Unsung Hero Awards
The Yeardley Reynolds Love (“YRL”) Unsung Hero Award recognizes the accomplishments of student-athletes who help their teams achieve success in ways that may not be measured in goals, saves or ground balls. This honor places value on kindness and generosity, characteristics that are often undervalued in the competitively charged environment of college lacrosse.
Congratulations to our 2022 Unsung Heroes!
Gilmathan Del Valle
University of Massachusetts BostonGil 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 UniversityAbigail 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.
Walsh UniversityGrace 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.
Jacksonville UniversityJeremy 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.
Hofstra UniversityCara 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."
The Award recognizes the athlete who makes a significant contribution to the team while also bringing joy to teammates. The award recipients exhibit leadership as a positive role model and are involved in community service. The recipients are awarded a sum of money from the One Love Foundation to be given to their favorite charity.
2021 Unsung Heroes
Syracuse University, GraduateSyracuse graduate student Lila Nazarian (Baltimore, Md.) has helped the Orange to a No. 3 national ranking this year, but her mark on the program goes far beyond her on-field successes. A leader on Syracuse’s campus and within the greater community, Nazarian played a key role in creating a field day for the Syracuse area Boys and Girls Club in addition to collecting thousands of toiletries for a drive, in partnership with Enactus. As a board member for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Nazarian was elected by her peers to lead the group’s civic engagement and created a leadership development workshop for 100 freshman student-athletes. After sustaining an ACL tear her freshman year, Nazarian battled her way back to earn a starting position for the No. 1-ranked defense nationally in 2020; but her impact as a supportive teammate and leader is perhaps where her influence has been felt most. An avid supporter of the One Love Foundation and its mission, social justice reforms, and more—Lila has led the Syracuse women’s lacrosse team through discussions and exercises to bring awareness to countless issues. Head Coach Gary Gait said, “We’re so proud of Lila. She’s done so much for our team, the Athletics Department, Syracuse University and the community. We know she’s going to continue to make an impact on the world and we’re happy that she’s part of the Orange family.”
Harvard University, GraduateHailing from Downington, PA and Malvern Prep, Kyle Anderson is an attackman from Harvard University who served as the only three-time captain in Harvard’s 140-year history of men’s lacrosse. He is a consummate leader on and off the field. Despite overcoming multiple cancer episodes and treatments, multiple knee surgeries & ACLs, he remained one of the most consistent scorers in Harvard history. But it is off the field where his legacy was cemented. His tireless efforts with Harlem Lacrosse alongside our partners and student-athletes at The McKay School, Yards for Yeardley and TEAM IMPACT inspired our program to even higher levels of service engagement. Kyle’s story, combined with his optimistic outlook and can-do mindset, energized the Harvard program to see that they too can overcome injuries and hardships and persevere as athletes. He further inspired their team to know that everyone can “do something” to positively impact someone else to make their day, life and outlook brighter. According to Coach Byrne, “Kyle encompasses everything you want in a son, teammate, player, leader, and citizen. He sees others and helps, invests time, listens, gives the best part of himself and sees others who are struggling and asks how can I help? His selflessness is boundless and his time at Harvard will be remembered for many goals and great plays but his true impact will be in how he quietly served his communities, modeled perfectly what true commitment to a team and to others looks like and how you do not let obstacles or life’s challenges derail your path forward.”
Saint Leo University, Jr.Marisa Souchak is a junior defender at Saint Leo University. She is a two-year captain who leads by example and hopes to pursue a career in education. Coach Caitlin Hansen says Marisa, “represents our program well and does so with humility.” When faced with COVID restrictions and limitations this year, Marisa organized a virtual town hall for her community, encouraging all to act responsibly and help each other and their school community. Hansen noted, “Marisa is without question our team’s unsung hero and leader. She is about to enter her third year as a captain, and all of her teammates will agree that Marisa has helped lay the groundwork for our on- and off-field successes since the day she arrived at Saint Leo. She keeps us all accountable and is an amazing player, student and person. I am so proud of Marisa and grateful that the One Love YRL Committee has chosen to recognize her this year.”
Lynn University, Sr.Lauded for his kindness and humility, Lynn University’s Ben Jackson is a special teammate who brings positivity and optimism to every facet of campus. A One Love facilitator as a freshman and sophomore, Jackson also served three years as a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) team rep and leader, while also leading an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) fundraiser in Fall 2020 to raise over $2,000. In 2020, Ben also helped launch The REAL Project (in memory of his friend, Ethan LoCigno) to perform acts of kindness and spread mental health awareness. A true ‘unsung hero’ on his Lynn University team, Jackson began his career as a role player—constantly pushing and challenging his teammates in practice to ready them for gameday. Over the course of his career, Jackson remained dedicated to elevating his level of play to help his team in every and any way that he could. “He is that senior who steps up leading with a strong heart and selfless attitude,” his coach, Brian Kingsbury, wrote in his YRL Unsung Hero nomination. This spring, Jackson recorded his first career goal at the collegiate level. Kingsley continued, “Ben is one of the kindest men I have ever coached. He is the definition of what an unsung hero is, as he has the courage to do the right thing. Ben operates on the core values of Spirit, Service, Strength at Lynn University as he has been able to share his humility, empathy, and honesty with the Fighting Knights community.”
Colby College, Sr.Amelia Lubrano, a senior midfielder at Colby College, has made quite an impact on her community both on and off the lacrosse field. The youngest of three girls, Amelia took what she learned from her older sisters and translated that “sisterhood” by showing up for her teammates with kindness, positivity and support every single day. Additionally, she faced the hardships of COVID-19 head on by organizing a virtual road race called #Sweat2Support and raised nearly $28,000 for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Relief Fund. Her coach describes her by saying, "Amelia is not the loudest player on the field, nor is she the biggest, but what she lacks in size she makes up for with heart.”
Christopher Newport University, Sr.Thomas Brackett, a senior goalie at Christopher Newport University, is described by Coach Mikey Thompson as “the most important person on our team, even as a non-starter.” His selflessness is shown through his membership in the ROTC program at CNU and his commitment to serve in the United States Army as an officer after graduation. He lives by three principles: hard work, honesty, and positivity, both on and off the lacrosse field. Thomas is very involved as an active member of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and is a major advocate for mental health awareness. Whether it’s for his team, community or country, Thomas puts the needs of others first and his attitude is contagious to all those lucky enough to be around him. Thompson said, “Thomas graduated from CNU and our men’s lacrosse team as one of our all-time great teammates. He holds his teammates to the highest standard and always does it in a positive way. His energy is infectious and he is an absolute joy to be around, just as Yeardley was. Just last week he was honored at the CNU ROTC Commissioning Ceremony and he is off to do huge things!”
2020 Unsung Heroes
Washington and Lee University, '22A sophomore attacker from Kentucky, Spencer Kriss is a man with three main passions: he loves lacrosse and his teammates, he loves his studies and his professors, and he loves pursuing his meaningful research at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. He works on a research project demonstrating statistically significant evidence that infant skull fractures caused by domestic child abuse are measurably different when compared to infant skull fractures of a more accidental nature, and this data and applicable science could help in the fight against domestic child abuse. Although this work is challenging academically and emotionally, he is committed to its purpose and is driven to make a difference. His dream job is to be a pediatric radiologist because he loves working with kids. An unsung hero to his teammates, he doesn’t expect recognition but “brings his best” every day in practice and is working to support all of his teammates since their season was cancelled. As his coach so wonderfully states, Spencer "possesses a unique blend of empathy, kindness, intellect, and athletic talent.” There is no doubt that he will continue to have a positive impact on many people’s lives.
Rhodes College, '20A New Jersey native, Clark landed in Memphis, Tennessee, with the hopes of walking onto the women’s lacrosse program in the Fall of 2016. Immediately impressing with her relentless work-ethic and positive energy, Clark earned herself a spot on a team that she would come to play a key leadership role on for seasons to come. The “team mom,” according to Rhodes’ Meghan Keelan, Clark possesses a unique, compassionate ability to understand “the exact moment you truly need someone to ask how you’re doing and honestly care about your response.” Prior to her senior season, Clark, who had been voted team captain and praised as the “ultimate team player” and a “friend to all,” had finally worked her way into a starting position. When the NCAA season was canceled amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Clark was devastated; but decided to turn her sadness into action. As a Senior Fellow in the Office of Administration, she started to video chat with prospective student-athletes, shedding light on her love for all things Rhodes College.
Chestnut Hill College, '20A reserve goalkeeper, “Hoagie” is a leader amongst his peers—both on and off the field. The senior has served as an Orientation Leader since May 2018, teaching incoming students about Chestnut Hill College and all it has to offer. A Concussion Peer Educator, Hogan assisted in raising awareness among his fellow student-athletes about concussions, their symptoms, as well as informing his peers of the correct way to diagnose and report them. Actively involved in his faith, Hogan also served as a Youth Ministry instructor at Covenant Church—teaching young children and teens about the gospel in addition to helping lead weekly youth group meetings and coordinating a mission trip to Philadelphia. The ultimate “fun, welcoming, and caring,” teammate, per his coach, Michael Terranova, Hogan has always embraced his role on the team, maintaining an enthusiastic and supportive reserve role in net, while continuing to challenge himself and those around him.
Florida Southern, '21A junior defender who originally hails from Baltimore, Maryland, Abby Hammond embraces her role on the team, which is to not be in the spotlight, but to help out behind the scenes, mentor the underclassmen, lead with hard work, and be deliberate about creating a positive team culture. An animal lover and a biology major, Abby wants to be a conservation biologist or work at a zoo. Off the field, Abby leads the team’s monthly pizza parties for Shine On, where they play sports, do arts and crafts, sing Karaoke and enjoy time with special needs adults. She also helps with the annual Night to Shine, celebrating a prom party for the special needs group. Coach Kara Reber adds, "Abby is the essence of a team player and no doubt the unsung hero of our team. She is happy for any opportunity to get on the field and extremely happy for her teammates when they achieved milestones, accomplishments, or accolades.”
University of Virginia, '21Jackson Appelt, a rising fourth year on the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team, has made a lasting impact on his campus since first stepping foot in Charlottesville. The New Canaan, Connecticut, native is an Echols Scholar and Council Member of Student-Athlete Mentor (SAM)—the primary substance abuse program within UVa’s Athletic Department—and has played an integral role in redefining the program, most notably introducing the “Campfire Series,” a weekly opportunity for student-athletes to “speak through their issues in an open, honest, and vulnerable environment with peers who understand similar pressures.” In Fall 2019, Appelt was at the forefront of the men’s lacrosse program’s Will Barrow (’08) Memorial Flag Football Tournament—the campus’ largest fundraiser for the University of Virginia Suicide Hotline—and championed a $25,000 effort to establish the first-ever Will Barrow-Harlem Lacrosse Scholarships. In Fall 2020, Appelt is set to teach the “Together, We are Built to Last” course through the UVa CavEd program—bringing students together to explore personal growth and self-worth through passion and vulnerability amongst peers. Upon returning to campus, Appelt will also have the honor of living on the Lawn—an honor bestowed upon exemplary students to live in one of the 54 dormitories in Thomas Jefferson’s original academical village.
James Madison University, '20A senior from Great Falls, VA, Halle Duenkel exudes passion and enthusiasm in all of her pursuits. Halle earned a lot of playing time in her first few years at JMU, helping her 2018 team win the NCAA National Championship. Midway through her junior campaign, she sustained a season-ending hip injury, and as a senior, she found the courage to lead her team to be “the best version of themselves” while also spearheading the team’s community service initiatives, inspiring them to increase their hours of community service 10x to over 1100 hours. She is quick to acknowledge that her successes have been a team effort, but it is Halle, who as coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe said, “lights up a room with her big ideas and can-do energy, and thrives on the opportunity to make a difference—be it advancing an idea, raising awareness, driving positive change, building a network, cultivating teamwork, improving a situation or circumstance, or simply, letting someone else know that they too have the power within to be a difference maker in someone’s life.” Halle is a stand-out student-athlete and will be pursuing a career in cyber-security.
2019 Unsung Heroes
Pitzer College, '20Sonia Olson, a junior on the Pomona-Pitzer lacrosse team, exemplifies selflessness on and off the field. Sonia has brought college education to women in prison and helped survivors of sex trafficking, all while being a constant source of positive leadership for her team. Midway through this spring season, Sonia was diagnosed with cancer. She credits her strength through this process with her many years of lacrosse. Today, she is supporting her team from afar while going through chemotherapy and, according to her coach, she is telling her teammates to play harder, honor the game, and reminding them that they should feel lucky to still be able to play the sport of lacrosse.
Lasell College, '19During Lasell’s best season yet, coaches remarked how integral David Sheehan’s leadership has been as he “elevated every member of the team, coaching staff included, to a place they never thought they could go.” His efforts, while not always showcased on the stat sheet, inspire each player to give their all. Off the field, he has led the team in their efforts to help raise awareness, educate and train Lasell students on relationship violence prevention tactics including the One Love Foundation.
University of Tampa, '19Bryan Karn of Tampa has shown incredible commitment to leadership and service within both the northeastern Ohio and Tampa communities. After his friend was diagnosed with leukemia in 8th grade, he started raising money for leukemia awareness. He continued this service work by hosting fundraisers for cancer research once he started at the University of Tampa. As a senior goalie who rarely starts, Bryan has taken younger goalies under his wing and, according to his coach, “he is like having a coach in the locker room.“ He has led his team to 3 NCAA tournament appearances and his team-first approach is noted by everyone around him.
Le Moyne College, '19While Katie Kerner’s impact on the field has been marred by seasons of injuries, culminating in a career-ending ACL surgery last fall, her legacy will be marked by her resilient nature and leadership. Kerner became the lacrosse program’s inaugural Community Service Chair, utilizing their platform to raise awareness for a variety of causes over the 2018-2019 season. She’s set the example for younger players that while the uncertainty that comes with being injured is scary, there are other roles on the team that are just as impactful.
Yale University, '21Sophomore Brian Tevlin of Yale demonstrated incredible selflessness when, five games into his sophomore season, he received word that he was a match for the Be The Match Foundation, a bone marrow donation registry. Inspired by the story of his friend’s mother, who was saved by a million-to-one donor, he accepted the match and scheduled surgery two weeks later. His decision to ensure another family wouldn’t suffer, in the middle of the season as a starting midfielder on the defending national championship team, is the definition of unsung. Brian has shown himself to be a promising leader as just a sophomore.
University of Pennsylvania, '19After sustaining her fourth concussion her sophomore year, senior Julia O’Mara made the tough decision to medically retire from competitive lacrosse, however, she couldn’t leave her team behind. With her drive to help her teammates however she could, she carved out a new role: organizing additional runs and workouts to help those who were struggling to pass Penn lacrosse’s grueling run tests. Beyond the field, O’Mara has dedicated her limited free time – she is an Engineering student – to mentoring girls from a local West Philadelphia public school in both lacrosse and academic programs. A Maryland native, O’Mara will be working in the Business Technology field for Blackstone in their Innovations group.
2018 Unsung Heroes
Florida Southern College, '18
University of Mary Washington, '18
Hope College, '18
Chestnut Hill College, '18
Georgetown University, '18
Lafayette College, '18