One on One with Bill Malizia

Bill Malizia is a lacrosse pioneer with a very diverse background

Born and raised in Philadelphia, “Lizard” has quite an accomplished lacrosse background.

Player, administrator, league founder are just a few of the hats Bill has worn.

So, let’s go One on One with Bill Malizia

KMN-​ Philly guy, how did you discover lacrosse?

BM​- Growing up in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, I lived near William Penn Charter HS, they had a Lacrosse Team and a neighbor played on their team. I would see him walking around with his stick and was curious about it but it wasn’t until the National Lacrosse League came to Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Wings in May of 1974, that I really became interested in the sport!

Several of my friends and I went to a Wings game and a couple of us bought sticks at a “stick night” promotion and I was hooked ever since. We would practice/play several hours a day and went to several clinics sponsored by the Wings and started to learn how to play.

KMN-Junior Wings lacrosse team. Where did they play and what was your role?

BM- In the spring of 1975, I and several of my friends went to play lacrosse after a year of having the sticks. One of my friends was crazy enough to the goalie. We had built our own 4’ 6” x 4’ goal and full equipment the goalie!

We were playing on the turf field at Penn Charter HS when the Philadelphia Wings Team showed up for practice on the turf field (They had just installed new turf at the Spectrum) Norm Treinish who was on the board of the Wings (Treasurer) and coach of the Merion Shooting Stars later to become the JR. Wings, saw us playing and asked us if we wanted to play on his team! Of course, we jumped at the opportunity. Eventually, I was named Co-Captain and was the team’s leading scorer too.

We went undefeated and played all of our games at the Spectrum before the Wings actual game and in between the periods as well. We also played in a tournament at the Cherry Hill Arena! We also had several Wings players (John Grant Sr, Carm Collins, Jim Hinkson, Ziggy Musial) coming to our practices on a regular basis to assist with the coaching.

KMN- You. Coached at Roman Catholic High School. What were your duties?

BM​-​ ​Yes, from 1999 to 2001. Roman’s Athletic Director at the time, Dave Falcone approached
me while I was at his bar (Jamestown Tavern). He said he heard that I had played Lacrosse and  Heyer and I assisted the athletic director with the scheduling and practice schedules. I had to teach the basics to kids that never played before and some had never even seen a game!!! In my first year, we won 8 games (the most wins in the school’s history) We won 7 or 8 the next two years and many players made all Catholic Honors and our goalie (Joe Kota) made 3rd team All-State. However, my work schedule would not allow the fourth season.

KMN-Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association… how were you involved in that?

​BM​- ​After all the Men’s Leagues that sprung up from the aftermath of the 1974-75 Pro league folded in 1981, they lasted from 1976-1981. I was still involved in taking a Team to Peterborough every summer, we would practice in a Basketball Gym (McDevitt Recreation Center in East Falls). In 1984 while working for Philly Parks and Rec I was assigned briefly to Ralph Rizzo Rink at Front and Washington. I asked what happens to the Rink in the summer?

They said nothing! So I asked if I could use it two nights a week for an hour and a half. I quickly got a friend who was the director of the welding shop at Holmesburg Prison to make us two 4’ x 4’ goals, my friends Keith Mays and Paul Stewart and I got together with Tracy, Keith, and Pete Shenandoah and we would play with no equipment just stick and a ball and you had to hit a small target in each top corner to score a goal! That as a lot of fun!

Then in the winter of 1985, they had the Lacrosse Super Series (Canada vs the USA) one game in Philadelphia, while attending that game I reconnected with several players from the old Men’s Leagues. The word spread that we could play at Rizzo Rink so in the Spring of 1985 I founded the “The Schuylkill Falls Lacrosse Club” I was planning on putting together a Men’s Box Lacrosse Team mainly with my friends from East Falls and a few players from surrounding areas of Philadelphia

. However we had over Fifty (50) players coming to Rizzo Rink, I decided to go with a league of four (4) teams with the purpose of providing a venue for all players to play traditional (CLA) Box Lacrosse in a safe and fair environment. So in 1986, I changed the name to the Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association (PBLA) and we added Two more teams (One from Ridley, PA, and several Native Americans players) this raised the quality of the League play. In 1992 after my second son was born I had to give up running the organization. I did play a couple more years after that in the league. I have not been involved since.

Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association… how were you involved in that?
​BM​- ​After all the Men’s Leagues that sprung up from the aftermath of the 1974-75 Pro league folded in 1981, they lasted from 1976-1981. I was still involved in taking a Team to Peterborough every summer, we would practice in a Basketball Gym (McDevitt Recreation Center in East Falls). In 1984 while working for Philly Parks and Rec I was assigned briefly to Ralph Rizzo Rink at Front and Washington. I asked what happens to the Rink in the summer? They said nothing! So I asked if I could use it two nights a week for an hour and a half. I quickly got a friend who was the director of the welding shop at Holmesburg Prison to make us two 4’ x 4’ goals, my friends Keith Mays and Paul Stewart and I got together with Tracy, Keith, and Pete Shenandoah and we would play with no equipment just stick and a ball and you had to hit a small target in each top corner to score a goal! That as a lot of fun! Then in the winter of 1985, they had the Lacrosse Super Series (Canada vs the USA) one game in Philadelphia, while attending that game I reconnected with several players from the old Men’s Leagues. The word spread that we could play at Rizzo Rink so in the Spring of 1985, I founded the “The Schuylkill Falls Lacrosse Club” I was planning on putting together a Men’s Box Lacrosse Team mainly with my friends from East Falls and a few players from surrounding areas of Philadelphia. However we had over Fifty (50) players coming to Rizzo Rink, I decided to go with a league of four (4) teams with the purpose of providing a venue for all players to play traditional (CLA) Box Lacrosse in a safe and fair environment. So in 1986, I changed the name to the Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association (PBLA) and we added Two more teams (One from Ridley, PA, and several Native Americans players) this raised the quality of the League play. In 1992 after my second son was born I had to give up running the organization. I did play a couple more years after that in the league. I have not been involved since.

KMN- Has the PBLA always been played at Ralph Rizzo Rink?

BM- Yes!

KMN-You took a team to Peterborough, what was that about?

BM​- Yes I took several Teams to Peterborough over several years and we played against several versions of their Men’s House League Teams with an occasional Senior A or Junior A player thrown in!

I also took teams to Whitby, Ontario, Several trips to The Onondaga Nation (played on their historic outdoor Box) and one Tournament at the Oneida Nation.

However, it all started in 1981 with former Wing’s All-Star Goalie Wayne Platt (who sadly passed away a few years ago) who had gotten married and was living in Collingdale, Pa. he was coaching our East Falls Team that played in the PMLL (Philadelphia Men’s Lacrosse League) and he got his Brother, Bobby Platt who was the director of the Peterborough Men’s House League to bring a team to a tournament outside of Philadelphia, then Wayne took our team to Peterborough for a long weekend and we played four games. I became friends with Bobby Platt and we organized a home and home series of games, Wayne Platt moved back to Peterborough and Bobby Platt turned the Peterborough Men’s League over to Ray Dance and Ray and I kept this tradition going into the 1990’s Ray (and his family) and I are best friends and I have been to his home almost every summer since 1986!!!!

KMN-​ The MSL, you have been a fan for many years, how does a Philly guy discover that league?

BM​- Through the years since the original Wings of 1974, I have followed the roots of where all these players came from and heard many stories from several original Wings about those games in Canada. Through my friendship with many people in Peterborough, I was able to attend a Junior A game while in Peterborough in 1981. I enjoy the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) style of play over every other form of Lacrosse. I would travel once a summer to watch games in Peterborough and Oshawa! And have been in Brampton, Ontario and Six nations to attend Mann Cup Finals as well!

So yes, I am a big fan of the Major Series Lacrosse League formerly the OLA Senior League and I am also a fan of the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) and the Can-Am League Too! I have been to many Mann Cup Championships all in the East (Ontario) since 1988! I will definitely be going to British Columbia to see a WLA game and hopefully a Mann Cup Championship there. I also follow and attend several Onondaga Redhawks games (Can-Am League) the Can-Am winner plays for the Presidents Cup. I attended the Presidents Cup tournament in 2015 hosted at the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory in Quebec, Canada

KMN-​ Recently retired, what are you doing with your time?

BM​- ​Been traveling a bit: I went to Ukraine for three weeks and went to Kenya for three weeks, and visited my friends in Peterborough, Ontario for three weeks. Relaxing, catching up with friends, slowly working on building our Home Care Agency with my wife, and contemplating getting involved in the Lacrosse World again. Also Refereeing PIAA Lacrosse and One Men’s Indoor League at XL Sports.

KMN-​ Do you have any lacrosse related projects that you can discuss?

BM​ – ​I am in the planning stages of putting together a youth Box Lacrosse (Indoor Lacrosse) Team for Philadelphia Children, ages yet to be determined. I may put on two Men’s Indoor Lacrosse Tournaments (one Annually), and I am also working on getting more support for Kenya’s Lacrosse Teams (Men and women). (My wife is from Kenya and I was there in July and going back in February).

Thanks to Bill for clearing his schedule to do this!!

By: Kevin Neibauer

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