Former Skidmore lacrosse coach dies unexpectedly

Jack Sandler, the former Skidmore College men’s lacrosse head coach who guided the program to record
Jack Sandler, center, addresses his team when he was the men's lacrosse at Skidmore College. The Colby College lacrosse coach died suddenly Thursday while on a recruiting trip.
Jack Sandler, center, addresses his team when he was the men's lacrosse at Skidmore College. The Colby College lacrosse coach died suddenly Thursday while on a recruiting trip.

Jack Sandler, the former Skidmore College men’s lacrosse head coach who guided the program to record heights while also active in the Saratoga Springs community, died unexpectedly Thursday working out on a hotel treadmill during an out-of-state recruiting trip for Colby College. He was 35.

Sandler took over the top spot at Colby, a private liberal arts college in Waterville, Maine, three years ago. Prior to that, he served for eight years as the head coach of the Thoroughbreds.

As coach of the Thoroughbreds, Sandler earned Liberty League Coach of the Year honors in 2007 and 2011. United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) poll ranked his 2011 Skidmore team as high as 11th, the highest ranking in Skidmore history, Lacrosse Magazine reported.

Lacrosse Magazine also reported Sandler once served as co-chair of the executive board for the Saratoga Partnership for Prevention, an organization dedicated to decreasing youth substance abuse.

“Jack was both a friend and colleague,” said Bill Jones, Skidmore’s sports information director. “He was well-respected in the lacrosse world as one of the top young coaches in the country when he arrived at Skidmore in 2005, and more so when he left in 2013 to take over the Colby program.

“A firm believer in giving back, Jack and his teams were deeply involved in the Saratoga community, from helping at the Franklin Community Center to doing numerous youth lax clinics,” Jones continued. “Jack’s parents [Lance and Barbara] live in Saratoga and he visited often to see them and to check out the Saratoga race track. He was both a thoroughbred racing fan and owner.”

Sandler, a native of Long Island, was a three-sport star (lacrosse, wrestling, football) at Friends Academy before playing lacrosse at Bates College. After graduating, he immediately got into coaching, making his mark quickly in the Division III ranks.

“He made a tremendous impact in our community in a relatively short time,” said Ruth J. Jackson, Colby’s vice president for communications. “He made an impact on a lot of people — not just his players. I remember seeing him at games with just a huge grin on his face. He had just a wonderful smile.

“The whole lacrosse community, we have heard from people all over.”

The reaction on both the Skidmore and Colby campuses mirrored each other.

“I have had the privilege of knowing Jack since I arrived on campus and have been so impressed with his warmth, vitality, deep integrity, and genuine concern for his students,” Colby President David A. Greene wrote in an open letter Friday. “It was clear he loved the game of lacrosse and coaching, but his real passion was teaching and helping students develop their full potential physically, intellectually, and personally. We have been incredibly fortunate that Jack has been such an integral part of our community.”

Categories: College Sports

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