Vale - Sue Sofarnos

Sue with daughter Hayley (background) against WA in 2019
Sue with daughter Hayley (background) against WA in 2019
Image © Lacrosse Pix  
Sue at the 2019 Senior National Championships
Sue at the 2019 Senior National Championships
Image © Lacrosse Pix  

As many people know, on Saturday 19 September 2020, lacrosse lost one of the greats. The devasting and unexpected passing of Sue ‘Melli’ Sofarnos OAM has deeply saddened the lacrosse community. Lacrosse Victoria extend our deepest sympathies to her husband John, daughters Hayley and Jess, as well as her entire extended family.

Very few people touch a sport and a community so deeply. A testimony to not only her undeniable ability to command the sport she loved on the field and off, but also a show of her personality. Sue always gave more than she took, to everyone she crossed paths with. Her zest for life was irrepressible and the below is just a small flavour of her unprecedented achievements within lacrosse and her journey along the way.

Sue started playing lacrosse in 1971 at the age of 10 with the Newport Ladies Lacrosse Club (NLLC). From there, she went on to become one of the most decorated Australian lacrosse players and coaches in history.

She contributed to the sport at all levels: player, coach, administrator and volunteer with NLLC, Lacrosse Victoria, Australian Lacrosse Association and internationally.

At NLLC, Sue was most recently the Coaching Director, mentoring their many coaches. For years, she was the Head Coach of their State League team and was an 8-time Premiership winning coach.

Sue was a mainstay on the field or sideline for a Victorian women’s team since the late 1970s. She represented Victoria as a player for the Under-16’s and Seniors for over 20 years and captained the team on numerous occasions while winning three national championships. 

She then traded in her playing boots for career on the sidelines as a coach of a variety of representative teams, including Under-15 girls, Under-21 women and Senior women. At the senior level, she won six national championships as Head Coach including the most recent one in 2019.

Sue also donned the green and gold for Australia five times as a player from 1982 to 1997. She helped lead the team to two bronze medals, two silver medals and unhinged the USA for a gold medal (the first of only two times) and to crown Australia World Champions in 1986. She was named captain of the Australian team in 1989, 1993 and 1997 and was named to the “World Team” in 1982.

She returned to the sidelines with the Australian team in 2005 as an assistant coach with the World Champions followed by an appearance as Head Coach in 2009 narrowly losing out to the USA in the Gold medal match. Most recently in 2017 she served as Team Analyst and was named General Manager of the 2021 Senior Women’s team.

Off the field, Sue received numerous awards for services to the game. She won the Nell Rawlins Award twice in 1980 and 2019 (a Lacrosse Victoria award for an individual who has made a significant contribution to women’s lacrosse in any one year). She also received the Women’s Lacrosse Australia Merit Award in 2008.  

Earlier this year, Sue received the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her service to lacrosse.

Sue’s dedication, commitment and passion for lacrosse on and off the field knows no bounds. Sue was one of the best female players and coaches Australia has ever seen. Sue was much loved in the lacrosse community and she will be sadly missed.




Australian Lacrosse Association Australian Women's Team

  • Team Analyst, World Cup Team, 2017.
  • Head Coach, World Cup Program, 2015-2016.
  • Head Coach, 2009. (Silver medallists).
  • Assistant Coach, 2005, (World Champions).
  • Team Member, 1978-1997.
  • IFWLA Women's Lacrosse World Cups, 1982, 1986, 1989, 1993, and 1997.
  • Australian Captain, 1989,1993 and 1997
  • World Champions, 1986.
  • Silver Medallists, 1982 and 1997 and Bronze Medallists 1989, and 1993.
  • World Team Member, 1982.


Lacrosse Victoria

  • Head Coach, Victorian Women's Team, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
  • National Champions, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
  • All-Star Coach, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
  • Victorian Women's Team Member, 1981-1999.
  • Victorian Captain, 1987-1999.
  • National Champions, 1983, 1998 and 1999.
  • Victorian Women's Team Assistant Coach, 2003.
  • Victorian Under 21 Women's Team, 2007 - National Champions.
  • Victorian Under 15 Girls Victorian Teams Head Coach, 2011.
  • Victorian Under 15 Girls Victorian Team Manager, 2006.


Newport Ladies Lacrosse Club (NLLC)

  • NLLC State League Team, since 1974.
  • State League Premiership Coach, 1994, 1999, 2006-2008, 2010, 2014-2015 and 2018.
  • State League Premiership Player, 1977-1979, 1982, 1986-1987, 1989-1993, 1995 and 1997.
  • Director of Coaching, since 2012.
  • President, 2009-2012.
  • Jeannie Matthews Best Club Person, 1980, 1999 and 2019.
  • FIL Women's Competitions Committee, 2013-2014.


Awards and recognitions

  • Baton Bearer, Commonwealth Games, 2018.
  • Nominee, Sport Australia Hall of Fame, 2014.
  • Coach of the Year, Sport and Recreation Community, Government of Victoria, 2014.
  • Grant recipient, Victorian Government Sports Development for Women Program, 2006.
  • Recipient, Sport Australia Award Australian Sports Commission, 'for services to Women's Lacrosse', 2000.
  • Australian Living Legend - Women's Lacrosse, 1999.
  • Australian Sports Medal, 2000.
  • Neil Rawlins Award, (Lacrosse Victoria) for significant contribution to women’s lacrosse in any one year, 1980 and 2019.

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