Jessica Bardenwas an All-American Lacrosse Player at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. Her passion and love for the game, combined with good coaching and some natural skills, led her to start AZGL. We know her at AZGL and Desert Heat as the founder of this organization. We also know she is the head coach of the Chaparral Varsity Girls Lacrosse Club in Scottsdale and has lead them to five state titles. In her quest to grow lacrosse at a national level, she has served on the US Lacrosse Board of Directors and many other committees in the past. Today she serves on the US Lacrosse Youth Subcommittee, Coaches Education Committee, and Sport and Development Committee. She is also a Level 1 certified trainer in the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program. In 2010, she received the Excellence in Growing the Game award from US Lacrosse.
Tyna Murphy is originally from South Portland, Maine. She moved west and played college lacrosse at Arizona State University where she was team captain and a 1st Team all star for the WWLL her junior and senior year. She then continued as Head Coach of the Sun Devils for 5 years. During her time with the Sun Devils the team made their first appearance in the US Lacrosse WCLA National Championship Tournament where they received the Team Sportsmanship award. Tyna is also a founder of Desert heat, a Nationally rated Official, the current Local Board Chair for the AWLUA, sits on the National Umpire Committee (WGOSC) and US Lacrosse's Sport Development Committee. Tyna is also a Desert Stix coach and professionally, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach/ Personal Trainer with FasTraX Performance Training.
Kali is from Scottsdale, Arizona and began playing lacrosse her sophomore year of high school. She started her lacrosse career as an attack player for Notre Dame Preparatory. During her senior year, she was named AGLA All-State and was awarded Attack Player of the Year. She also played for coach Jessica Barden and coach Tyna Murphy on the Arizona Heat team during high school.
Her passion and love for the game made her decision easy to bring lacrosse to Northern Arizona University, where she studied exercise science. In 2009 she founded the NAU Women’s Lacrosse program. As a player-coach Kali discovered her passion for coaching, and committed to coaching the team full time during her last season at NAU.
Kali has been coaching for Desert Heat for three years as well as the youth program Desert StiX here in the valley. Kali was named Head Coach for the Arizona Women's National Team in 2017, and 2016 named Assistant Coach.
She is thankful for the opportunity to work with such an amazing coaching staff here at Desert Heat. She enjoys snowboarding, hiking, and fly-fishing. Her favorite sport to watch is hockey and her favorite team is the Detroit Red Wings!
Whitney Leavitt is originally from Hockessin, DE and found her way to St. Charles, MO to pursue her love of Field Hockey and Lacrosse where she played competitively at Lindenwood University. As a freshman, Whitney was selected as the Lions Lacrosse Team Captain and regained that honor as a Sophomore. Whitney was also awarded as Lindewood’s Most Valuable Player and earned various conference awards as well. Whitney moved to Fayetteville, AR to finish out her degree at the University of Arkansas where she created the first women’s collegiate lacrosse club in the state. Arkansas made their first appearance to the CPWLL playoffs just 7 months after evolving as a sport at the U of A. Whitney finished off her playing career at Arkansas by being selected as a US Lacrosse/IWLCA All-American Midfielder, CPWLL’s Most Valuable Midfielder, CPWLL’s First Team All-League, CPWLL’s First Team All-Conference and Arkansas’s Most Valuable Offender and Midfielder. Whitney served as the Head Coach at the University of Arkansas for two more years until she accepted the Head Coach position at Thiel College (DIII) in Greenville, PA. After a year at Thiel, Whitney moved to the eastern side of the state to pursue her career in business which then lead to taking a job in Arizona. Upon arrival in Arizona, Whitney pursued her love of the game by accepting the position of Head Coach at Gilbert High School. Whitney coached Gilbert for 3 seasons and recently stepped away to focus her efforts on the youth level. She continues to serve as a coach for Desert Heat and Desert Stix and is loving every minute of it!
Melissa Buel was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved the Arizona in 2000. She played lacrosse for Horizon High School and traveled with Desert Heat. She was a team captain and a 1st Team all star for the WWLL when she played for The University of Arizona Lacrosse Team. After college, Melissa moved to North Carolina to teach English as a Second language. In 2014, she moved back to Scottsdale for a job opportunity in the financial industry. She now plays for the post Arizona post collegiate team and is the head of the Pixi program in Scottsdale. She is excited to grow the love of the sport in Arizona at an early age.
David is originally from the Washington DC area and has been around the game for as long as he can remember. During his playing career he played Attack, Midfield, and Defensive Midfield in high school as well as for Butler University, where he founded and ran the Men’s club lacrosse program for four years, eventually leading them to their first-ever playoff appearance in the CCLA. As a player he received awards for leadership, overall improvement, and was a four-time captain at Butler University.
David began coaching in 2007 when he was approached by a high school in Indianapolis to help their Girl’s lacrosse program which was still in developmental stages. Although initially hesitant due to the inherent differences between Men’s and Women’s lacrosse, David quickly developed a passion for the game and specifically for player development. By 2009 he had been promoted to Head Coach, and led the program to become a perennial Final Four contender before he graduated and left Indiana after completing his undergraduate studies.
Since that time David has coached at camps and clinics across the US, and at the high school and NCAA ranks in both Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse, assisting the development of numerous Academic All-American, All State, All Region, and All American players.
David is currently an assistant coach for Chaparral High School, and enjoys spending time around Scottsdale with his wife, Allie, their baby, Levi, and their two dogs, Oliver and Milo.
Coach Lexi is from Gilbert, AZ and began playing lacrosse her freshman year at Gilbert High School. She was also apart of the club team Desert Heat, and played as defense and midfield throughout both programs. She was voted team captain, team president, invited to play for Team Arizona at the National Women’s Lacrosse Tournament in Philadelphia, was awarded MVP from Desert Heat, and attended a variety of tournaments for recruiting. She chose to start her college career being apart of the inaugural program at Gardner-Webb University, which competed in the NCAA D1 bracket. She was named captain there and primarily played defense. After two years of attendance, she transferred to Arizona State University to be apart of their start up NCAA D1 program, and finished her last two years of eligibility there. She currently still attends ASU and is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. She has been coaching for Desert Heat and Desert STIX for the past four years, and is extremely passionate about spreading the love of the game to the youth.
Gary recently retired after 23 years as the head coach of the U. of Pittsburgh’s women’s lacrosse team and before that was the head Men’s coach for nine years. During his time at Pitt they were a 5 Time WCLL Champion, 10 Time National Tournament participant, 2014 WCLA National Champion and 2014 National Coach of the year. He also coached 40 1st Team All-Conference players, 25 2nd Team All-Conference players, 9 1st team WCLA All-Americans and 21 2nd team WCLA All-Americans. He left college coaching with 325 WCLA victories, which is # 1 all time.
While at Pitt, Gary founded the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse League, the largest collegiate club league in the country and one of eight collegiate leagues that makeup the WCLA, which has propelled over 20 colleges and Universities to varsity programs. He served as President for 23 years and is still a member of the board. Gary also was one of the founding members of the Intrepid Lacrosse club, the first travel team in Pittsburgh, Served as the director and recruiting coordinator for 7 years, Coached for 9 years and served on the board of directors for 10 years. The last four years Gary coached for the new True Lacrosse Club that began in Pittsburgh as well as helped out a various high school programs in Pittsburgh. Gary and his wife Michele recently moved to Arizona in June 2018.
Charlotte was born and raised by the beach in San Diego, CA. She started playing lacrosse her Sophomore year of high school, during it's first year of the program. By senior year, she was leading San Diego County with highest score and assists. She was recruited to play Division 1 at Saint Mary's College of California where she played for three years and ended her career early due to injury.
Her true pride and passion comes from her experience in coaching. Charlotte started the first middle school lacrosse program in Solana Beach, just as a high school student. After college and working for several years, she helped build up a program called North Coast Storm Lacrosse in Carlsbad, CA. While working full time in law, she led the program in coaching 1st through 8th grade, ranging from beginners to advanced players. She also started the program's first traveling tournament team. As a coach, she incorporates core values to her practices to encourage athletes in becoming strong young women on and off the field.
She relocated to Arizona in May 2017 and is a yogo instructor at Core Power. She is ecstatic to bring her energy and love of the game to lady laxers!
Anna Belle Reilly
Anna Belle Reilly's lacrosse career started in 4th grade playing in the Desert Stix program. From there she moved on to playing club lacrosse for Desert Heat. She played all 4 years of high school on Notre Dame Preparatory’s varsity team. She was recruited by Wagner College in New York, playing in the North East Conference (NEC), Division 1. During her sophomore year, she was selected Second Team all NEC. She was Captain during the 2018 season and selected First Team all NEC. Wagner won the NEC championship in 2018 and played in the 2018 NCAA tournament She has had significant coaching experience over the past four years and enjoys teaching other girls about the game.
Coach Tracy Gallihugh played 12 years of competitive lacrosse in Michigan including four years at the NCAA D3 Level at Alma College. She was a four year center midfield starter for Alma's Women's lacrosse team. During those four years she was named 1st team all conference twice, second team all-conference once, received multiple offensive and defensive player of the week awards, was nominated for Alma College's Female Athlete of the Year twice, was nationally ranked in multiple categories (including first in the nation for goals in a season, 2014), and currently still holds four MIAA conference records. She graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor's in Science by dual-majoring in Integrated Physiology & Health Science and Psychology. She then moved down to Arizona where she continued her passion for lacrosse by coaching year-round at all levels across the Phoenix area. She is currently entering her second year as Head Coach at Grand Canyon University and at Horizon High School. During her first year as head coach at GCU she took the team to the WCLA National Tournament where they finished 3rd. She is looking forward to continuing to help grow the sport in Arizona. She works hard to help shape successful athletes and outstanding young adults.
Izzabella Jade is originally from South Florida where she started playing lacrosse in 5th grade. In high school, she was captain of her high school lacrosse team and helped the team to win 4 district titles and regional playoffs. She was on Xteam while in high school, which helped her develop her game and desire to play in college. She is currently an Attacker for the Division I lacrosse team at American University in Washington D.C. where she is studying Justice and Law. She hopes to attend ASU Law after she graduates. Izzy loves to be creative and have fun on the field. She hopes to spread her passion for lacrosse to the players she works with. Her favorite hobbies include all things lacrosse, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Lauren Fidati is originally from Bel Air, Maryland where she started her lacrosse and field hockey career as a defender at C. Milton Wright High School. During those four years the Mustangs appeared in 3 state championship tournaments. Lauren was named a Captain for both sports as well as All-County honors her senior year. Lauren traveled with club sports representing H20 Hockey and 543 Lacrosse. With a love for both sports Lauren selected to continue her education and athletic career as a dual- sport starter at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. After college Lauren moved to Alaska to continue her professional career. Lauren relocated to Arizona during the summer of 2016 and wanted to get back involved with lacrosse. She started coaching Dessert Stix in the fall of 2016. She continues to coach Stix and Desert Heat. Lauren is excited to be giving back to the sport that gave her so much over the years as well as growing the sport in Arizona!
Sydney Anderson is originally from Durham, North Carolina where she began playing lacrosse in the 7th grade. She played club lacrosse for Carolina Fever throughout middle school and high school. In high school, she was nominated caption and led her team to four conference championships and their first ever state championship in 2016. She also was named defensive MVP her senior year and was awarded US Lacrosse Academic All-American and US Lacrosse All-American honors. She currently plays Division I lacrosse at the University of Notre Dame, where she is pursing degrees in marketing and psychology. She loves to spend her free time cooking, dancing, and spending time outdoors. Sydney looks forward to growing the game in AZ this summer!
Allison Hilderbrandt is originally from Pennington, NJand has recently moved to Arizona. She played Division 1 lacrosse at George Mason University in Virginia where she was a four year starter playing midfield and attack. She earned All conference honors for the CAA during her senior year and was also named to the All-CAA rookie team as a freshman. She was the leading scorer for GMU and also led the team in draw controls her senior year. She won three consecutive NJ state sectional championship titles in High School where she excelled as a midfielder. Allie has also coached numerous leagues and camps in both VA and NJ through the George Mason youth lacrosse, Trio lacrosse and Campbell lacrosse programs. Allie is currently an Assistant Coach at Desert Mountain High School and she also works full time for Yelp in Scottsdale. She is very excited to be part of women's lacrosse in Arizona.
Madi Hicks started playing lacrosse in high school at Pinnacle High School in Arizona. She also participated in Desert Heat throughout her highschool career. She was on the Woman's National Team for Team Arizona and was seclected as an all-state player. She was nominated for the Arizona all-star team from the year she started playing until graduation. After looking at schools to play lacrosse, she picked Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. She played for the Lindenwood Lions, a nationally ranked team who went to the Final Four at the NCAA II level her first year playing then later transfered to finish out her carrer at ASU's D1 program.
Aly first started playing in 8th grade with the Desert Stix program. She then continued to play for 4 years at Pinnacle High School as well as playing club with Desert Heat. In her high school years, she was a 4-time state champion, received two Goalie of the Year awards along with two Sportswoman of the Year awards. Aly is currently in her Senior year at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri where she is studying Chemistry. Aly is a red-shirt Junior goalie for the nationally ranked NCAA DII women's lacrosse team. In the last three years of attendance, the Lindenwood Lions have appeared in the DII Final Four tournament twice and the Regional tournament all three years. Aly has multiple year of experience in coaching goalies and plans on continuing to grow the sport.
Mary is a Desert Heat Alumnae and has been playing lacrosse for 9 years. She played with Desert Heat for 3 years, 4 years at Xavier and 1 year at ASU. Mary coached for Desert Heat the summer after she graduated from high school before moving on to college. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU in December and her Master’s in Biology from ASU in 2017. Mary also recently completed her training and testing to become a Certified EMT. She is studying for the MCAT in January to become a neurosurgeon for the Air Force with later aspirations to become a pediatric neurosurgeon. She loves lacrosse because of how much the sport and people she met helped her grow which is why she decided to come back to coaching now that her busy schedule has calmed down.
Jo Bauswein is originally from Cleveland, OH where she started playing lacrosse at Kenston High School; and was the first female to receive a lacrosse scholarship to play in college. Jo started as a defender for three years and draw specialist for one year at Notre Dame College in Cleveland. She has coached for Laurel School in Shaker Heights, OH, The University of Utah, True Lacrosse as well as individual clinics and private lessons. Jo continues to play whenever possible and loves passing on her passion of lacrosse to others.