Founder & Board Chair: Doug Appleton
Doug is the Founder and President of the Firehawks Lacrosse Club. He started the Firehawks in 2005, and it has quickly grown to over 400 players, 60 coaches and 22 teams, and is considered one of the premier youth lacrosse clubs in Northern California.
Doug has been involved with lacrosse for over 45 years, either as a player, coach, equipment manufacturer, lacrosse entrepreneur or club administrator, starting in his hometown of Severna Park, Maryland, where he played organized lacrosse from the age of six.
Doug played defensive midfield at Brown University where he won the Ivy League championship in 1985 and was named All Ivy. After college, he played for the Maryland Lacrosse Club for eight years where he won two national championships and was selected to try out for the US National Team in 1994. Doug also played professional lacrosse for the Washington Wave in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League. Doug currently plays on several post-collegiate club teams and competes in national and international tournaments at the masters and grand masters levels.
In 2008 Doug was selected as the US Lacrosse National Double-Goal Lacrosse Coach of the Year. In 2009 and 2010 he was selected as a finalist for Positive Coaching Alliance’s Youth Coach of the Year for all sports, one of fifty coaches chosen nationally out of four million youth coaches. In 2017, Doug was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Northern California Chapter.
Executive Director: Mark diTargiani
Mark’s lacrosse career started at Concord-Carlisle High School where he was an All Scholastic midfielder in 1981. diTar continued playing at Wesleyan University where he etched his name in the record books as the programs leading scorer and representative in the New England All-Star game.
After his college career ended his coaching passion began. diTar started coaching lacrosse at the Landon School in Bethesda, MD with legendary coach Rob Bordley. After moving out west, he played lacrosse for the SF Lacrosse Club. When he moved south, he coached La Jolla High School and was named the SDCLA Coach of the Year in 1993.
Since the mid 2000’s diTar has been a fixture in the Mid Peninsula lacrosse scene. From starting, and directing the Firehawks “Firestarters” program, to most recently leading a number of Firehawks and other young guns of the area as head coach of SF 10U for ADVNC, and taking the reigns of Sequoia HS, where his efforts earned him the SCVLA El Camino Coach of the Year in 2019
Boys Program Director: Ryan Sage
Ryan was raised in Kelowna, BC, a small town on the west coast of Canada. Like most Canadians, Ryan learned the game of lacrosse as a box player and later transitioned to field lacrosse to have an opportunity to play in college. He attended school at Mars Hill University, where he earned his BSc and was a two time Academic All American, 2015 SAC champion, and received the Male Scholar Athlete award for the highest gpa of all senior athletes.
Since 2014 Ryan has been competing internationally as a member of the Scottish National Team. He has played in two World Championships, and one European Championship with the Scotland side and remains active on their roster preparing for the 2023 Worlds in LA. It was actually a training camp for Team Scotland, hosted by the gracious Firehawks families, that brought Ryan to the Bay Area in 2017. What started as a guest coach of sorts turned into him forming a connection with the kids and truly finding a passion for coaching.
Ryan is the Head Coach at Crystal Springs Upper School and lives in Redwood City with his wife, Cheyenne, and their four-legged family.
Girls Program Director: Steph Sanders
Steph was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and she began playing lacrosse at a very young age.
Steph was a Division I athlete for the University of Denver, where she had a stand out career and was among the most prolific attackers the program had seen. At the time of her departure she held the number two spot in all time points for the program. Staying put in Colorado after graduation, Steph became the head coach at Colorado Academy and immediately found success. She coached there for 5 years, and lead her girls to 5 straight State Championships
She moved to the Bay Area in 2019 and coaches varsity lacrosse for Sacred Heart Prep and the STEPS California 2023's.
Steph currently lives in Atherton with her husband, Payton, a former lacrosse player for the University of Denver, and their three young boys - Cash, Teddy, and Tucker