On Sunday, March 24th, the San Diego-based Adrenaline team received a phone call from good friend and Utah Starz head, Dan Mannix, informing us that senior defenseman Matt Jungemann had tragically passed away at the age of 18.
Over the past decade, the Starz program has created an infrastructure across the western United States that is unparalleled in the sport of lacrosse. This network of the game’s elite players goes far beyond what transpires on the playing field, as members of both the Adrenaline and Starz organization have cherished the opportunity to get to know some of the brightest young men and women across more than the eight states represented by the Starz regional programs. It is because of this intense interconnectivity that a loss of any member of this fraternity sends shockwaves across the entire country. Collectively, everyone affiliated with any Adrenaline or Starz program genuinely feels like they have lost a family member.
The shock of Matt’s death is a harsh reality that only time will heal. While it is often impossible to comprehend how such dismal circumstances can befall teenagers with as much promise and hope as a young man like Matt, their untimely deaths do provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the quality of character that they embodied during their time with us.
Adrenaline President & CMO, Alex Cade, reflected on the great young man we have all come to know over the last five years. “It has been a sad couple of weeks for us at Adrenaline with the loss of a few of our family members all in a short amount of time. They were all far too young, which makes it infinitely sadder. Matt was a long time beloved member of our family. Many in the lacrosse world knew him for his on-field exploits as a top tier player. But more importantly, many more knew him for the great kid he was off the field,” said Cade.
As young men and women rise up through the Adrenaline system, the most promising young talent quickly ascends through the ranks, gaining notoriety from our Adrenaline Evaluation Team (AET) at tryouts for our marquee programs, recruiting exhibitions, and off-season tournaments with their respective Starz programs. Matt was the type of player whose relaxed and cool demeanor off the field drew you in immediately. For me in particular, it was that casual outlook and kind attitude that made his off the field conduct stick with me as much as it did, because it was such a harsh contrast to the way he played the game. A kid who as a defenseman, had such a signature style with a tenacity both in pursuit of his opponent’s top offensive threats as well as a ferocity while carrying the ball into the offensive end, our AET has regarded Matt as one of the premier up and coming talents in our system for quite some time now.
“I don’t think there has been an All-Star roster from any of our premier recruiting events in the past four years that Matt didn’t earn his way onto,” reflected Adrenaline Recruiting Director, Jono Zissi. “Ask anyone in Utah, along with anyone in the know across the western lacrosse landscape, and they will know the name Matt Jungemann for his exploits on the field. He exemplifies everything we talk about when describing the prototypical Starz player. I had the opportunity to watch and coach this young man since he was in middle school and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time I got to spend with him. He was a truly remarkable player and even a more remarkable person and words cannot express how much we will miss him.”
Far and away one of, if not the most talented players in Juan Diego Catholic High School and Utah Starz history, Matt earned all star honors at the Adrenaline Shootout, Adrenaline Showcase and the High Rollers event. He also frequently received notoriety for his play on media outlets such as Inside Lacrosse and ESPN, and was to be honored this June with the coveted Adrenaline All American distinction as one of the western United State’s premier high school senior players.
California native and West Coast Starz attackman, Lucas Gradinger, had difficulty wrapping his head around this tragedy. “I’ve grown up playing with and against Matt over the last five years and had the honor of getting to know him during that time. His easy-going demeanor was contagious. He could get along with anybody and I'd be hard pressed to find a single person who wasn’t drawn to his personality. He is everything I could ever want out of a teammate and a friend.”
This past fall, Matt was asked to represent the Adrenaline Tropics in one of the most prestigious annual off-season tournaments on the east coast. “We went 6-0 en route to a tournament championship in what is one of my favorite lacrosse memories to date,” said Gradinger. “We beat an incredibly talented Maryland Roughriders squad in the finals and the bottom line is, Matt single-handedly made it happen. I always admired him for how slick he was with a long pole. He was just fun to watch. And facing a talented Maryland team filled with D1 talent staring back at us, he set the tone for the game from the opening whistle and led us to a championship. All of us who had the pleasure of getting to know him over the years will miss him deeply and we will always keep a piece of Matt with us going forward. His memory will not be forgotten.”
Stories like this are no surprise to anyone who met Matt. He will forever be remembered as a beloved member of our Adrenaline family and we will work to find a way to pay tribute to his life and serve his memory. Matt is survived by his parents, John and Li,sa as well as his sister Callie.
Thank you to Mel Ota and Silver Crane Photography for these great pictures.