US Lacrosse has named 11 winners of its 2018 Youth Awards, recognizing outstanding contributors to youth lacrosse from around the country. The winners were selected from among the nominations submitted for each award, and have been recognized with a presentation arranged by their local lacrosse organization. 

The awards and honorees are:

Boys’ Youth Coach of the Year (three winners)
This honor is given to an outstanding boys’ coach who embodies the characteristics of an ideal coach by supporting the US Lacrosse mission and vision, dedicating himself/herself to players and providing the best possible lacrosse experience for everyone involved.

Chris Santini – Sammamish, Washington
Heavily involved with the Eastlake boys program, Santini consistently emphasizes the team concept with all of his players. “Chris coaches that no one player is bigger than the team,” wrote one parent. “Through promoting teamwork, his vision is that we are building a lacrosse program for the long haul and that we are stronger as a team.”

Aime Caines – Lakeville, Minnesota
Caines is credited with helping to grow the game in Minnesota through his selfless commitment to youth players. One nominator wrote: “Aime is a compassionate, caring, respectful coach and leads by example. He has the ability to bring out the potential in his players. Aime instills confidence and leadership skills, helping to develop well rounded individuals on and off the field.”

Gene Carrigan – Peapak, New Jersey
A veteran youth coach who juggled three different teams last spring, Carrigan directly impacts over 60 kids in the Bernardsville program. One parent said; “He brings the team together on and off the field and always finds the best ways to coach the kids in all-inclusive ways. He always makes practices fun but educational.”

Excellence in Growing the Game (three winners)
Given to an individual who supports the US Lacrosse mission and vision, working effectively and tirelessly to develop lacrosse in a particular geographic area.

Rob Hart – Richland, Washington
Hart has served as a coach and administrator for many teams, clubs, and events since 2008, including Three Rivers Middle School, Richland Lacrosse Club, Columbia Crush, and the Ruckus at the Reactor High School Jamboree. One nominator wrote: “The lacrosse growth that Rob has contributed to in Eastern Washington is significant. I am not aware of any other person in the Tri-Cities who has contributed more years, hours and energy to the growth of lacrosse in this area.”

Ron Wright – Seattle, Washington
Wright has served since 2006 as managing director of the Queen Anne Lacrosse Club, while also taking on multiple other roles to support the growth of the game, including coaching, officiating, administration, and coordination of the state championship. One supporter stated: “I cannot imagine the total number of youth players he has affected but my guess would be in the many, many, many thousands. Everyone in the Seattle lacrosse community owes him a huge thank you.”

Travis Sipe – York, Pennsylvania
Awarded posthumously, Sipe was a catalyst for growth around York County. One nomination on his behalf stated: “Because of the unfortunate passing of Travis, a group of people refused to let the sport die too. Travis’ legacy helped York experience its biggest growth years, going from 40 kids in 2000 to 2,200 kids by 2008. As the sport continues to grow, Travis is still remembered.”

Founders Circle 
Alexis Goeller – Torrance, California

This award is given to someone who has founded a program, product, or idea that has staying power within the sport. This individual has a positive impact on the youth game and/or its constituents and thoroughly embraces the mission and vision of US Lacrosse. After serving as a youth and high school coach for many years, Goeller founded Trident Youth Lacrosse in 2014, with an emphasis on providing a positive learning environment for boys’ and girls’ in grades K-8. Goeller also serves as Trident’s director and as a coach.

Girls’ Youth Coach of the Year
Michael Rupolo – East Patchogue, New York
This honor is given to an outstanding youth girls’ coach who embodies the characteristics of an ideal coach by supporting the US Lacrosse mission and vision, dedicating himself/herself to the players and providing the best possible lacrosse experience for everyone involved. As a member of the Bellport Youth Lacrosse, Rupolo has coached both boys’ and girls’ teams. One player’s nomination letter had this comment: “Coach Rupolo has shown me a whole different side of lacrosse, and what a great lacrosse coach is like. He made me love lacrosse again. He makes sure that the coaches are focused on the love of lacrosse and not the win. When you focus on making the team love lacrosse, you will get the best out of every player and you don’t have to scream at any one.”

One for All (two winners)
This award is given to a young adult who has given unselfishly of his/her time and talent to help grow and build lacrosse awareness. He or she is typically a person who has volunteered time, while balancing a busy schedule, to mentor others and give back to the sport.

Baylee Mee – Reno, Nevada 
As a high school sophomore, Mee has spent countless hours educating younger players by organizing and hosting clinics. One nominator wrote: “Baylee spent over 100 hours preparing for and running this clinic. She not only got our entire lacrosse community involved, having high school coaches and players from all over Northern Nevada help, she also had coaches from the various youth programs participate. She laid out the program requirements for the event and guided the 30 plus volunteers as they worked with the girls.”

Emma Muchnick – Montebello, New York
Emma is a youth player who is the consummate teammate who embodies the spirit of the game. One nomination stated: “Emma values being part of a team and knows that success is achieved through teamwork.  She demonstrates this in every recreation game by having a personal goal to pass to every teammate. In one tournament, the coach asked Emma if she would go over and speak with the goalie, who was apparently having an emotional day. Without hesitation, Emma said, “absolutely coach, I got this, I’ll warm her up prior to the start of the next game.” She hustled over, gave her a pep-talk, lifted her spirits, warmed up with her, and the games continued.”

Program Administrator of the Year
Ted Chase – Trumbull, Connecticut 
This award is given to an outstanding administrator who runs a league or program of excellence that upholds the mission and vision of US Lacrosse. Chase has been a participating member of the board of Trumbell Youth Lacrosse for over a decade, and serving his fourth year as president. One letter stated: “Ted took our mom and pop organization to the next level by developing and implementing policies, procedures and bylaws that will lead to continued program success long after his departure. He has been presented with many serious challenges along the way, but Ted rose to the occasion and kept true to the philosophy of US Lacrosse.”

US Lacrosse will begin accepting applications for the 2019 Youth Awards in January. For more information, please visit