Skip to main content

USA Lacrosse North Florida Chapter Hall of Fame Announcement

via the North Florida Chapter website and press release

The Recognition Committee of the North Florida Chapter Board recently convened the Hall of Fame Selection Committee and has selected its newest members of the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021. A formal induction ceremony/dinner will be held later this spring at a date and location to be determined.

In the 2020 Class, one inductee — Jake Bernhardt – was selected as a truly great player, three others — Rory WhippleTom West and Jeff Goldberg — were selected as truly great coaches, and Kevin O’Leary was selected as an official with significant contributions in Florida.

The Class of 2021 includes Jesse Bernhardt – selected as a truly great player, Brian Theiss – selected as a truly great coach, and Lee Roggenburg was selected as an individual with significant contributions to the sport in Florida.

Jake Bernhardt is a two-time US Lacrosse High School All-American and was selected as a 2008 Under Armour High School All-American. Ranked the No. 11 freshman midfielder in the nation according to Inside Lacrosse, Jake was a tryout invitee for the 2008 U.S. Under-19 national team – one of only two Florida players every invited to a Team USA tryout. He was recruited to the University of Maryland and during his collegiate career, was a two-time national runner-up and 2012 and 2013 team captain with the Terrapins. He was drafted 12th overall by the Hamilton Nationals in the 2012 MLL Draft and is a 3x PLL Champion with the Whipsnakes and a 3x All-Star.

A mainstay in the NCAA college coaching ranks, including the last 15 years in Florida, Rory Whipple is one of the all-time winningest college coaches. Approaching 400 wins – he is recognized for starting up multiple NCAA programs and turning each into winning teams. He has won multiple conference championships and led his college teams into many NCAA post-season playoffs. He is an inducted member of the National Junior College Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Cortland State Hall of Fame. Rory was the inaugural Head Coach at the University of Tampa and was 131-38 at UT at the time of his retirement. Rory is universally acknowledged as one of the senior coaching leaders of the sport nationally and in Florida.

Tom West is one of the winningest high school lacrosse coaches in the United States. With a 405-78 record to-date, Tom has received virtually every coaching award offered by various lacrosse organizations. His teams have been perennially ranked as a Top 25 team by Inside Lacrosse, and his Ponte Vedra team won the state championship in 2019. He is a 3x USA Lacrosse Chapter Coach of the Year; was awarded man of the Year in 2008; and Assistant Coach of the Year in 2004. Tom is acknowledged as one of the “Founding Fathers” of the sport in Florida and has been a recognized leader and representative of our state for decades.

Considered one of the most successful high school coaches in the history of Florida lacrosse and nationally, Jeff Goldberg established a culture across the state that allowed Florida to reach hotbed status with states like Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. Jeff lead Saint Andrew’s School as Head Coach for 16 years, and during that tenure his program competed for 16 state championships and won 14 state titles. As a leader and coach with Team Florida – the first state-wide Florida club team to compete nationally against the best teams in the country – Jeff led his teams to multiple tournament championships. Goldberg has coached for a variety of other high school institutions with tremendous results and winning records.

Kevin O’Leary is a nationally-recognized High School and college official. He has officiated 20 state and private League high school championships and over 7 NCAA D1 Finals, 1 D2 Final and 17 D1 Semi-Finals. To-date, O’Leary has officiated 24 consecutive NCAA Final Fours. Kevin’s experience also includes officiating at the professional and international levels. O’Leary played goal for the University of Maryland (1981-1984) and has served in a variety of leadership roles including positions on the USA Lacrosse Board of Directors, NILOA Board and as the Director of Officiating with Major League Lacrosse.

Jesse Bernhardt has had success at all levels of lacrosse, winning a World Championship with Team USA and a Major League Lacrosse Championship with the Chesapeake Bayhawks, while also appearing multiple times as both a player and a coach at the NCAA’s Championship weekend. Jesse was a two-time U.S. Lacrosse High School All-American and a 2009 Under Armour High School All-American. He was a two-sport star at Lake Brantley, which included playing as a linebacker on the Patriot football team. Playing for the University of Maryland, Bernhardt was a two-time captain and two-time USILA All-American, in addition to being named a USILA Scholar All-American. He was the ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2012. In the spring of 2020, Chrome LC selected Bernhardt second overall in the Premier Lacrosse League entry draft.  He won a Major League Lacrosse Championship with the Bayhawks in 2013 and has earned multiple MLL All-Star nods. He also has experience at the international level, helping Team USA to a gold medal finish at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship and a silver medal runner-up 2014.

As a coach leading programs in the early formative stages of Florida Lacrosse, Brian Theiss started as an assistant coach at Lake Brantley then left to take the reins of the Winter Springs program. Moving back to serve as head coach for Lake Brantley, Brian developed some of the most skilled and exciting athletic talent to ever play the sport in Florida. Theiss was also a mainstay for the Florida Possums elite program serving as head coach and a senior administrator. Recently, he launched the lacrosse program at Providence School which has reached the Top-10 in North Florida. Brian continues to make contributions to the sport through his commitment and efforts.

Lee Roggenburg serves a unique and special role in the entire state of Florida as the driving force behind Florida Lacrosse News. For the past ten years, his dedicated service to the sport at all levels – high school, college and professional with the Florida Launch and the Box Championships – has raised the profile of Florida in the lacrosse world and across the nation. Named 2014 Man of the Year in only his second year of FLN involvement, he has appeared many times on Lax Sports Network, Inside Lacrosse (his nearly 8,000-word article on the lacrosse connections to the Stoneman Douglas tragedy was published in a summarized format in IL Magazine), produces an in-season 5-day per week YouTube broadcast called Morning Coffee, which is continued twice a week during the offseason. He also now appears on the Varsity Sports Network in Florida, a statewide network of online channels, where he raised the coverage of lacrosse substantially to a wider audience of viewers getting their first exposure to the sport. The FLN website has become the go-to place for all with readership reaching over 40 states on a weekly basis.

The North Florida Chapter Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a program of USA Lacrosse, was established to honor men and women who by their deeds as players, coaches, officials and/or contributors, and by the example of their lives, personify the great contribution of lacrosse to our way of life in Florida and beyond.