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Dave Huntley helped revive the sport of lacrosse in Canada and was a member of a Canadian world championship team.

Claus Andersen/Getty Images/2013

Dave Huntley played, coached, managed, taught, analyzed, promoted and otherwise proselytized for lacrosse, serving as an ambassador for the sport in two countries.

He won collegiate championships in the United States and played a key role in helping an underdog Canadian squad score a stunning, come-from-behind overtime victory to claim the world field lacrosse championship in 1978.

Mr. Huntley died suddenly of a heart attack on Dec. 18 at Boynton, Fla., where he collapsed after conducting a box lacrosse clinic on an outdoor roller-hockey rink. He was 61.

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Mr. Huntley helped revive the traditional field game in his homeland.

In the late 19th century, lacrosse was the king of sports in Canada, as thousands gathered around fields to watch matches, including those for a silver championship cup donated by Lord Minto, the governor-general. The sport's popularity waned in the next century until an indoor version of the sport – box lacrosse, or boxla – became popular during the Depression and the dominant variety in hockey-mad Canada. Field lacrosse remained popular on certain campuses in the Eastern United States.

Mr. Huntley was a figure who bridged both field and floor versions in both lands. Though he grew up playing box lacrosse in a Toronto suburb, he became a star field lacrosse player in university in Maryland, as well as playing for the Canadian national team. He coached both box and field teams, and conducted clinics to spread the game in places where it was not yet known.

Though he was years from retirement, Mr. Huntley already had been inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in New Westminster, B.C., as well as the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in Sparks, Md. Both inductions happened six years ago.

At the time of his death, Mr. Huntley was employed as head coach of the Atlanta Blaze of Major League Lacrosse, a nine-team, semi-professional field lacrosse league. A resident of Towson, Md., he was also offensive co-ordinator for a local high school's lacrosse program.

In October, Mr. Huntley resigned as director of the Canadian men's field lacrosse program, part of a series of resignations and threats from players and management of national teams since the Canadian Lacrosse Association lost charitable status in 2010.

A tough-nosed, 6-foot, 185-pound midfielder as a player, Mr. Huntley became more heavyset in middle age. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the sport and was known among players for his inspiring locker-room speeches, as well as for honest, unfiltered broadcast.

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David William Huntley was born in Toronto on July 29, 1956, to Barbara and Frank Huntley. He took up lacrosse at age six, spending his entire minor and junior career playing box lacrosse with the Rexdale Warriors in suburban Toronto. In the summer he turned 20, he scored 42 goals with 33 assists in 21 games for the junior-A Warriors of the Ontario Lacrosse Association.

After graduating from Silverthorn Collegiate Institute, he attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He had caught the attention of coaches when the university came north to play an exhibition game in Toronto. In lieu of a sports scholarship, which the school did not offer, Mr. Huntley covered tuition through grants.

He was soon captain of the Blue Jays field lacrosse team at a time when the university's home games at Homewood Field sometimes outdrew those of baseball's Baltimore Orioles. Mr. Huntley led the lacrosse team to National Collegiate Athletic Association championships in 1978 and 1979. The midfielder was a three-time All-American (twice on the first team and once on the second). In his senior year, he won the McLaughlin Award as the outstanding collegiate midfielder in the United States.

He was still an undergraduate when he joined Canada's national field lacrosse team for the world championships at Stockport, England, near Manchester, in 1978. The favoured Americans trounced Canada by 29-4 in round-robin play.

After Canada beat Australia, 16-13, they faced the formidable Americans for the title in poor conditions at Edgely Park. The United States must have felt certain to win a third consecutive championship when leading by two goals with two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but Canada rallied to tie the match, 16-16. With only seconds left in overtime, Stan Cockerton then scored to give Canada a dramatic championship victory. Mr. Huntley's solid play at midfield was credited with keeping Canada in the match. He also played in the 1982 world championships at Baltimore.

Mr. Huntley was a coach with the national team for five other field lacrosse world champions, including a second title for Canada as head coach in 2006 at London, Ont.

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He launched his indoor coaching career with the Philadelphia Wings of the professional National Lacrosse League, a circuit in which he also had coaching jobs with such teams as the Baltimore Thunder (later, Pittsburgh CrosseFire), Washington Power and Colorado Mammoth.

He served as head coach of the expansion Toronto Nationals outdoor team in 2009, guiding the Major League Lacrosse club to a championship in its inaugural season. With a minute to go in the final game and the score tied, Mr. Huntley called a timeout to sketch out a play which would lead to the game-winning goal. He stayed with the franchise when it became the Hamilton Nationals in 2011, quitting after a dismal 2012 campaign. He later worked as an assistant coach with the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Annapolis, Md.

Mr. Huntley leaves his wife, the former Nancy Popovec, as well as a son, Kevin Huntley, of Washington, D.C., himself a hall-of-fame lacrosse player with Johns Hopkins, and a daughter, Michelle Santangelo, an engineer in Houston, Tex. He is also survived by a brother, Brian Huntley, and a sister, Carole Huntley.

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