The Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League today announced the names for their player awards. The MVP and Unsung Hero honors will be awarded to players from each team in the UCBLL and are named after people who have been essential to the growth of lacrosse in Western New York.
Most Valuable Player – This is awarded to the player on each team, as voted by their coaches, who had the largest impact on their team on and off the floor.
For teams located in Buffalo, the MVP award is named after Darris and Rich Kilgour. Darris and Rich grew up on the Tuscarora Reservation in Lewiston, NY. The brothers are both National Lacrosse League Hall of Famers and have won multiple NLL Championships, and each has a Les Bartley Award for NLL Coach of the Year on their resume.
Darris Kilgour was highly regarded as the first draft pick in Buffalo Bandits history. However, his brother Rich did not have the honor of being drafted, so he sees the value of the UCBLL for those trying to get recognized for NLL GMs.
“It’s an honor to have my name associated with the MVP award in the new Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League,” said Kilgour. “This league is giving another opportunity to WNY college lacrosse players to showcase their talents for the NLL. I probably would have competed in this league, being an undrafted player when I was trying out for the Bandits in 1992. Hopefully, this league will help produce high-level NLL talent for years to come.”
For teams in Rochester, the MVP award is named after Duane “Dewey” Jacobs. The standout forward spent 11 seasons (1993-2003) in the National Lacrosse League and was a four-time All-Pro. Jacobs, who is Cayuga and grew up in Ohsweken, Ont., broke into pro lacrosse with the Detroit Turbos (1993-94) before becoming a founding member of the previous Rochester Knighthawks in 1995. “Dewey” reached superstar status while in Rochester, where he played for the Knighthawks from 1995 to 2002. In 1997, he was a key member of the team’s first championship squad. In Rochester, he was also a two-time team MVP (1996 and 1999) and served as the team captain during the 2001-02 season. Jacobs spent his final season with the Buffalo Bandits in 2002-03. He finished his pro career with 196 goals and 206 assists in 113 games.
After retiring in 2003, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Bandits. Jacobs also served as the head coach of the Minnesota Swarm from 2007-09 and compiled a .521 winning percentage. In 2009, he returned to Rochester to join the inaugural class of the former Knighthawks Hall of Fame. Jacobs was also welcomed into the Ontario Lacrosse and Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fames for his efforts as a player, coach and executive.
Jacobs can now add MVP award to his long list of accomplishments.
Unsung Hero – This honor is awarded to the player on each team, as voted by their coaches, who have positively influenced their teammates, displayed a willingness to learn, demonstrated hard work, and commitment to the game of lacrosse.
Ken Lay Sr. embodied the Creators game. He was a coach, referee, player, and a huge asset to the North American Minor Lacrosse Association, which houses six local youth box lacrosse organization, since its inception. Ken, a member of the Newtown Golden Eagles minors, mens and masters teams, was a valuable asset to his community for many years as he and his wife would strive to promote the game of lacrosse to youth, even after their own son was too old to play. As a 2019 inductee of the Can-Am Hall of Fame, Lay Sr. won the 1994 Presidents Cup with the Tuscarora Thunderhawks, the first Can-Am team to ever win the prestigious title. He then went back to Newtown and clinched another Presidents Cup in 2000.
“Ken inspired us with the power of knowledge, motivated us with the best tutelage, and helped us move ahead with unending motivation as a leader and a human being. He was a true inspiration,” said Jacky Snyder, NAMLA Secretary.
Ken suddenly passed away earlier this month. After seeing the outpouring of support from the lacrosse community, it was an easy choice to officially name the Unsung Hero award for the Buffalo-based UCBLL teams after this man who dedicated his life to the sport of lacrosse.
Chris Schiller experienced tremendous success in Rochester, playing for the previous Knighthawks. For 11 seasons (2002-2012), the Penfield native played for his hometown team. The Penn State grad broke into the NLL in 2001 with the Philadelphia Wings and won his first NLL title. He came home in 2001-02 when the Knighthawks pulled off a deal with the Wings. The 2002-03 season was a breakout campaign for Schiller, as he posted 16 goals, eight assists and 93 loose balls. He was honored as a member of the NLL’s All-Rookie Team that season.
Schiller was also a constant threat transitioning the ball. During his career, “Schills” notched 49 goals and 73 assists for 122 points. He displayed incredible leadership during his tenure in Rochester, as well. Twice he was named one of the assistant captains, and three times he was voted the winner of the Unsung Hero award. In 2007, he helped the team finish 17-2 and capture the NLL championship.
On the international stage, Schiller represented the United States at back-to-back FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, playing defense for Team USA in 2007 and 2011. In 2015, he returned to the national team as an assistant coach. In 2010, he received the ultimate honor for a local lacrosse player, earning induction into the Greater Rochester Chapter of US Lacrosse Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was inducted into the previous Knighthawks Hall of Fame.
Now, for the first time in his career, an award will bear his name.
“It’s an incredible honor to have my name on the Unsung Hero Award for the UCBLL,” he said. “It was always an extremely proud moment in my career when I was awarded an Unsung Hero Award. It meant what I was doing on the field mattered and was valuable to my teammates. That’s all I could ask for. I hope whoever wins this award has the same pride winning it as I did.”