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Hofstra Athletics Annual Report Feature Article
James Metzger photo
A quarter of a century, 25 years, two and a half decades no matter how you say it, that is a long time to be away from anything, especially something you love. But that is exactly how long James C. Metzger ’83 stayed away from the game and school he loved. Since reconnecting with Hofstra and the sport of lacrosse, Metzger has tried to make up for lost time by becoming a leading supporter of the program. Metzger played lacrosse at Hofstra during the 1979 and 1980 seasons, earning honorable memention All- America honors following his sophomore season. Prior to his arrival at Hofstra, he was a standout at Half Hollow Hills East High School. He earned High School All-America honors, was the League I and Suffolk County scoring champion, and won the Lt. Raymond Enners Award as the Outstanding Player in Suffolk County. Following his 1980 season at Hofstra, he walked away from the sport. I left my stick, my helmet and my gloves in my locker, said Metzger. I did not see a lacrosse game or go back to Shuart Stadium for 25 years.After leaving Hofstra for personal reasons, Metzger joined the business world and started in the insurance ield in 1983. In 1989 he founded the Whitmore Group, which has grown into a full service insurer. While Metzger left the sport of lacrosse behind, he did not forget the lessons learned on the ield. The two years I spent at Hofstra, plus my prior athletic experiences helped build the foundation on which I built my professional life in sales and in business, says Metzger. I am able to reach deep down inside myself, in regards to competition, to overcome the obstacles we face as entrepreneurs and salespeople. We are challenged almost daily and I draw many parallels from sports to business. Business is a team game. My business is relationship- driven, not only relationships with my clients but also with my staff. I have close to 70 employees and the ability to build relationships with my management team and key executives is just as important as the relationships I have with my blue chip clients. I think it is my athletic background and sports mentality that serves me well in my business career. While that athletic background and mentality, coupled with business savvy have helped make him a success, it took his nephew to put him back in touch with the game of lacrosse. Rob Pannell was enjoying an outstanding senior season at Smithtown West High School that saw him earn All-America honors. I reached out to former Hofstra Lacrosse greats Kevin Huff, Bob Quinlan and Vinnie Sombrotto to assist me with my nephew’s recruiting process since I had been out of the game for so long, said Metzger. I wanted them to assess his talent. Kevin had been his coach in 9th and 10th grade and Bob and Vinnie had been playing lacrosse all these years so I valued their opinions. Throughout these conversations, we talked more and more about Hofstra. Back in the game, so to speak, Metzger reconnected with the Hofstra Athletics program and the University as a whole. Being away for 25 years, things were not quite as he remembered them. The university and the athletics program has changed dramatically since I left, Metzger said. Not only has Hofstra raised the bar signiicantly with respect to athletics, it has also done so academically. The brand has become stronger. Hofstra has a very strong academic reputation. It is a well-rounded school. Hofstra has more resources now than when I played, Metzger explained. It is a irst class academic institution and with irst class athletics. Metzger’s return to Hofstra, however, did not simply involve him attending games and observing the growth that has taken place since the 1980s. In 2008 the Harry Royle-Vincent Sombrotto locker room was dedicated. The project, which was made possible by a gift from Metzger, included the complete renovation of the existing men’s lacrosse locker room and is named after Metzger’s former Hofstra coach (Royle) and teammate (Sombrotto). The Royle-Sombrotto Locker Room was richly rewarding for me personally, said Metzger. I chose to name it for my former coach, who I respect and admire. It was my way of saying thank you for the support he gave me during my freshman and sophomore years. It was also an opportunity to honor Vinnie ombrotto, my former teammate, who went on to become one of the game’s great players. He taught me a lot and motivated me. To be able to play with Vinnie for that one year also changed the course of my life.Another endeavor that Metzger has supported is the Traditions Project, which will be completed this fall in Margiotta Hall. The Traditions Project will be one of my most satisfying accomplishments as a contributor to Hofstra Athletics, Metzger explained. I named the Traditions Project after Lou DiBlasi, my former high school football and lacrosse coach, and Mike D’Amato, who is the only person to have been a lacrosse All-American and a member of a Super Bowl winning team. Lou and Mike were football and lacrosse players at Hofstra, and both are strong supporters of Hofstra Athletics. They bleed Hofstra blue and gold, so I am honored to be aligned with these two gentlemen. A second part of the project includes naming the Lacrosse ofice suite and reception area after Metzger, Huff and other Hofstra greats Gary Arnold and the Unterstein brothers (Chris, Kevin and Michael).“The project will celebrate the history of Hofstra’s Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse and Football programs. This project notonly honors the great players, but recognizes every player who competed at Hofstra University and I think that is important. I have never felt better about any philanthropic initiative. It is a great way to rally support among alumni and I can’t think of a better vehicle to promote Hofstra Athletics. Metzger’s support also carries over to the academic side of campus as he recently funded a summer internship within the Center for Civic Engagement in honor of his favorite faculty member, History Professor Michael D’Innocenzo. The gift will endow the Metzger-D’Innocenzo Endowed Summer Internship. I am proud to be associated with Hofstra University and am proud to be a leader in terms of supporting the institution. Hofstra treated me very well and has done so much for me. I think life is all about comebacks and, for not having attended an event for 25 years, I enjoy the opportunity to make up for lost time.,Jim Metzger, James Metzger


  • By admin, April 19, 2010 @ 6:23 am

    Letter to metzger from Ronni and Jeff Meyar

  • By BILL SMITH, December 8, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    I know this is a longshot, but I played in the 1979 Suffolk County PAL Football All-Star Game with Boomer Esiason and others. My 8 year old is facinated by that fact and would love to see a copy of the old program. Are you aware of any outlets to obtain things like that from the PAL?

  • By Arley, January 3, 2013 @ 10:51 am

    I must say I have to agree with your list. I know some people deasgrie here. Jim Brown joined that team when they were garbage. So did Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, those teams they joined were garbage and the numbers they produced. Even Gale Sayers got hurt after the ninth game in 4th season yet still led the league in rushing a year later but lacked the light speed he once had.. He was really the only one (other then Barry Sanders) that was close to Brown’s rushing average per carry.

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