The National Lacrosse League has announced three finalists for the 2015 NLL Executive of the Year award. Scott Loffler from the Buffalo Bandits, Lewis Staats of the Rochester Knighthawks and Bruce Urban from the Edmonton Rush are the top vote recipients for their roles as executives with their respective teams.
Scott Loffler, Director of Lacrosse Operations, Buffalo Bandits
With an integral role behind one of the NLL’s most successful and storied franchises, Scott Loffler is a diligent advocate of box lacrosse and the National Lacrosse League. Found behind the scenes with a hands-on approach at nearly every Bandits event year-round, Scott leads by example and is always willing to share his ideas with others in the league in the hopes that they achieve success in their endeavors.
Passionate about the game, Scott is the face of the Buffalo Bandits organization in the Western New York Community. Scott recently commenced a new program in the area which involved players going to schools and speaking about the importance of life skills such as integrity and leadership, as well as the sport of lacrosse.
As the driving force behind the Bandits’ day-to-day operations and community initiatives, Loffler was instrumental in coordinating the Tucker Out Lymphoma Night to raise funds and awareness in helping to honor the memory of Tucker Williams, son of NLL veteran Shawn Williams, who passed away from cancer. He also took the lead on the Bandits’ basket raffle to raise money for Michelle Fines, partner of Edmonton goalie Aaron Bold, to support her fight against bone cancer.
Loffler helped create the Bandits Youth Indoor Lacrosse League for high school, middle school and elementary-school players, the first of its kind in Western New York, in addition to organizing clinics and camps, all helping to grow the game at the youth and grassroots level. Under his direction, the Jr. Bandits participated in the Jr. NLL Tournament for the second-straight summer, with the program continuing to grow each year.
Through Loffler’s leadership, the Bandits continue as exemplary ambassadors for the National Lacrosse League and the sport of box lacrosse.
Lewis Staats, President & Assistant General Manager, Rochester Knighthawks
Rochester Knighthawks President Lewis Staats has been nominated as the National Lacrosse League’s Executive of the Year. In his seven seasons at the helm, he has overseen the greatest period of success in the team’s 21-year history. The Knighthawks not only won three straight NLL championships, but have launched several major initiatives to expand their fan base and reach out to the Rochester community.
In 2015, the Knighthawks experienced substantial financial gains in ticket revenue, which allowed the team to increase its total revenue by over $150,000. That spike was due in some part to the addition of 320 new season ticket holders. Rochester ended its regular season schedule with the two highest attended games of the seasons, drawing crowds of over 7,900 and 8,500 respectively. The team also utilized a new digital partnership with the Democrat & Chronicle Media Group to reach new sports fans through target marketing.
The Knighthawks also experienced financial growth in merchandise after taking over the operation prior to the season. In 2015, the Knighthawks opened their own team store with an expanded line of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel. The move allowed the team to shatter previous merchandise sales records and double its revenue.
This past season, the Knighthawks also made great strides to reach out to the community and its local heroes. One of the new policies this season was admitting military members, past and present, to all home games for free. With the team playing at The Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial, Staats thought it appropriate to honor the troops with free admission to the games. Keeping with that theme, the Knighthawks put a twist on Fan Appreciation Night to end the season. The team instead held a Military Appreciation Night, which drew a season-high crowd of 8,535 and included veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The team also raised funds for Veterans Count and Honor Flight Rochester through the sale of military T-shirts.
Under Staats, the team has become one of the most generous sports teams in Rochester. At the Knighthawks Annual Give Back charitable fundraising event, 21 charities received net proceeds for their causes through the sale of Knighthawks tickets. The K-Hawks also raised $7,000 through their annual jersey auction to benefit Urology Associates of Rochester’s mission of fighting prostate cancer. In addition, the team donated tickets to dozens of local charities this season, including Strong Hospital, Happiness House, Big Brothers Big Sisters, American Lung Association, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Catholic Charities.
The Knighthawks have continued to make strides in reaching their younger fans. This season alone, Healthy Hawks and their Anti-bullying program have engaged over 5,200 students at 30 school appearances. Healthy Hawks educates students on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, while the Anti-bullying effort teaches kids the signs of bullying and where to go for help. The Anti-bullying program has reached over 15,000 kids over the last three seasons with forward Joe Walters serving as the spokesperson.
This summer, the Knighthawks will also launch their own lacrosse camps with Walters serving as the head instructor. Under Staats’ direction, the Knighthawks took the camps in-house and will run two boys and one girls camp this offseason. The team conducted three box lacrosse specific camps during the season, which included a camp for kids in the Seneca Nation. The team also continued to support Breaking Barriers Lacrosse, which offers an alternative to those who are unable to play in mainstream lacrosse. The program is the first adaptive lacrosse program in New York.
With the mission of growing the game of lacrosse, Staats has made the Knighthawks one of the top franchise’s in Rochester and in the National Lacrosse League. Through his leadership, and that of his staff, the team has not only made winning championships a tradition, but giving back to one of the most loyal fan bases and communities in the league.
Bruce Urban, Owner & Governor, Edmonton Rush
The Rush celebrated its 10th anniversary in the National Lacrosse League with another outstanding regular season, finishing on top of the West Division and with the second-best overall record, en route to the team’s first-ever Champion’s Cup title.
Off the turf, the Rush continued to spark interest in professional lacrosse in Edmonton by bringing in major attractions to home games including the Sea Gals – the cheerleaders from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
As part of the team’s 10th anniversary, Urban honored the team’s biggest fan, Grandma Rush, and was part of the creative team that developed special anniversary collectible jerseys.
However during the anniversary season festivities, the Rush were once again hit by serious health news regarding one of their own as Michelle Fines, the life partner of Rush goalie Aaron Bold, was diagnosed with cancer. To help with the medical costs, Urban was instrumental in the Rush’s development of Superhero jerseys that were auctioned off to fans with the money raised going to support Michelle and Aaron.
Urban engineered numerous charitable events for the Rush during the season including hospital visits and a special trip to world-famous West Edmonton Mall’s Galaxyland amusement park for 40 inner-city youth from the Crystal Kids organization.
Urban’s steadfast push to bring the Rush and the sport of lacrosse to the mainstream resulted in booming media interest from television (CTV, Global, CBC), print (Edmonton Sun and Edmonton Journal), and radio (TSN 1260) as well as a constantly updated website and social media presence.
The 2015 NLL Executive of the Year award is determined by a vote of the league’s Board of Governors at the end of the regular season. The winner will be announced at the NLL Season Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 29 in Toronto, Ont.
Schedule of finalist announcement for the remaining NLL Season Awards:
Monday, June 22: Head Coach of the Year (The Les Bartley Award) award finalists
Tuesday, June 23: General Manager of the Year award finalists
Wednesday, June 24: Rookie of the Year award finalists
Thursday, June 25: Most Valuable Player award finalists
Monday, June 29: Teammate of the Year award finalists
Tuesday, June 30: Pinty’s Wingman of the Year award finalists
Monday, July 6: Media Person of the Year (The Tom Borrelli Award) winner
Tuesday, September 29: 2015 NLL Season Awards Ceremony