Total Lacrosse Magazine
I met John Keogh, aka Johnny Bomber, at the 2012 Hawaii Lacrosse Invitational(HLI). That was the 1st year i attended and played in the Hawaii Lacrosse Invitational(HLI). Johnny Bomber has been working as the Tournament Director for the Hawaii Lacrosse Invitational(HLI) since 2014. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work, time, & dedication to run a successful tournament. Especially, a tournament as big as the Hawaii Lacrosse Invitational(HLI). 2018 marks the 27th anniversary of the HLI. The tournament started with four teams back in 1991. Some of the teams playing included Mount Washington Tavern, SoCal All Stars, and Canada. Games were held at the Waimanalo Polo Grounds for the first few years, but eventually moved to Kapiolani Park located next to Diamond Head and across the street from Waikiki Beach. By the early 2000’s, a contingent of Japanese teams began participating, led by Yas Harakawa. The Japanese teams are the lifeblood of the tournament and their unbridled enthusiasm reminds us why we love this game so much. Eventually a Wahine division(Women’s Division) was added, also bringing a number of Japanese teams and mainland players. Many professional players attend annually because the tournament runs during the MLL and NLL off season. The Sunday men’s elite final is one of the best lacrosse games you will see played anywhere in the world. I am very proud to have Johnny Bomber as a member of the Total Lacrosse Hall Of Fame, Class Of 2017!
JV: When did you first get involved with the sport of lacrosse?
JB: I started playing at 10 years old. We had a brand new youth lacrosse program in my town (Fairport, NY), and my older brother played, so I started playing. I was lucky growing up when I did, Fairport had an awesome team in the mid-80’s, led by Tim Soudan and Jacques Monte. I grew up idolizing those guys playing football and lacrosse. I graduated from Fairport High School in 1992, and played at Ithaca College (Class of ’96) for four years. From 2000-2002 I served as the head lacrosse coach at the University of New Haven, while earning my master’s degree in education. Once I had my teaching certificate I thought I would try moving to Hawaii for a couple years, but I ended up staying. I taught at Kapolei High School and started a lacrosse team there for 9 seasons. We played in the Aloha Youth Lacrosse Association high school division. Rudy Schaefer was the founder of AYLA, and our league at one point had six boys high school teams. I took a sabbatical from teaching for a few years, but now I am back in the classroom teaching at Saint Louis High School. It is an all-boys catholic school with a great athletic tradition. One of the reasons I got hired was because I offered to start a lacrosse team this spring. The administration is very supportive, so I can’t wait to start the season. Saint Louis will be the fifth boys high school team in Hawaii. On Oahu the current teams are Punahou and the Honolulu Sharks. There are also two teams on the Big Island, Hawaii Preparatory Academy and Konawaena High School.
JV: How long have you worked as tournament director of the Hawaii Tournament?
JB: This past tournament was my fourth year working as tournament director. I had always helped as a volunteer, but never had the job of tournament director. I defaulted into the position because nobody from our club wanted to do it. It’s a big responsibility, because it is such an epic event, but I love it. I don’t do it all by myself, there is a group of awesome people who play vital roles in running our event. To play a part in helping so many great people in the lacrosse community have fun in Hawaii is a blessing. I hope anyone who wishes to make it to the tournament one day gets that opportunity.
JV: How did you get the nickname, Johnny Bomber?
JB: I used to teach with a woman who was also an Ithaca graduate, and our mascot is the Bombers. One day she stared calling me Johnny Bomber, and it just stuck. As a grown man it can be a little weird telling another adult, “my friends call me, Bomber.” But usually people don’t forget my name.