The unique history of the Arizona lacrosse team was started in 1960 by east coast transplants looking to keep playing the game they loved. They were the first western school to elevate their program to varsity status in 1964, but under title IX the minor sports programs at Arizona like lacrosse were dropped to a club distinction a few years later. Since then, the club program has been the home of future politicians to Hollywood stuntmen for almost 50 years. There is no better program to represent the Wild West than the University of Arizona Wildcats.
The program’s first Coach Carl Runk, who went on to win a National Championship at Towson University in 1974, set the stage for current day Mickey-Miles Felton era. There is not a more colorful character to represent what Arizona lacrosse is all about than Mickey.
Mickey left New York City behind him in 1976 and fate brought Mickey to Tucson to start a new life. He happened to stumble upon a couple kids playing catch with their lacrosse sticks near the University of Arizona and asked to join in having never played the sport before despite living near Long Island. 40 years of playing and coaching later, Mickey is the sole reason why the Arizona lacrosse team is what it is today.
With a “Yowsa!” and an “Ohhh Yeeeaaahhh!” Mickey could be found on the Wildcat sideline enthusiastically leading his players to victory during his coaching days from the 1970s until his final season in 2013. Mickey was rarely ever paid to coach the team and worked so hard for so many years as a volunteer doing his best to give the young men of the Arizona lacrosse team the greatest college sports experience he could.
Mickey coined the team’s nickname the Laxcats and served as the team’s biggest motivator and cheerleader from the sideline as he wrangled them together. Giving legendary pregame speeches and always keeping the mood light with his jokes. He brought players from all kinds of different backgrounds together and turned them into teams that were known for their flashy and energetic style of play. Former Arizona player Jeff Kinsella remembers scoring on a fast break with a textbook overhand shot and having Mickey ask him why he didn’t try a more creative shot because“it would have looked better if it was behind the back!”
Having fun with how the team looked was just as important as how they played for Mickey and he would make sure their uniforms and equipment reflected their performance on the field with as much DPSI (Dazzle Per Square Inch) as possible.
Mickey himself was always dressed to impress in his bolo ties and cowboy shirts on the sideline. Wearing all black during one game in the 115 degree Arizona heat someone asked if he was hot and to which he responded “Mickey-Miles is too cool to be hot.” From being featured in a local dry cleaner’s commercials picking up Arizona lacrosse jerseys with Laxcat proudly featured on his license plate to his one of a kind cowboy boot and sneaker combo, Mickey is not afraid to do things in his own unique way.
However, there is a lot more to Mickey than just being flashy. Mickey cared more than anybody about his players and his community. One of the first things new players on the team would learn was Mickey’s phone number because he was the first person you would want to call if you were ever in a pinch. Mickey always gave everybody a second chance and many D1 transfers found their way to Arizona to play for him. Even today he is constantly organizing alumni events and is a regular at his players’ weddings.
Mickey organized his famous holiday camps and charity games as well as helping other schools find coaches or anything else they needed to play. He is a Co-Founder of the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League and his efforts have helped dozens of schools out west start club teams in the MCLA. His impact is also felt internationally as Mickey has been influential in the growth of lacrosse in Israel. He’s traveled to Israel to coach and promote the sport and was a coach for the Men’s Lacrosse National team at the 2014 and 2018 World Games.
Mickey was named Coach of the Year five times, has more than 300 wins, and was appropriately the first inductee into the University of Arizona Men’s Lacrosse Club Team Hall of Fame in 2018. He can still be found at Arizona games cheering on the Laxcats.
Powell Lacrosse would like to say thank you to Mickey-Miles Felton for everything he has done and continues to do for the lacrosse community.
Find out more about Arizona lacrosse at http://www.uofalacrosse.com.