Team Triad Elite Sweetlax

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Program Director

Ira Vanterpool

Ira Vanterpool, an esteemed figure in the lacrosse community, brings a wealth of experience and a legacy of success to the coaching arena. A notable alumnus of Syracuse University, Coach Vanterpool played a fundamental role as a member of the 1995 National Championship team, showcasing his skill and dedication to the sport at the highest collegiate level. His leadership qualities were further exemplified as Co-Captain of the Syracuse Lacrosse team during his senior year in 1998.

Coach Vanterpool's impact on the lacrosse scene in the Triad region is monumental. His coaching journey began with multiple high school programs, notably serving as an assistant varsity coach at Greensboro Day School from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, he assumed the role of Director of Lacrosse and Head Varsity Lacrosse Coach at GDS, overseeing the middle school, junior varsity, and varsity teams until 2018. Under his guidance, the teams at GDS achieved remarkable success, and Coach Vanterpool's coaching prowess earned him six Piedmont Athletic Conference of Independent School Coach of the Year honors. In 2015, he was recognized as the US Lacrosse NCISAA Coach of the Year.

Currently, Coach Vanterpool holds the position of head lacrosse coach at Walter Hines Page High School in Greensboro. His tenure has been marked by outstanding achievements, including winning the conference NCHSAA 4A Metro in 2021 and co-champion status in 2023. His dedication to developing lacrosse talent has been acknowledged with selections to coach prestigious events such as the Inside Lacrosse EPOCH Committed Academy games in 2016, 2017, and 2018, featuring some of the nation's top high school prospects. Coach Vanterpool was also chosen to lead the Warrior-All American games at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts. Since 2022, he has continued to serve as one of the New Balance All-America South coaches.

Beyond high school lacrosse, Coach Vanterpool has made significant contributions as the Lacrosse Director at NC Fusion Sports from 2019 to 2023. In this role, he has played a key part in helping numerous players in the Triad region achieve their goal of playing Collegiate Lacrosse.

Coach Ira Vanterpool's coaching journey is characterized by a passion for player development, a commitment to excellence, and a tireless dedication to growing the sport of lacrosse in the Triad and beyond. His impact is felt not only through the victories and accolades of the teams he coaches but also in the lives of the players he mentors and guides towards achieving their lacrosse goals.

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Head of Operations

John Hardy

John Adam Hardy, a lacrosse coaching standout with an impressive track record, has consistently demonstrated his prowess and leadership in the realm of collegiate lacrosse. Originally hailing from Greensboro, Coach Hardy's journey in the sport began at the high school level, playing under the guidance of coaches Evan Smith at Page High School and Ira Vanterpool at Greensboro Day School from 2006 to 2011.

As an undergraduate at Hobart College, Hardy showcased his skills as an attackman for three seasons, setting the stage for his enduring passion for the sport. His commitment to lacrosse extended beyond the playing field, as he served the Hobart Athletic Department both as a student athletic trainer and a student assistant lacrosse coach. Recognizing his exceptional contributions, Hardy was awarded the prestigious Joe Abraham Prize in 2016 for his outstanding service to Hobart Athletics.

Coach Hardy's coaching career reached new heights during his tenure at the University of Tampa. As the Offensive Coordinator, he played a pivotal role in the team's undefeated season and national championship triumph in 2022, securing a historic victory over Mercy College with a scoreline of 13-9. Under his strategic guidance, the Spartans led Division 2 in scoring offense, showcasing Hardy's acumen for developing high-powered offensive units. In addition to his role as Offensive Coordinator, he oversaw the coaching of specialty positions, notably goalies and faceoffs, with notable success stories including Blake Ulmer (first team All-American D-2) and Hunter Turner (1st team all SCC). Simultaneously, Coach Hardy took on the responsibilities of Director of Operations for the University of Tampa, further showcasing his versatility and leadership capabilities.

Transitioning to Hobart, Hardy made an immediate impact as a member of the coaching staff. In his first season, he played a crucial role in the team's remarkable turnaround from a 4-10 record in 2018 to an impressive 11-5 in 2019. The 2019 team not only finished second in the NEC regular-season standings and the NEC Tournament but also shattered the program's Division I era season records for wins, goals, assists, and points. Even in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Hobart under Coach Hardy's guidance led the nation in scoring offense, setting a new Division I era record for goals per game.

Coach John Adam Hardy's coaching journey is marked by a commitment to excellence, player development, and a knack for achieving remarkable turnarounds. His impact on both offensive strategies and the overall success of the teams he has coached is a testament to his profound understanding of the game and his ability to inspire excellence in his players.

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Triad Elite Coach

Shannon Robinson

Shannon Robinson, a distinguished lacrosse coach and former player, brings a wealth of experience and a winning pedigree to the coaching arena. Graduating from Nassau Community College in 2008, Robinson played a pivotal role in securing a Juco National Championship for his team, showcasing his skill, determination, and leadership on the field.

Continuing his lacrosse journey, Robinson further distinguished himself at SUNY Farmingdale State, where he contributed significantly to the team's success. In 2011, he played a key role in securing the Skyline Conference Championship, adding another accolade to his impressive resume.

Currently at the helm of Bishop McGuinness, Robinson has etched his name as a highly successful head coach. Under his guidance, the team has enjoyed remarkable success, earning Conference Championships twice and reaching the West Region 123A Finalist position on two occasions. Robinson's coaching acumen has not gone unnoticed, as he has been honored with the Coach of the Year title three times, a testament to his ability to inspire and lead his team to excellence.

Shannon Robinson's coaching philosophy is marked by a commitment to player development, strategic innovation, and fostering a winning culture. His coaching journey reflects a relentless pursuit of success both on and off the field, setting high standards for his players and consistently achieving notable accomplishments throughout his career. As he continues to lead and inspire at Bishop McGuinness, Robinson's impact on the lacrosse community remains a testament to his dedication, leadership, and passion for the sport.

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Triad Elite Coach

Noble Smith

Noble Smith, the current goalkeeper for Marist College, brings a richness of lacrosse experience and leadership to the coaching realm. His journey in the sport is marked by numerous accolades and a proven track record of excellence.

Smith's lacrosse prowess was evident during his time at Forsyth Country Day, where he played a pivotal role in leading the team to victory in the 2021 North Carolina State Championship. Serving as the senior captain, he made an astonishing 133 saves while allowing just 6.7 goals per game, showcasing both skill and strategic acumen in the goal.

A two-time All-State and three-time All-Conference honoree, Smith's stellar high school career was characterized by consistently outstanding performances. His remarkable goalkeeping abilities resulted in a total of 559 saves, a testament to his dedication and proficiency on the field. Notably, Smith was a varsity team starter since his eighth-grade year in 2017, demonstrating a rare level of talent and maturity at a young age.

In recognition of his exceptional skills, Smith was named a Top-25 player to watch in the country by USA Lacrosse Magazine entering his junior year. This national acknowledgment highlights his impact on the lacrosse scene and solidifies his standing among the best players in the country.

Smith's defensive prowess was further emphasized by being named the Defensive Most Valuable Player for his high school team. His ability to read the game, make critical saves, and lead the defense speaks volumes about his understanding of the intricacies of lacrosse.

Beyond high school, Smith had the privilege of playing alongside other top talents in the NC Great 38 all-star game after the 2021 season. Additionally, he was recognized as an all-star at Maverick Showtime, further establishing his reputation as one of the standout players in the nation.

As Noble Smith transitions to coaching, his extensive playing experience, accolades, and leadership qualities position him as a valuable mentor for aspiring lacrosse players. His coaching philosophy centers around a commitment to excellence, a passion for the game, and the development of well-rounded athletes. Smith's unique journey in lacrosse serves as an inspiration for the Triad lacrosse community, and his coaching expertise is poised to elevate our Region to new heights.

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Triad Elite Coach

Ismael Villalba

Ismael Villalba is a highly accomplished lacrosse coach, renowned for his strategic acumen and exceptional leadership in the realm of lacrosse. Currently serving as the Offensive Coordinator for the Men's Varsity lacrosse team at Forsyth Country Day School since 2022, Ismael has played a pivotal role in shaping the team's offensive prowess and guiding them to success.

In addition to his responsibilities at Forsyth Country Day School, Ismael has been at the helm of the Buzz City Box Lacrosse 9th grade team as the head coach since 2023. Under his guidance, the team has flourished, showcasing a dynamic and skillful style of play that reflects Ismael's commitment to player development.

Ismael Villalba's coaching expertise extends beyond high school lacrosse, as evidenced by his role as the Head Coach for the Triad Elite Sweetlax 2027 team since 2023. Leading the team to excellence, Ismael has fostered a culture of growth and success, instilling both fundamental skills and a deep understanding of the game.

Prior to his current roles, Ismael contributed significantly to the lacrosse community as the Offensive Coordinator for the West Forsyth Men's lacrosse team during the 2021-2022 seasons. His strategic insight and ability to inspire players were key factors in the team's offensive achievements.

Ismael's coaching journey also includes a stint as the NC Fusion 2027 coach from 2021 to 2023, where he played a crucial part in developing young talent and preparing them for the competitive lacrosse landscape.

Recognizing the importance of lacrosse development in various formats, Ismael served as a coach for the NC Fusion box lacrosse team from 2021 to 2022, contributing to the growth of players in this specialized and fast-paced version of the game.

Ismael Villalba's dedication to the sport, coupled with his extensive coaching experience, has left an indelible mark on the lacrosse community. As he continues to lead and inspire athletes at different levels, his impact on the growth and success of lacrosse programs remains profound.

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Triad Elite Coach

Justin Pearson

Justin Pearson, a lacrosse enthusiast hailing from Morristown, New Jersey, has seamlessly transitioned from a decorated playing career to becoming a dedicated and knowledgeable lacrosse coach. Justin's journey in the sport began at Morristown High School, where he played under the tutelage of Head Coach Jeff Bigas—an esteemed figure with a remarkable background as a 4x NCAA All American and a player in both Major League Lacrosse (MLL) and National Lacrosse League (NLL).

During his high school tenure at Morristown, Justin Pearson left an indelible mark on the lacrosse landscape. Garnering accolades that reflected his exceptional skills, Pearson earned the distinction of being a 2nd team All-State player in New Jersey. His prowess on the field was further underscored by being named a 2x 1st team All Iron Hills Conference player, a 2x 1st team All Division-Klank Division athlete, and the 2008 Klank Division Player of the Year. Justin's contributions did not go unnoticed, as he also received Honorable Mention All-Morris County/Daily Record recognition. Beyond lacrosse, Pearson showcased his athletic versatility by earning Honorable Mention All Morris County honors in basketball during his senior year at Morristown.

Continuing his lacrosse journey at Greensboro College, Justin Pearson excelled as a four-year letterman and starter at Midfield. His commitment to the game was rewarded when he was voted Offensive MVP in his senior year—a testament to his skill, leadership, and impact on the field.

Justin's passion for lacrosse is not confined to the playing field. Following his undergraduate years, he pursued higher education and earned a Master’s Degree from Queens University of Charlotte, showcasing a commitment to both personal and professional development.

As a coach, Justin Pearson brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the game, shaped by his playing days under Coach Jeff Bigas and his collegiate career. His coaching journey is marked by a dedication to player development, strategic acumen, and a commitment to fostering a positive and competitive team culture. Justin Pearson continues to contribute to the lacrosse community, instilling the values of hard work, sportsmanship, and a love for the game in the athletes he mentors.

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Triad Elite Coach

Mike Burns

Michael Burns, widely known as Coach Mike, is a seasoned lacrosse enthusiast with an illustrious history spanning nearly three decades. His deep connection to the sport began during his collegiate years at The University of North Carolina Greensboro, where he not only played lacrosse but also developed a profound understanding and love for the game.

Coach Mike's coaching journey has been marked by a commitment to fostering the growth of lacrosse at the grassroots level. His extensive experience includes coaching multiple youth teams in the Triad Region, contributing significantly to the development of young lacrosse players in the area. His hands-on approach and dedication to player improvement have made him a respected figure in the local lacrosse community.

Coach Mike has been an integral part of various lacrosse organizations, including the Triad Youth Lacrosse Association, where he has lent his expertise for several years. His coaching contributions extend to the NC Fusion, where he has played a vital role in shaping the skills and character of aspiring lacrosse players.

In addition to his coaching roles, Coach Mike has served as the Greensboro Recreation Site Director at Proehlific Park, highlighting his multifaceted involvement in the lacrosse community. His leadership in this capacity demonstrates a commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for lacrosse enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.

Throughout his coaching career, Coach Mike has not only imparted technical skills but also instilled a passion for the sport, emphasizing sportsmanship and teamwork. His dedication to the growth of lacrosse at both the youth and recreational levels has left a lasting impact on the players he has coached and the broader lacrosse community in the Triad Region. As Coach Mike continues to share his knowledge and passion for lacrosse, his contributions to the sport's development remain invaluable.

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Triad Elite Coach

Andrew Gaunt

Andrew Gaunt, a distinguished figure in the lacrosse community, has left an indelible mark on the sport through his multifaceted involvement as a player, coach, and official over almost four decades. Hailing from England, Coach Gaunt's lacrosse journey began with representing Team England at the U19 and Senior Squads for the 1995, 1996 European Championships, and the 1998 World Championships. His early experiences as a player on the international stage laid the foundation for his enduring commitment to the growth and development of lacrosse.

As a player, Coach Gaunt showcased his skills and passion for the game at Catawba College, where he was a vital part of the Indians lacrosse team. Serving as a starter for all four years, Coach Gaunt earned the distinction of First Team All-Conference and Team MVP three times, underscoring his impact on the field. To this day, he holds the record for the most career saves at Catawba, a testament to his goalkeeping prowess.

Following his collegiate playing career, Coach Gaunt transitioned seamlessly into coaching, taking on the role of Head Lacrosse Coach at Mars Hill College. His leadership and coaching acumen were evident as he guided the team through its competitive endeavors.

Coach Gaunt's coaching journey extended to the high school level in both Washington DC and Greensboro, where he continued to impart his knowledge and passion for the sport to the next generation of lacrosse players. His dedication to the growth of lacrosse and the positive development of young athletes has been a constant throughout his coaching career.

Beyond his contributions as a player and coach, Coach Gaunt has also served as an official, bringing a comprehensive understanding of the game to the officiating realm. His well-rounded experience has positioned him as a valuable asset to the lacrosse community, contributing to the sport's growth and fostering a deep appreciation for its nuances.

Coach Andrew Gaunt's enduring love for lacrosse is exemplified by his commitment to passing on his abundance of experience. Witnessing the sport's evolution and the growth of future generations of lacrosse players brings him immense joy, further solidifying his legacy as a respected figure in the lacrosse world.

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Triad Elite Coach

Dan Tichy

Dan Tichy is a highly respected figure in the lacrosse community, known for his passion, dedication, and exemplary coaching abilities. Hailing originally from Bayport, Long Island, Tichy's lacrosse journey began at St. John the Baptist High School, where he honed his skills playing for the Cougars in the Catholic League for four impactful years.

Following his high school career, Tichy continued his lacrosse journey at Manhattan College, where he played for the Division I Jaspers for four years. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science, Tichy embarked on a successful career with Spantech Software, Inc., where he has served as a Data Solutions Architect for over two decades.

Driven by his love for the sport, Tichy found his calling in coaching while residing in New Jersey, where he served as an assistant lacrosse coach at New Providence High School. Additionally, he remained actively involved in post-college lacrosse, competing in the American Lacrosse League.

In 2010, Tichy and his family relocated to Burlington, NC, where he has been instrumental in fostering the growth of lacrosse in the Triad region. His coaching tenure at Greensboro Day School, where he served as Offensive Coordinator from 2012 to 2017, and his role in establishing Triad Elite underscore his commitment to elevating the sport at all levels.

Since 2017, Tichy has served as the head coach for boys' lacrosse at Northwest Guilford High School, achieving remarkable success with the Vikings. Under his leadership, the team has consistently made postseason appearances, including impressive runs to the Final Four, Elite 8, and Sweet Sixteen. In 2022, Tichy expanded his coaching responsibilities to include the Northwest Guilford girls' lacrosse program, immediately leading them to a successful season and a Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Tichy's influence extends beyond the high school level, as he is deeply involved in youth lacrosse development. Serving as the Director of Lacrosse for Burlington Recreation and Parks and founding 6Kings, a middle school feeder program for Northwest Guilford, Tichy is dedicated to nurturing young talent and fostering a love for the sport.

Outside of coaching, Tichy remains an active participant in lacrosse, playing for the masters team, the Asheville Fog. He also gives back to the community through his role as an Alderman for the Village of Alamance and volunteering as a coach for various local recreational sports teams.

Tichy's coaching accolades, including multiple Coach of the Year awards and championship titles, attest to his expertise and impact in the lacrosse community. His unwavering dedication to the sport and commitment to player development make him a highly respected figure and a driving force behind the growth of lacrosse in North Carolina.