Sue Sofarnos – Vale

On the morning of Saturday, 19 September 2020, Australian lacrosse was devastated to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of Australian Women’s Lacrosse Team General Manager, Sue Sofarnos.

Sue Sofarnos

Sue Sofarnos was the very embodiment of everything it is to be an Australian lacrosse player. To describe Sue as a legend, simply wouldn’t be doing her justice. Sue’s contribution not only on the field, but off of it as well, was unparalleled in Australian lacrosse. Put simply, Australian lacrosse had never seen anybody like Sue before, and we doubt that Australian lacrosse will ever see someone like Sue again.

A product of the Newport Ladies Lacrosse Club in Lacrosse Victoria, Sue’s resume is as credentialed and extensive as any in World Lacrosse let alone in Australia.

As a player, Sue is one of Australia’s most accomplished and successful international players competing in an incredible 5 World Cups from 1982 – 1997 (having first played for Australia in 1979), earning World Team recognition in 1982 before winning the World Championship in 1986. Sue would also captain Australia in three consecutive World Cups in 1989, 1993 and 1997. For Victoria, Sue was an absolute staple representing Victoria from 1971 to 1999 – an unbelievable span of 28 years – winning countless individual accolades along the way along with 3 National Championships. It was at Newport though were she perhaps made her biggest impact. Sue was the leading light for Newport, leading the ‘Porters into a golden age which continues to this very day, with Sue winning an incredible 12 State League Premierships as a player from 1977 to 1997 winning flags more often than not along the journey.

Upon retiring from elite lacrosse, Sue turned her attention to coaching and administration, with Sue’s coaching resume particularly impressive. That included stints with the Australian Women’s team in various capacities including Head Coach at the 2009 World Cup, Assistant Coach in 2005 when Australia claimed their second world title, as well as being Head Coach again from 2015 – 2016. Add to that team analyst in 2017 and more recently Sue was the General Manager for the 2021 program. Sue was also the Coach of the World Team in 2011 as part of a 3 test series which was held in England.

After a glittering playing career for Victoria, Sue’s work as a coach continued for Victoria, leading and sustaining a culture within Victoria Women’s lacrosse that has spurred a sustained period of success which saw Sue and her teams claiming National Championships in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019. At Newport, Sue added to her 12 titles as a player, claiming another 7 titles as coach to go along with her 2 that were earned as a player coach in 1994 and 1999.

Sue’s contribution to Australian lacrosse was recognised earlier this year on the Australia Day 2020 Honours List, being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to Lacrosse. This well deserved accolade was in addition to being named an Australian Women’s Lacrosse Living Legend in 1999 as well as having won the Australian Sports Commission services to Women’s Lacrosse award in 2000, the Victorian Government Community Coach Award in 2014 and the Lacrosse Victoria Neil Rawlins Award in 2019. Sue was also a Commonwealth Games Baton Bearer in 2019.

Awards and accolades aside, what made Sue so special was her unwavering dedication and passion towards Australian lacrosse and getting the best out of all of those who played within its ranks. Sue’s infectious ability to motivate players was revered by those who were lucky enough to cross paths with Sue with the outpouring of grief from around Australian and the World, is a testament to that.

Australian lacrosse has suffered a loss the magnitude of which will be felt for a very long time to come but such was Sue’s stature in the game we are confident that her legacy will continue to inspire Australian lacrosse players for many years to come.

To John, Hayley, Jess and Chris, we express out most sincere condolences. Our thoughts are also extended to the entire Australian Women’s Lacrosse Team, the members of the Newport Ladies Lacrosse Club and everyone within Lacrosse Victoria.

Vale Sue Sofarnos.

Tribute from the Australian Lacrosse Network, 22nd Sept, 2020

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