Howard Benedict - Head Coach NCHS 1973-2007 - CT Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Howard Benedict grew up in Fairfield Connecticut and graduated from Fairfield Prep in 1963. He played varsity lacrosse at Lafayette College where he was a standout player. He graduated from Lafayette in 1967, majoring in Philosophy.
After graduating, Benedict taught English at Notre Dame of Fairfield and in Vermont, where he also coached. Over the summer of 1973, New Canaan High School was interested in hiring a teacher who could establish and develop a lacrosse program. Neighboring town Wilton already had varsity lacrosse, beginning in 1969.
Benedict was hired as the school’s first varsity coach. In the spring of 1974, Benedict was able to encourage nearly 100 boys to turn out for the sport as New Canaan fielded its first varsity and junior varsity teams. On April 4, 1974, Benedict and the NCHS program got off to a positive start with a 7-3 victory over the Hopkins School.
Wilton was way ahead of New Canaan, having established a youth program in 1971. In order to grow the sport in New Canaan, and compete with Wilton, Benedict founded the New Canaan Lacrosse Association in 1979. Benedict’s brother, Jonathan, a Fairfield County State Attorney, drew up the non-profit incorporation papers.
Benedict was the New Canaan High School Head Lacrosse Coach for 34 years. He won a total of 8 FCIAC and 8 State Championships. Benedict led the team to 18 appearances in the State finals and to 23 FCIAC finals. From 1977 to 2007, only on five different occasions did Benedict not lead his team to the State or FCIAC Finals.
Benedict is still the winningest coach in Connecticut lacrosse history.
In three different decades, he would help lead the Rams to undefeated seasons (1982, 1990, 2003), still the most of any school in Connecticut. NCHS highest National Ranking was in 1990 (#2 in the nation).
In 1996, after the Rams won the state championship, Benedict was named the CHSCA Outstanding Coach of the Year.
In 1998, Benedict watched one of his players, David Curry ’93, win the World Championship for Team USA. Ironically, current NCHS Head Coach, Chip Buzzeo (NCHS 1996), drove Coach Benedict to the game played on Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins. Together, they watched the "greatest game" ever played.
In 2001, Benedict was honored at the "The Reunion Celebration," hosted by Major League Lacrosse, which was a tribute to the impressive lacrosse talent produced by the state of Connecticut, and those who have contributed to the game’s growth in the state. At halftime of the first-ever MLL Lacrosse Star game, Major League Lacrosse honored the most influential and prestigious coaches and players whose contributions have made Connecticut into one of the most prolific lacrosse talent pools in the country. Benedict was named one of the Connecticut Lacrosse Star Reunion Honorees.
Benedict is considered a “founding father” of Connecticut lacrosse. He held the first ever lacrosse camp in Connecticut. Benedict, ironically, used to invite players from Darien to come play in the youth program in New Canaan when Darien had not yet established a youth developmental program. Darien has since become New Canaan's biggest rival.
Benedict's last FCIAC and State championships came in 2003, when the team was 22-0 and defeated rival Darien three times. In 2007, Benedict ended Darien's three-year streak of not losing a game to any team in Connecticut. Benedict led the team to a 5-4 victory over Darien in the FCIAC Semi-Finals.
During his coaching career, Benedict produced 35 All-Americans, 76 All-State players, and 120 ALL-FCIAC Players.
In 2008 Howard Benedict was named US Lacrosse CT Man of the Year.
In 2011 Howard Benedict was inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Coach Benedict was awarded the "Frank Barron Lifetime Acheivement Award" at the conclusion of the 2014 season for his extraordinary contributions to the sport of lacrosse in Connecticut.
Thank you Coach Benedict!