The Buffalo Bandits are pleased to announce the John Faller Memorial Award, which will be given annually to a coach or administrator whose contributions to amateur lacrosse in Western New York positively impact all those who play for them. The recipient will be somebody who treats the game and opponents with respect and honor and inspires athletes to be the best versions of themselves.
John dedicated his life to education and coaching. He spent over 40 years as a physical education teacher in the Sweet Home school district. John created the first ever Sweet Home Panthers lacrosse program in 1976. He coached the team from its inception until he retired after the 2017 season. Faller led the Panthers to six Section VI titles and his 373 victories ranks second all-time in Section VI. From 1980-2014, John served as the Section VI boy’s lacrosse chairman. It was in this role that Faller created the WNY exceptional Seniors Men’s Lacrosse Game, the longest-running High School All-Star game in New York State.
Coach Faller had found success in every avenue he walked. In 2005, he was inducted into the Western New York Lacrosse Hall of Fame, large in part for being a pioneer of the sport in the region. In 2018, Faller was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame for his outstanding coaching careers in both high school football and lacrosse, but also as a player for the UB Bulls and Twin City Geminis football teams. Sweet Home inducted John into their Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2019.
“It wasn’t just about the wins and losses,” said Williamsville East boy’s lacrosse head coach Ed Greenway, who took over for Faller as the Section VI chairman in 2014. “It was about how to make these kids be better as people, better fathers and how are they going to make a difference in the world. That service that he gave to his players and us in Western New York, that’s what made him a great coach.”
Faller passed away unexpectedly in 2019. Alumni of the Sweet Home lacrosse program got to work right away and created the John Faller Memorial Alumni Lacrosse Game, which was preceded by an on-field tribute where several hundred friends, coaching colleagues, former players and students gathered to remember their fallen friend.
“Every person we spoke with while looking for the right person to name this award after mentioned the same name. It’s clear what John Faller meant to the lacrosse community in Western New York. He helped build programs from the ground up, inspired his players, and taught them the importance of the Creators game,” said Dan Ristine, coordinator of lacrosse operations for the Bandits. “John’s legacy will live on through this award each year and we are excited to learn who the first recipient will be.”
If you would like to nominate a youth lacrosse coach or administrator from the Western New York area for the John Faller Memorial Award, please follow this link. All nominations must be received no later than Friday, Jan. 14. The inaugural award will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 18 when the Bandits take on the Albany FireWolves and celebrate Youth Lacrosse Night.