Gary Charles Gait may be the greatest lacrosse player to ever live.  His twin brother Paul might be even better.

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Born in Victoria, British Columbia, April 5, 1967, as the youngest of four children to a father who managed building supplies and mother that worked as a secretary, the twins grew up in Brentwood Bay, a small neighborhood on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.  The twins—who grew up playing basketball, soccer, rugby and track & field—began playing lacrosse at four.  The boys teamed with Greg and Grant Peppers–another set of twins that lived down the street and were the same age—to play in box [indoor] lacrosse tournaments.  The team, coached by Greg and Grant’s father, Bob, dominated the best competition Canada had to offer, winning the national championships in Peewee [under 12], Bantam [under 14] and Midget [under 16] divisions between 1979 and 1983.  Following their success at the youth level, the Gait brothers tried out for the Canadian National Men’s team as 17-year-olds.  They failed to make the squad, but the Canadian coach was so impressed with their talent that he contacted his friend, Roy Simmons, Jr.—legendary coach of college powerhouse Syracuse University.   Simmons, who amassed a 290-96 record while winning six NCAA championships at Syracuse, vigorously recruited the twins, ultimately convincing them to leave B.C. for upstate New York.

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As freshman, the Gait brothers earned starting positions—Paul at attack and Gary as a midfielder—while leading the Orangemen to the NCAA Final Four, where they lost to Cornell, 18-15.  The following year, Syracuse won the NCAA title, Gary earned the Lt. Raymond Enners Award as NCAA Player of the Year and both brothers were named First Team All-American.  The Orangemen successfully defended their NCAA title in 1989, beating Johns Hopkins, 13-12, in the final behind four goals from Paul Gait, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.  Gary Gait added two goals in the championship game and the twins were again voted First Team All-American.  As seniors, the “Golden Gaits” led Syracuse to its third straight NCAA title.  Both were again named First Team All-American, while Gary was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament and claimed his second Enners Award.  In four college seasons, Paul Gait scored 212 points and averaged 4.45 points per game, while Gary scored 253 points and averaged 4.52 points per game.  Gary Gait set records for career [192] and single-season [70] goals and left Syracuse as the greatest scorer in NCAA history.  Collectively, the Gait brothers accounted for nearly nine points in every game they played for the Orange.

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Gary Gait was the first overall selection in the 1991 National Lacrosse League Draft, with Paul being picked five spots later.  Gary played professionally from 1991 to 2009, earning Rookie of the Year honors while being named league MVP six times, including five in a row from 1995 to 1999.  He led the league in goals and points seven times and won three NLL championships.  Paul Gait played 13 seasons in the NLL and two in the MLL.  The Gait brothers led the Victoria Shamrocks to the Mann Cup in 1999, where they were Co-MVPs and, seven years later, helped Canada defeat the U.S. in the 2006 World Lacrosse Championships.

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The Gait brothers were both three-time All-Americans while leading Syracuse University to three straight NCAA titles.  Gary wore #22, beginning a tradition within the SU lacrosse program patterned after what the Orangemen did in football, where # 44 was worn [Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little] by the team’s best player.  After Gary Gait, # 22 was worn by each of the Powell Brothers [Daily Dose, September 25] between 1995-2004.  The Gaits popularized innovative moves like behind-the-back passing and scoring, the “hidden ball trick,” and “Air Gait,” a move first made famous by Gary in the 1988 NCAA semi-finals against Penn.  In the second quarter, Gait looped around behind the six-foot high goal and launched himself into the air, slung his stick over the goal and stuffed the ball into the front of the net to tie the score 2-2.  One quarter later, he performed the move again in a play [since outlawed by the NCAA] that has become the lacrosse equivalent of a Michael Jordan slam dunk.  The only other player ever to duplicate the “Air Gait” is Paul, who did so against St. Johns in 1990.  Gary Gait is the only player in history to win every possible lacrosse title during his career, including NCAA, National Lacrosse League, Major League Lacrosse [indoor], Mann Cup, Heritage Cup, and Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship.  Paul Gait played in the NLL, MLL, WLA, Canadian National Team and retired sixth on the NLL all-time points list.  Gary and Paul Gait are members of the U.S. Lacrosse National Hall of Fame, National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame, Syracuse Athletics Hall of Fame and British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s been said he had a little more pizazz, a little more flair and I have more power.  But in my eyes it’s just the opposite.”

–  Paul Gait, on comparisons with his brother Gary


Comments

  1. Thanks for this outstanding feature on the greatest twins in LAX history. Earlier this week you gave us the Banach Brothers. Today we get the Golden Gaits. What’s next, the Williams Sisters?

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