Gilmathan Del Valle
University of Massachusetts Boston
Gil Del Valle, a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is a selfless teammate determined to give back to his community. A native of Chelsea, MA, Gil came to the lacrosse world through Harlem Lacrosse and works full-time to help fund his education. Adjusting to full-time school, work, and lacrosse was tough, and Gil initially took a season away from lacrosse to focus on academics. He came back to the team more inspired than ever to be the best teammate, student, and community leader possible. Gil also finds the time to serve as Game Director for the non-profit AWANA and as a resident assistant on campus. He founded a Student-Athletes of Color Coalition at UMass Boston that has now expanded to the entire Little East Conference. Gil’s goal is to become a first-grade teacher back in his hometown of Chelsea to give back to his community through education.
St. Lawrence University
Abigail Eberle, a senior at St. Lawrence University, exemplifies leadership both on and off the field. A team captain and ROTC Commander, Abby’s leadership skills are unmatched. Though she was unable to play with the team during preseason due to injury, she spent an additional two hours per day in the training room to ensure she could show up at practice and be the leader her teammates needed her to be, whether on the field or not. According to her coach Chelsea Martin, “Abby has a way of making all feel welcomed, valued, and cared for.” In another act of selfless leadership, Abby will be joining the Air Force as a Space Operations Officer after graduation.
Grace Heighway, a senior at Walsh University, has overcome adversity after adversity over the last three years. After experiencing a fractured back and two back-to-back ACL tears, Grace embraced a new role on the team and, according to coach Erin Smith, became “the ultimate student-athlete off the field.” Grace also started the Pre-Occupational Therapy club at Walsh and has volunteered for at least eight different organizations while in school, from animal shelters to toy drives and medical centers. Grace’s perseverance, positive attitude, and commitment to her community is inspiring to everyone she meets. She will pursue Occupational Therapy post-graduation.
Jeremy is a team captain and strong player for his Jacksonville team. He is a quiet leader who takes Coach Galloway’s advice to heart “to always be genuine and don’t do anything beneath yourself.” As a senior leader, he has challenged himself to always ‘do more’ and ‘bring others with him.’ He values his teammates so much as they have helped him through struggles, and he always works to be kind to others.
“Jeremy Winston sits in a class of his own. I am a better coach, husband, and person because of my last four years with Jeremy leading our program. I trust Jeremy with this program because he is always focused on the rest,” said Coach John Galloway.
Cara is an inspiration in that she has persevered through a torn ACL in high school and another surgery in college to repair it. After her mother’s death from breast cancer, Cara started a foundation in her honor to "spread kindness." The Suzanne M. Scanio Foundation hosts events to raise funds for breast cancer research and to assist families facing hardship or grief. She is also involved in Morgan’s Message to raise awareness about athletes’ mental health and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as her faith has helped her through hardship. As Cara says, "I have become more thoughtful, compassionate, and open minded since my mom died. Be kind to everyone. You have no idea what others are dealing with." She wants to become an oncology nurse and is sure to change the world!
"Kindness and generosity signify exactly who Cara is," said Cara’s Coach, Shannon Smith. "Cara has survived and persevered with so much grace, positivity, and gratitude. She is truly an inspiration to our team, coaching staff, and athletic department."