2019 Hall of Fame female inductees (l-r), Sarah Forbes, Cathy Reese, Rachael Becker DeDecco, Kara Ariza Cooke.

The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame formally welcomed four new women’s members Saturday evening at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Maryland during the 2019 induction ceremony, sponsored by RPS Bollinger Sports & Leisure and the Markel Insurance Company.

Kara Ariza Cooke, Rachael Becker DeCecco, and Sarah Forbes were inducted as ‘truly great players,” while Cathy Reese was inducted as a “truly great coach.” 

Cooke was a three-time All-American at the University of Virginia and helped lead Virginia to the ACC title as a senior in 1998. She earned All-ACC honors in both 1997 & 1998 and was selected to ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002. Cooke was a member of the 2001 and 2005 U.S. World Cup Teams, winning the gold medal in 2001 and the silver in 2005. As a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team Program from 1997-2006, she also played on the U.S. Touring Team against Australia in 2000. 

Cooke noted that she benefitted from having Hall of Fame coaches throughout her career who helped push her along in her development.

“They all encouraged me to just try. Try out for a team, even if you don’t feel that you might be ready for it,” she said. “See what you can learn from the opportunity so that the next time you’ll be more comfortable and confident. I didn’t make the World Cup team the first time I tried out, but the experience was invaluable. It was about learning from each experience in order to be more prepared for the future.”

Hall of Famer Kathleen Geiger was Cooke’s coach in high school and served as her presenter.

“Kara did whatever the team needed. She was very unselfish, but also very determined to be successful,” Geiger said. “She was always calm, but very intense and very aggressive, just like you’d want a defender to be. She was always running on an even keel, even at the U.S. level. She’s the coach’s dream because she gets done anything you need. There’s never an ego involved.”

DeCecco was a three-time, first team All-American defender at Princeton University and was recipient of the Tewaawaton Trophy in 2003 as the nation’s most outstanding player. She remains the only defender, male or female, to ever claim the Tewaaraton award. DeCecco helped Princeton win the NCAA championship in 2002 & 2003 and was named MVP of the NCAA Tournament in 2003. She was also the national defender of the year in both 2002 and 2003. 

“My junior year was kind of a Cinderella season. We lost our first game and then never lost again,” DeCecco said. “But my senior year was much more of a battle. We started off 0-3, and while the national championship was always the goal, we realized it was going to be an uphill battle. The struggle to repeat as champions made it that much more special.”

DeCecco was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team Program from 2003-2008 and played on the U.S. World Cup Team in 2005.

Hall of Famer Chris Sailer coached DeCecco at Princeton and served as her presenter.

“Rachael was a phenomenal defender. She was strong and powerful and fast on the field, and her positioning was just exceptional,” Sailor said. “One of the big things about Rachael was that she was so passionate. She was a great competitor, and she brought that every single day. Whether it was practice or a game, she came ready to play. She was such a leader for us at Princeton.”

A native of Australia, Forbes became a three-time All-American at the University of Maryland and a pioneer in creating the pipeline from Down Under to College Park. Forbes was the national offensive player of the year in 1997 as well as the ACC’s player of the year. She helped lead the Terps to three straight NCAA titles (1995-97) during her career, as well as the ACC championship in 1997. Forbes was named to the NCAA’s 25th Anniversary Team in 2006. 

Hall of Famer Cindy Timchal coached Forbes at Maryland and served as her presenter.

“Coming from Perth, Australia and making that kind of commitment was a true leap of faith,” Timchal said. “For Sarah to have paved the way for other Australians to the United States and looking to women’s lacrosse programs as viable options for higher education, she was a true pioneer.”

As an international player, Forbes was a member of the Australian World Cup Team four times and helped the Aussies capture the gold medal in 2005. She earned All-World honors in both 2005 and 2009 and was named tournament MVP in 2005 while serving as Australian team captain.

“Lacrosse has brought so many friends, mentors, memories and experiences from all over the world, and given my life purpose and meaning,” said a tearful Forbes, who traveled from Australia for Saturday’s induction ceremony. “It’s taught me determination, resiliency, understanding, and compassion, and made me a better teacher, parent, partner and coach. It’s endless, what lacrosse has brought to my life.”

Reese is a four-time winner of the IWLCA’s national coach of the year award and a 12-time conference coach of the year who has led the University of Maryland to five national championships in her 13 seasons in College Park. She ranks as the Terps’ all-time winningest coach, with a 270-22 record at Maryland, and has a career record of 301-51 in 16 overall seasons as a head coach. Through 2019, she has produced eight Tewaaraton Trophy winners, 22 National Players of the Year and 64 All-Americans. 

“I love the athletes that I have a chance to work with,” Reese said. “Coaching is about relationships. To share the sport and to be able to help them grow during their college careers is something that’s really special. The best part of coaching is working with a team of players who are out there striving for something that’s bigger than themselves.”

Hall of Famer Jen Adams, who played and coached with Reese, served as her presenter.

“Cathy’s one of the toughest competitors that I’ve ever encountered,” Adams said. “She wants to win and she loves to win, but at the same time, she does it in such a great spirit and fashion. She always does it in the right way. That’s the important thing. She’s tough and gets the most out of her players, but also, she’s incredibly kind and really cares about her players. Cathy makes it all look effortless.”

The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a program of US Lacrosse, was established in 1957 to honor men and women who by their deeds as players, coaches, officials and contributors, and by the example of their lives, personify the great contribution of lacrosse to our way of life. Nearly 450 lacrosse greats are honored in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame & Museum, located at US Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland.