PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- It was a common sight before both of Virginia's victories at Lincoln Financial Field over the holiday weekend.
UVA head coach Lars Tiffany running around with his team during warmups, wooden lacrosse stick in hand. Or Tiffany off to the side of the field, discussing the stick with people. He was holding it one hand while fist-bumping his players with the other as they left the locker room for Saturday's NCAA semifinal game against Duke, and again before Monday's title game against Yale.
The stick was handmade by longtime stick-maker Alfie Jacques on the Onondaga Nation Reservation in New York. It came from the coach's father, Bradford Tiffany -- who died in late January, before he could present it to his son.
When Tiffany returned to upstate New York for his father's funeral in early February, one of his childhood friends surprised him with the stick.
“As he handed it to me, some of family members said, ‘Oh, we’ve got to put that on a wall. We’ve got to put that in a case.’ And Joe said, ‘Oh no, no, no, no. This stick was meant to be played with,'" Tiffany said after his team 's 13-9 win in Monday's NCAA championship. "And it as a wonderful reminder to me and my family, ‘Oh yeah.’"
So the stick returned to Charlottesville with the head coach, and quickly became a day-to-day part of the UVA program. Tiffany would use the stick in practice, or before games. It was rewarded to the UVA player who had the toughest defensive performance in each game.
Tiffany waved the stick at some fans as he returned to the Cavaliers' locker room after the on-field celebration of UVA's latest NCAA title.
Afterward, he was asked if he planned to retire the stick following the postseason run.
"It’ll continue to be a part of the Virginia lacrosse program. And I’m just really, really fortunate," he replied. "The day I’d told the team that my father had passed away, every one of them hugged me.”