Coached By: Lou DiBlasi
At Half Hollow Hills East High School, James Metzger led his team in points and assists in both his junior and senior seasons. He was recognized as an All-American and won the Enners Award in 1977 as Suffolk County's best lacrosse player.
In high school, Metzger was a stud in all walks of athletics, also playing football and basketball, but he achieved the most on the lacrosse field. He set school records for points in a season and assists in a game, season and career. He was the only high school athlete selected to both the North-South All-Star football and lacrosse games as a senior. Metzger started every game in his 3 year varsity football career and led his team in scoring in '74, '75, '76 and rushing in '75 and '76. He scored 27 touchdowns, 170 points and rushed for over 2,000 yards. He was recruited to play football by Syracuse, Colgate and Cornell and recruited to play lacrosse by Virginia, Army, Navy, Cornell and Hofstra.
Metzger attended the Naval Academy Prep School after Hills East and led the lacrosse team in goals, assists and points. He was a starting running back for the Naval Academy football team, but suffered a severe shoulder injury which effectively ended his football career. Focusing solely on lacrosse, Metzger decided to come back to Long Island to attend Hofstra University in 1979 and 1980, where he again led the team in assists each of those seasons.
According to Hofstra's record book, Metzger scored 49 points in 10 games in 1980 - his sophomore season. His scoring average ranks 4th all time for single season points per game and a sophomore record that still stands today. His single season assist average of 2.8 ranks 8th all time. He scored 29 points in the team's last four victories and was selected as a Div 1 All-American.
Although Metzger put together some big numbers in high school and college he considered his athletic career a failure. He walked away from the Hofstra Lacrosse program after his sophomore season, and thereby did not fulfill his last 2 years of eligibility. The Ray Enners award winner was a gifted natural athlete whose off the field issues significantly impacted both his high school and college careers.
"The award has special meaning because I was not able to fulfill my potential in football and basketball in high school because I struggled to maintain my playing weight. I lost 25 pounds over the winter prior to my senior year in lacrosse.
For the first time in my high school athletic career I was physically fit." It paid off handsomely for Metzger. He made All-League, All-County, All-American, won the Enners Award and was Suffolk County's leading scorer with a 6.0 pts. per game scoring average.
"The Ray Enners Award meant the world to me. Ray Enners was a Half Hollow Hills alum and both Coach Lou DiBlasi and Coach Bill Martens adored Ray as a player and a person. Although Martens coached at Ward Melville during my junior and senior years he was the former head coach of Half Hollow Hills varsity lacrosse team and Ray Enners' coach."
Lou DiBlasi, Metzger's coach at Half Hollow Hills, said "Jim was the most talented player I had in 11 seasons at Hills - a great offensive player. I coached a number of HS All-Americans and Jim was the best of the best. He had a great attitude and did anything I asked of him. He is that way now. People don't change." Although DiBlasi said that Metzger almost won the Enners award unanimously, Metzger suggested that if he had a vote he would have chosen former Ward-Melville All-American defenseman Tom Rotanz.
"I won the award because my coach promoted me and I was a member of a competitive team. The other two all-county attackmen with whom I played, Jerome Merkerson and Charles Molinelli, had a lot to do with my winning the award. I'm still proud of our team's 10-2 League 1 record (both losses to Ward Melville)."
Vinny Sombrotto, a four time U.S. Team player and National Lacrosse Hall of Famer, and Metzger played together for Hofstra University in 1980. Sombrotto remembers, "Jim had as much skill as anyone I ever played with. He could have been successful at any level if he stayed with the game. He had great vision, great stick skills and he could play with either hand". Sombrotto continued, "Jim was really a football player first and was built like it. His ability to shift direction and get away from people was one of his greatest assets."
In recent years, Metzger has given back tremendously to the university. According to Seth Tierney, head coach for Hofstra University Men's Lacrosse Team, "Jim means the world to Hofstra's Lacrosse team. I first met him when I was the new coach here and one of the first things he asked me was "how can I help?" He has reconnected with the team in a unique way. The team is very thankful for his involvement."
Metzger donated the funds to build both the men's and women's locker rooms. He named the men's locker room after his former coach Harry Royle and former teammate the National Hall-of-Famer Vinnie Somrotto. Metzger also donated funds to build the Hallways Tradition Project which celebrates the history of the men's and women's lacrosse and football programs. He chose to name the project itself after his former high school football and lacrosse coach Lou DiBlasi and former Hofstra great Mike D'Amato. He also honored former teammate Gary Arnold, former coach and Hofstra legend Kevin Huff, and the Unterstein family - Chris, Kevin and Mike. "What is so powerful about Jim's way of supporting Hofstra Athletics is that he always involves others in his efforts." said Jack Hayes, Hofstra University Director of Athletics.
Hofstra recently named the lacrosse offices after Metzger and Huff.
Today Metzger is the chairman and CEO of the Whitmore Group Ltd., a leading insurance brokerage on Long Island with over 70 employees. Metzger founded the company in 1989. He serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, the Funeral Service Foundation, the Hofstra Pride Club and the Catholic Cemetery Guild. Jim's nephew Rob Pannell is now an All-American attackman for Cornell.
That this former gifted athlete has had his greatest successes off the field is okay with him - although sometimes, he say's "I laugh to myself about it."