Ed Calkins, incoming chair of US Lacrosse and past chair of the US Lacrosse Foundation Board, was in the midst of fundraising for the National Campaign for Lacrosse —a $15 million capital campaign which helped result in the construction of new headquarters for US Lacrosse —when he decided on a special initiative. He, like many of his other colleagues, wanted to dedicate a piece of US Lacrosse's new headquarters to a legend of the game.

Immediately, Denver coach and 2002 National Hall of Fame inductee Bill Tierney came to mind. Tierney recruited Calkins to Princeton, where they helped fuel the rise of one of lacrosse's most storied programs. It was fitting that Calkins wanted to recognize his former coach.

In the summer of 2014, after speaking with potential donors, Calkins called to let Tierney know of his plans.

"There is a group of people that believe that we should be sponsoring something for you in your name," he told Tierney.

"That's wonderful, Ed. That will be a nice bookcase," replied Tierney, the architect of seven NCAA titles and the 1998 world championship with Team USA.

"I think it will be a little bigger than a bookcase, Coach," Calkins said, jokingly.

Months passed before Calkins got back to Tierney. The honor was larger than either had imagined.

"Are we talking about a room now?' Tierney asked Calkins. "Or a staircase? What are we talking about here?"

"Bill, I'm talking about the field," Calkins said.

The field at the sport's new headquarters would be named after Tierney.

"It's still pretty emotional to hear those words," Tierney said, reflecting on that conversation.

US Lacrosse moved into its new home in May and completed William G. Tierney Field shortly thereafter. Months of reaching out to those influenced by Tierney helped Calkins reach his monetary goal and make the dedication a reality.

The process will come full circle Saturday at 2 p.m., when Tierney's new team (Denver) will face off with his old team (Princeton) in a fall exhibition on the field bearing his name — the first collegiate game to take place at US Lacrosse.

"You think of the people that have fields dedicated after them," Tierney said. "In a kind of silly way, most people that have a field named after them are dead. Hopefully, I plan on coaching for a lot more years. ... For this one day, it's going to be about the people I've been around, the people I've coached and the people that I love."

Tierney said he's not sure how he'll feel when he steps onto the field Saturday, but he still has a game to coach. As if it isn't a given, his mind and heart are always on his team.

"We're going to play a game where their team is going to try to beat my team and my team is going to try to beat their team," Tierney said. "My emotions are going to be changing a lot. I'm sure I'll yell at the refs a couple times along the way."

That doesn't surprise Calkins, a member of Tierney's first recruiting class at Princeton in 1988. Tierney helped Calkins with admissions and helped him get into Princeton to join a program with a less-than-impressive track record.

But Tierney believed in his new program. He spoke to Calkins and the rest of his freshman class after a team meeting in 1988 and offered them a path to success.

"Everybody else leaves and there are 15 or 16 of us, and he closes the door and says, 'I brought you guys here for a reason,'" Calkins said. "'You're the ones that are going to turn this program around. By the time you're seniors, you're going to be playing for a national championship.' We were just young enough and dumb enough to believe him."

Tierney was right. Calkins helped Princeton win the 1992 NCAA championship, one of five titles in a seven-year span for the Tigers. Tierney took a struggling program and made it a powerhouse.

"You put all of that together and there are absolutely days where still, 25 years later, I sort of pinch myself," Calkins said. "How could that have happened? It doesn't just happen to a lot of people in life."

It was that experience that inspired Calkins to lead the effort to have a field dedicated in Tierney's honor. The Campaign for Lacrosse did not exist when Calkins joined the Foundation Board in 2008, but talk of a new headquarters had already begun. He was a vital in fundraising efforts by the time he became chair in 2010 and helped launch the campaign in 2014.

Calkins and US Lacrosse supporters reached the fundraising goal for the field in early summer 2015, shortly after Tierney had led Denver to its first NCAA championship — the first by any team outside of the eastern seaboard. The honor represents the lasting and successful career of one of lacrosse's greatest coaches.

But has Tierney done all he wanted in his career?

"No, because I want to win the next national championship," he said.

That attitude is one of the reasons Calkins said Tierney gave him the perfect lacrosse experience. He'll be reflecting on those times Saturday, as the dedication he worked so hard to solidify will be come alive.

"On Saturday, it's going to be sort of that same feeling I had when I watched Denver win the national championship in 2015," Calkins said. "Kind of like 'Wow. We got him.' We graduated from high school as 17-18-year olds not having a clue about the world just knowing that we wanted to play lacrosse at a good school. The program that we entered was in disarray and we ended up with the greatest coach of all time. We got him. Somehow, we got him."

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