF), has been selected as the winner of the 2021 USA Lacrosse Homer R. Schwartz Leadership Award.
Nelson has served in various leadership roles for the LIMLF for over a decade and has been an active member of the Long Island lacrosse community for over 30 years. In addition to his service with the LIMLF, he has been president of the Nassau County PAL Youth Lacrosse League since 2015, and been active in leadership with Shootout for Solders, the Greenport Lacrosse Festival, and the Levittown Tomahawks Lacrosse Club.
Additionally, Nelson is founder and director of the Nassau County PAL Special Needs Lacrosse Program and the LIMLF Wheelchair Lacrosse Program. He has also served as a youth and high school coach on Long Island for almost 35 years.
“Mike is one of the hardest working volunteer leaders I have ever had the pleasure to know. When there is a need in the lacrosse community, or the community at large, Mike is the go-to person to help,” said Harry Jacobs, regional director of USA Lacrosse. “When I hear the phase ‘service above self’, that is Mike Nelson.”
Nelson’s lifelong association with lacrosse began as a player at Sewanhaka High School, where he was an All-County goalie who helped lead his team to the 1981 Long Island Championship. He continued his playing career at Adelphi University, and as a post-collegiate player with the North Hempstead Lacrosse Club. He started his coaching career as a varsity assistant at Sewanhaka in 1986.
In recognition of his significant contributions to the sport, Nelson has been previously honored with the LIMLF’s Harold ‘Whitey’ Henrickson Lifetime Achievement Award, the Nassau County Lacrosse Coaches Association Harvey Cohen Service Award, the Nassau County Lacrosse Officials Association James P. Condon Man of the Year Award, and the Nassau County Police Activity League Hero Honoree Award.
The USA Lacrosse Homer Schwartz Award was created in 2014 to recognize a local USA Lacrosse leader who embodies the same qualities of passion and dedication that Homer provided as a longtime USA Lacrosse chapter volunteer. Nelson becomes the ninth recipient of the award.
Prior winners of the Homer R. Schwartz Award are:
2014 - Jim Old, Hampton Roads Chapter
2014 - Tamara Boots (posthumous), St. Louis Chapter
2015 - Harry Jacobs, Long Island Metro Chapter
2016 - Don Aiello, Northern California Chapter
2017 - Clark Bell, Michigan Chapter
2018 – Scott Growney, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter
2019 – Donna Rose (posthumous), South Florida Chapter
2020 – Dave Cerny, North Coast Ohio Chapter
Homer Schwartz served as president of the Potomac Chapter of USA Lacrosse for 14 years and passed away in 2012. Due in large measure to his enthusiastic leadership, selfless service and contagious love for the game, Potomac’s membership grew from 1,200 to 10,000 during his tenure.