More than 75 years ago, Ainsley used it when he played on what is believed to be one of the first University of Virginia men’s lacrosse club teams to be assembled following World War II. (The first UVA varsity lacrosse team began competing in 1904.)
“I remember practicing daily,” said Ainsley, who attended UVA from 1945 to 1948. “It was kind of a rag-tag operation, but it was fun.”
Fun would also be a great way to describe the atmosphere this Memorial Day when the 93-year-old Ainsley watched the UVA lacrosse team defeat Maryland, 17-16, to win its second straight NCAA championship and seventh in program history.
Ainsley watched the game on television from his home in Millbrook, New York, and could barely contain his excitement as the final seconds ticked down.
“He was just blown away,” said his son, Steve Ainsley, himself a former UVA student. “He was just so excited. It was a thrilling game even if you weren’t a UVA fan.
“He was just beside himself, so very excited. He’s still talking and going on about it. It was the highlight of his year.”
Bryson Ainsley, a native of Jersey City, New Jersey, arrived at UVA as a 16-year-old first-year student in January 1945.
“I’ve often said that going from Jersey City to Charlottesville was like going from hell to heaven,” Ainsley said. “Jersey City was a mess back then. I really fell in love with Charlottesville – mostly the Grounds. I thought that was great.”
Ainsley lived in Theta Delta Chi fraternity before moving into 25 West Range, which he called a neat experience, “except for taking showers in February.”
Ainsley studied forestry for a year, with the courses taking place in a building across from The Virginian restaurant on the Corner – which Ainsley remembers as a popular hangout at all hours.