Class of 2012

CSU Lacrosse Hall of Fame


Charlie Cottingham excelled at one on one defending. On the field his imposing size matched up perfectly with his booming voice and on field leadership. Charlie also had great stick skills with the long pole, and his agility allowed him to become at times a One-Man Clearing force.

As a Colorado lacrosse product, Charlie played two years in the early days of the Overland HS (Denver, CO) Lacrosse program, making the 1983 Colorado HS all-state team his senior year. Charlie was a Ram for 4 years here at CSU and was recognized as a member of the RMLA all league team in 1987.

His very successful college career was followed by many years of high-level club ball. Guys and coaches wanted Charlie to be on their team. The club experience included many years with the Shot, a club team based in Denver that was a Colorado club powerhouse through the 80’s and early 90’s.

He also played some lacrosse in Northern California with Capital Lacrosse Club, and where he was chosen defensive MVP of that NCLA Club league. His career led him to San Antonio and he played several years in Texas when it was Earl Bill Territory and the clubs down there were in high gear. The Vail Lacrosse Shootout was a frequent high level lacrosse tournament stop for Charlie, playing there for both Team Colorado and for Team Texas over the years. In the latter part of his very distinguished career he played annually in the Vail Masters for Team Colorado, and played well into the 1990’s in that division.

His impressive list of associations with really good teams is not just by accident. Charlie Cottingham made teams around him better by the way he played and led, and these are sure signs of greatness. Welcome to the class of 2012 of the Colorado State University Lacrosse Hall of Fame.


Matt Smith – 1996-2001 – LSM/Assistant Coach/CSULAA President
As a kid, Matt Smith had mad love for football, but he also had his first and fondly remembered STX Excaliber lacrosse stick by the time he was in 4th grade. When eighth grade landed him at the Kent School in Denver he continued the pursuit of a football career, but in spring his hunger for sport and competition along with the fact that there was no track team at Kent Denver steered Matt to where his best friends were, and that was playing lacrosse on the lacrosse team, and that is where Matt Smith’s true passion for the game began to blossom.

Matt lettered 4 years and made All-State in football at Kent as part of a team and program that won a state championship his Junior year. Meanwhile he was honing the lacrosse skills as a Defenseman, and those remarkable stick skills included the delivering of hard and accurate checks to anyone who dared to carry the ball near him. He had the athletic instincts and game talents that allowed him to dominate play. He played lacrosse at Kent during a time when they were winning the state championship almost every year during the nineties. He was named to the All-State lacrosse Team as a Defenseman.

What Matt thought would become a D3 college football career turned into two years at Division III lacrosse powerhouse Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he played lacrosse at a very high level once again.

The lure of returning home to Colorado was strong, and in 1996 Matt transferred to CSU and he found his ‘family’ at CSU lacrosse. He was mostly a defenseman at CSU, but he also got to play a little of his (secret) favorite lacrosse position, the Long Stick Middie where he could flash his speed. Smitty still plays with many CSU lax alums in a Denver lacrosse league. Matt assisted at CSU from 1999-2001, when the team won two National Championships and played in three straight National Championship Finals before moving fully to the Denver area with his career as a “Landman”.

As its Vice President for many years Matt was a huge part and loud voice in building the foundation for and guiding the Alumni Association (CSULLA) from its inception in the late nineties until 2012. He helped start the tradition that is the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field Mile High, the CSU vs. CU game played every April. Matt wishes he could have been here and sends love and thanks to the Family that he helped create.


ROB PERELLA – 1989-1993 – Defense/Head Coach

Rob has a very impressive lacrosse resume as a classic Close Defenseman, and his stick skills and athleticism gave him the versatility on the lacrosse field to play some Long Stick Middie over the years as well.

Rob was a high school star at Brien Mcmahon HS in Norwalk, Connecticut, earning All-State honors in 1983. He went on to play for HOF Lax coach Dick Garber at UMASS Amherst.

In 1989 Rob transferred to Colorado State where he played on some great teams and alongside fellow CSU Lacrosse Hall of Famers J.D. Doyle and Frank Smith.

After finishing his playing days at CSU, Rob stayed in Fort Collins and guided CSU to two winning seasons as the Head Lacrosse Coach in 1992 and 1993. His work eventually settled him in Denver. He coached at Thunderridge High School in Littleton for 2 years. Rob has played lacrosse in Denver area Club Leagues since 1994. He currently plays in Masters and Supermasters leagues. Rob was named to the Vail Shootout Masters Division All-Tournament team just this past summer of 2011.

Rob currently lives in Highlands Ranch. He owns and operates Perella’s East Coast Pizzeria in Roxborough. He has been happily married to his wife Kelly for 16 years, and he coaches a team that includes his 9 year-old twins Matthew and Christopher, who have already played organized lacrosse for three years!

Rob was one of the founding members of the CSU Lacrosse Alumni Association that has been instrumental to the inception of the Rocky Mountain Showdown and the CSU Lacrosse endowment fund. The Showdown is the CSU vs CU game that is a fundraiser for both programs, and is played annually at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.


KALE NELSON – 2000-2009 – Midfield/Assistant Coach

The fact that Kalewas elected team captain 3 straight years at CSU says everything about his enormous playing and leadership abilities. As a star player he manned many different positions for the Rams, and he took on multiple rolls to help his team become whatever it needed to be on any given day. As an individual he has the gift of being able to make players around him better, and Kale was recognized nationally for his individual excellence as a collegian when he was selected to the MDIA All America team in 2002. He was also chosen as an RMILL all-star in 2001 and 2002.

From 2004-2009 he was an assistant coach at CSU and used his multiple skills to help the program build many successful seasons. He was a part of 3 CSU National Championships as player and coach, and was associated with 6 different CSU teams that played in the finals of the National Championship tournament over the span of just seven years.

Kale really began coaching lacrosse while he was playing at CSU, helping out at camps and clinics all over the Rocky Mountain Region, and he was a huge part of the development of the CSU summer lacrosse camp, now called Ram Camp, that has been so great and is so integral to the vitality of the lacrosse program. He was a great individual motivator, and always knew how to take a player aside and give him the one on one coaching that sometimes can be overlooked. As a coach, he is a leader, a mentor and a catalyst for player development.

Kale bleeds green. He came to State from Rangeview HS (Aurora, CO), and has always gone back and encouraged other Rangeview laxers to follow his footsteps to CSU. Many have. Kale still balls quite a bit, too whenever he can still fit a game or a tournament in his growing family and professional picture.

For all that he brought to Colorado State Lacrosse, we are thrilled to recognize for all to see that we are in the presence of greatness and we salute Kale Erick Robert Nelson as a member of the Colorado State University Lacrosse Hall of Fame, class of 2012.