Gabriela (Gabby) Juocys is among the best “made-in-Michigan” players. Growing up in Rochester, she started playing in Middle School and earned playing honors her whole career. Gabby Juocys (pronounced ‘yo-chess’,) played scholastically at Academy of the Sacred Heart and then as a collegian at Boston University. She started in all games at all levels, except her first year at Boston University.
At ASH, (1995-1998,) she was named to the All-State team as a freshman and repeated every year. She ended her career at ASH as an All-American, All-Midwest and was invited to play in the National Tournament. The capper to her prep career: in 2002, she was inducted into the Michigan Catholic High School Hall of Fame.
At BU, (1999-2002,) Gabby was honored every year starting with Most Improved Player as a freshman and ending her career as Tri-Captain, receiving National All-American honors, Tournament MVP honors, and other all-star honors. She holds the record at BU for caused turnovers in a career (107) and in a season (41). Gabby, a defender, took great pride in her defensive unit, which ranked second best nationally, giving up only 6.58 goals per game.
Returning to Michigan, Gabby “gave back to the game” by coaching at several schools and working with Warrior Lacrosse. We are proud to include Gabby Juocys into the Michigan Lacrosse Hall of Fame for her tremendous accomplishments on the field. She has blazed a trail for many Michigan players to follow.
Michigan State University was the first Division 1 program in the state from 1970 through 1997. MSU’s accomplishments were considerable and many of its best years were lead by Rich Kimball, head coach from 1981 through 1997.
Rich grew up in Massachusetts and played lacrosse for four years at the only public high school team to offer the sport. He attended Bowdoin College and in his senior year as a captain of the team won ten games, its best season ever at that time. Rich graduated and began a high school teaching career as well as coaching lacrosse and ice hockey.
Pursuing a career change to exercise physiology, Rich started a masters degree program at Michigan State. He discovered the MSU lacrosse program in 1979 and joined as a volunteer coach. Rich was appointed head coach for the 1981 season and went to work developing the program. He continued as head coach until the program was surprisingly dropped in 1997. During this span, the team won127 games and made three NCAA tournament appearances, in 1987, 1989 and 1991. MSU’s last lacrosse game, in the spring of 1997, was against Cornell in Spartan Stadium. MSU won convincingly. Rich had taken the program to national prominence.
Rich was also a six-year member of the NCAA Lacrosse Committee. This governing body is responsible for mandating the rules for all of lacrosse and organizing the NCAA Lacrosse Championships. In addition tothese commitments, Rich also served a three-year term on the National Federation of High Schools Lacrosse Rules Committee.
Rich’s influence was not limited to the college level. He also worked with Tom Mitchell, Mike Campbell and Burt Smith to start the Michigan Chapter of U.S. Foundation, the predecessor to the Michigan Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse, which is holding these Hall of Fame ceremonies today.
Rich has held and spoken at multiple clinics and lacrosse functions. He is currently the Athletic Director and Assistant Principal of Lansing Catholic High School.
In 2009 Rich was part of the inaugural class inducted to the Michigan Lacrosse Coaches Hall of Fame. We salute Rich for his accomplishments, the heights to which he took the MSU Men’s Varsity Lacrosse program, and thank him for his many acts in the furtherance of lacrosse in the state of Michigan.
Michigan State University was the first Division 1 program in the state from 1970 through 1997. Bill Prahler has been a pioneer of lacrosse in Michigan, as a player on the fi rst MSU club team and as a coach in multiple settings. Moreover, Bill has stood for civility, honor of the game, and technical excellence in a still-active career spanning 50 seasons.
Bill played lacrosse at MSU from 1962-1966 (co-captain ‘66). This put him on the inaugural MSU club team with fellow Hall of Fame member Mike Jolly. Bill coached the boys and girls at Lansing Waverly (in various years) from 1992-2005, recording an impressive 208 wins. He went the extra mile, taking the team east to seek out opposition with deep lacrosse roots. Bill’s boys’ teams won the state championship in 2000 and were runners-up in 1998.
Along with Bob Stevenson, Bill coached the MSU women’s club team from 2006-2008, winning the WCLL league championship in 2007 and making two national championship tournament appearances.
Bill presently coaches girls’ lacrosse at Okemos High School. His record there is 73-3, with consecutive state titles (and undefeated years) in 2009 and 2010.
Bill was inducted into the Michigan High School Lacrosse Coaches’ Hall of Fame in 2009.
Exemplary of Bill’s heart, he took the initiative for the coaches’ association to name its best male player of the year award after Chuck Vorce, a Lansing Catholic High School lacrosse player who died of cancer in 1995. Waverly still holds an annual Chuck Vorce Tournament for JV teams in his honor.
We welcome Bill Prahler to the USLM Hall of Fame, and look forward to his continued accomplishments and success.
Jeff Sonke is a Michigan born lacrosse player who has excelled at the top levels of the went on to have After leading Birmingham Seaholm to the 1997 state championship game, an outstanding collegiate and professional career.
Jeff was recognized as a great player at an early age. Despite starting to play lacrosse in the eighth grade, he made the varsity team as a freshman in high school. He then went on to garner All-State honors in his junior year followed by All-American honors and the state championship MVP honor in his senior year.
Recruited to play at the University of North Carolina, he was a starter at attack for all 4 years, the ACC Rookie of the Year, the Tarheels’ leading scorer for several years, and garnered All-American honors for three years.
Fortunately for Jeff, after graduating his playing days were far from over. The Major Lacrosse League (MLL) was launched and Jeff was selected by the Baltimore Bayhawks in the 2nd round of the initial draft. Jeff won two MLL titles with the Bayhawks before moving to Denver where he was a star player for the Denver Outlaw. Jeff finished his nine-year pro career in Denver in 2009.
Jeff has been an incredible ambassador to the sport from our state. Besides being an outstanding player, he has always been recognized throughout his career by coaches, players and fans as a great teammate and true gentleman. We are honored and proud to induct him into the Michigan Lacrosse Hall of Fame. the sport.