Leo Hartford passes away

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Leo Hartford passes away

Postby SkylineCoach » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:50 am

If you played lacrosse in California in the 80's and 90's, you knew Leo Hartford. He was that guy who you always have to account for. Wherever he was on the field, you had to have eyes in the back of your head, because chances were if you happened to turn around, he'd be right there. To blast you out of your cleats.

Leo played for the famous (infamous?) Novato HS teams of the mid 80's. He was a face off middie, with the size of a pulling guard, who patrolled the entire field like a strong safety given a full-time green light. Like so many of his teammates of that era, he went on to Sonoma State where he kept doing what he did best - winning his face offs, scoring goals, and blasting people right out of their cleats.

By the early 90's he was playing for the old Berkeley Club. So many of us who had played against him in High School & College finally got a chance to wear the same jersey as he was - and stop looking over our shoulders. At this time he was also starting his own business, back when most of us were still trying to figure out what to do when we grew up. We would show up to practice in 6 year old Nissan Sentras and Toyota pickups - our cars left over from college. Leo had a 7-series BMW. Just like he played on the field, he played hard in business.

Leo coached a lot of lacrosse too, as he raised a young family out in Danville. Strength & conditioning were always his primary area of expertise, as well as working with FOGOs as often as possible.

Leo passed away in his sleep last week on vacation in Hawaii. He was 40. He leaves behind 3 young children... and a vastly diminished Northern California lacrosse community. As Maurice Howell posted on his Facebook page, "Arch enemy turned buddy." No better way to say it.

The memorial services for Leo have been finalized. The services will all be taking place at St. Isidore Church
440 La Gonda, Danville, CA 94526
(925) 837-2122

Schedule as follows:
Tuesday August 4th, 7-9pm - Public Viewing
Wednesday August 5th, 11 am - Memorial Service open to all followed by reception.

A fund has been set up for Leo's 3 children. Checks can be made out and mailed to:

Leo Hartford Children's Memorial Fund
Chase Bank
Danville Financial Center
661 San Ramon Valley, Blvd.
Danville, CA 94526

To wire funds contact Tina Medeiros at 925-837-1533
Last edited by SkylineCoach on Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Leo Hartford passes away

Postby backdoor » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:09 pm

Information passed on to me:

We are having a game to honor the life, spirit and passion of Leo Hartford. Leo grew up playing lacrosse in Novato, was the first California player to be named high school All America. Played his college ball at Sonoma State University, Played club for many years in the bay area. Coached at San Ramon Valley High and Scorpions Lacrosse Club in Danville. Leo passed away on July 27th. He was 41 years old.

We have BlackHawk Field reserved from 4 to 7 pm on Sunday August 16th. The game is open to all players high school and up. We are inviting players who played with Leo, coached with Leo, or were coached by Leo. That being said the game is open to all in the lacrosse family.

The format will be "pick up" and players are free to take as few or as many "runs" as they would like. The Dog restaurant in Danville is donating hot dogs and hamburgers. Non players are welcome to come out as well and enjoy a BBQ and music. Should be a great way to honor the spirit and passion of great warrior.
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Re: Leo Hartford passes away

Postby Grizz » Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:43 pm

Leo was the strength and conditioning coach for a number of years for the San Ramon Valley HS Lacrosse team. He prepared off season programs for players, developed a nutrition program and led pre-practice and game warm ups. He took a local team of players to the Sonoma Shootout. He also ran the annual crab feed fund raiser for the SRV lax team.

I remember Leo telling me that, on a spring brake trip to San Diego, he was sitting with his back to my son’s table at breakfast, when he heard the tearing of paper. Leo spun around and saw my son tearing open the top of his fifth packet of sugar for his cereal. Needless to say, Blake didn’t eat that bowl of cereal. Leo hovered over him the rest of the trip.

St. Isidore’s is a very large church. It was filled to capacity, with standing room only, with a lot of tears when his little daughters spoke of their father. He touched a lot of people, both in his work as well as in lacrosse. Leo was a great guy, bursting with passion and enthusiasm. He will be missed.
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Re: Leo Hartford passes away

Postby Billax » Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:23 pm

Leo Hartford's Memorial game was held today at Blackhawk Field in Danville. A spirited game ensued, with players both young and old participating. Jack McCormick, a rising Frosh at De La Salle was probably the youngest participant, but many of Leo's former teammates - and his former High School Coach - saw plenty of action as well.

Those who have a long history with Lacrosse remind us that our game is different. We are a tight and caring community. We come together in sad moments like these to remember and to celebrate the life of those who have passed and to celebrate the game that brings us all together. All that happened today at Blackhawk Field. Marty Jayne initiated the idea of a Memorial game and Jeff Fagen did most of the organizing for this wonderful tribute. Beer, hot dogs, burgers, and cupcakes for dessert awaited players and fans alike. All told, more than a hundred folks attended.

Like who? Well, fans on the sidelines included:
• Former College All-Americans like Coach Peter Worstell and the great UVA keeper Tillman Johnson
• Lacrosse Moms and wives like Mesdames Giroux, Fagen, McGovern, Hock, Stokes, Moss and many others. Lacrosse women are the greatest!

Refs in attendance included:
• John Boone, Alex Snader, David Bagdan, and Brad Hock

Players included:
• World Champion Jim Moss
• Cal Coach Dan Nourse
• Current Monte Vista Coach and 1992 Saint Ignatius grad Brian Giovanola
• Former High School All-Americans like Ryan Westfall top college players like Cam Giroux,
• A large group of terrific High School players, including the aforementioned Jack McCormick, Jackson Brown, Brendan Fagen, Mike Tagliaferri, Caset Hock and many others.
• Lots of Leo's former Novato teammates and friends

A couple of refs strapped it on today. Boonie was in the cage for one of the teams. He kept a flag in his pocket, threatening unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to anyone who shot too hard on him! Ben Stokes, a former UCLA teammate of Jeff Fagen manned the other cage. Brad Hock got some burn and looked good on the field.

Here are a few pix of the event:
Jim Moss, Canadian Style

Peter Worstell, Tillman Johnson & John Tagliaferri

Brad & Casey Hock

Pre-game rememberance


Messrs Bagdan and Boone

More pix at:
Sports don't build character, they reveal it. - Heywood Broun
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Re: Leo Hartford passes away

Postby SkylineCoach » Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:06 am

Great to hear the event was done right. Probably nobody better than Marty to think it up. I was sorry to be out of town. Saw Andy Still was there, he's a NorCal OG for sure, started playing for Skyline in something like 79 and still playing now. Lacrosse is new enough out here that we haven't lost too many guys from the original community. Glad to see we can rally around the tough times just like we do for the good ones.
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Re: Leo Hartford passes away

Postby BHS88 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:28 pm

This is coming woefully late, but I moved to the East coast after high school, lost touch with the Nor-Cal lacrosse community and I only recently learned of Leo's death. I didn't know him well, but he's somebody I will always remember. He was intimidating to play against and inspiring to play with.

I wanted him to be a villain, but he wasn't. As was mentioned earlier in this thread, you had to have your head up when he was on the field, or your game or season could be over - the guy was big and strong. Seeing him barrel down the field, shredding my Middies and defensemen with the "swim move" (I had never seen the swim move before Leo) was somewhat terrifying for me, waiting for him in goal, all of 5'8''/155. We (Berkeley High) had a lot of memorable games against Novato. The games were always intense and typically well-played (for that era). Trying to better an extreme competitor like Leo could bring out the best in anyone and any team. It was a pleasure to compete against him.

In 1987, when he was a senior, we played together on the NCJLA All-Star team against that year's Nor-Cal champs, University High. He was a tremendous guy. Extremely friendly, generous with his praise for others and an inspiring leader. He told us we would win, we listened and we did. I can only imagine what it would be like to play a whole season with him.

My most sincere condolences go out to his family and friends for their loss. Judging from the many comments on this and other sites honoring his life, his leadership, generosity and warmth touched a great many people beyond those who took the field against #57.

May he rest in peace.
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