A Celebration of Life - Sarah Le

To all whose lives have been touched by Sarah Le,

It is with a heavy heart that I have the honor of beginning the celebration of the life of Sarah Le, as Sarah passed away this Friday evening, June 13 2014. Those of us who feel the closest to Sarah choose to celebrate her life, rather than dwell on her death, and we ask that you do the same. While we will all mourn the loss of our dear friend, we are more thankful that she chose to share a part of her life with us and want to celebrate the time that we were fortunate enough to spend with her. Therefore, I ask that those who knew Sarah please share a glimpse of how Sarah touched your lives. I would like to be the first to do this.

Sarah came to Austin, Texas from her home state of Colorado about 6 years ago. She helped found and mentor FRC team 3320, “Miracles and Machines”, out of a troubled East-Side school. Under her (and her fellow mentors) leadership, the team won the well-deserved Rookie Inspiration Award. She was a mentor for the team for several more years, until she decided to focus more on helping to grow the FIRST organization and help support the efforts of FIRST in Texas and nationally. She was a Head Referee for the FIRST Tech Challenge competition in Austin, she shared her experience in FIRST LEGO League, and began her “reign” as a referee in the FIRST Robotics Competition. She was also a coordinator for the first-ever Austin FRC Kickoff event, an instrumental part of running the Texas Robot Roundup (the first organized off-season FRC event in Texas), and generally an incredibly fun person to be around. Sarah selflessly volunteered her time at every opportunity she could, eventually being a referee at multiple Texas FRC regionals in the past couple years and at the Championship event. In 2014, Sarah was the Head Referee at the Alamo, Lubbock, and Dallas FRC Regionals AND was a Head Referee on the Curie Field at Championships. The highlight of her FRC career, as she said, was being able to be a referee on the Einstein field this year.

Outside of robotics (is that possible?) I will remember Sarah pulling a Royal Flush on her first-ever night of playing Texas Hold’em at my house. “Does this flush beat your hand?” was her question, as we all sat with our mouths wide open. She loved the race cars at K1 Speed here in Austin, loved her boyfriend Joe Daily, and was an avid videogame player.

The last thing I physically said to Sarah was that I was absolutely going to be a ScoreKeeper at the Texas Robot Roundup this year, as Sarah was the volunteer coordinator and Head Referee for the event. I received an email from her on Wednesday discussing the fact that she wanted to wait until after TRI before deciding upon any rule changes for TRR.

I will miss Sarah’s boundless energy for FIRST and anything related to it. I always thought that I was hard-core in my volunteer levels with FIRST, but she showed me just what hard-core really meant. I am fortunate that I was allowed to spend time with Sarah Le, to be able to get to know her, and to see her succeed. I will always count myself as a very lucky person to have been able to be a part of her journey.

I’m sorry to hear Sarah is no longer with us. She was a great person, enthusiastic and very professional. I remember her from the Alamo regional. This particular year, I went with another mentors from team LamBot and also volunteers for the Mexican regional, I had the chance to ask for advice about how to ref since I was going to be referee for the first time in my life. I spoke to her after the final match, she was really tired but still had the intention to help a fellow referee. She gave me her email address and sent me her notes about the game and some advice about how to be a good referee.

She took her job very seriously, she had great respect for the teams and the effort they put into their robots. That’s one of the things I learnt from her. She show me what being a good referee is about, I thank her for that. My condolences to her family and friends. Sarah, you will be missed.

I personally am still in shock over this. While I never had the chance to meet her personally, we had talked a lot online and had sent each other packages at times. Sarah is one of the most giving people I have met through FIRST; whether it was her time to help students/teams or actual things people were in need of, she always had put others before herself.

I will always remember her excitement when she found out she would be a Head Ref at Champs this year and how excited she got over being able to work on Einstein. I will always regret not meeting her in person and being able to geek out over our common interests.

Sarah, you are loved by so many in this community and have affected the lives of so many more. You will truly be missed by everyone <3

I learned of Sarah’s death in the middle of WIWI and was a blubbering mess the rest of the day but I carried on and let people at the event who obviously did not know Sarah what an inspiration and a tremendous leader she was.
I will miss her terribly.
Rest in peace Sarah.

This is a real loss.

Does anybody know when and where the funeral will be held?

It was a pleasure to work with her at TRR last year. She was and is a great person to have meant and be around. She will be greatly missed.
My thoughts go out to her family.

Sarah was a wonderful and passionate young woman. I will miss her greatly.

I hope you’ve found peace, perhaps maybe even field-side up there.


Never met Sarah in real life, but following her posts on Facebook was inspiring to see how excited she was about being head ref on Curie this year.

RIP Sarah Lee…

You were our teams favorite Head Ref and you will be missed greatly by us. We want to thank you for the comedic response you gave Marcus (dallas MC) when he misinterpreted the alliance selection rules. Also thank you for taking the time to explain to me and my other teammates on certain rules. You really helped us by explaining what we were doing wrong and giving examples of both right and wrong. You will be greatly missed by our team

I worked with Sarah last year at Lubbock, as a random California GA who didn’t really know anyone out in Texas. Sarah was incredibly gracious and welcoming, sharing her knowledge with the training referees and experience with Texas teams with me. After the event we started talking more, and I got to know the depth of her passion for FIRST, nerd things, and having fun in life. We ended up working Galileo together last year at Championships, and we both ended up on Einstein through a series of happy accidents.

To hear this year that she was a volunteer of the year recipient, head referee for Curie, and referee on Einstein, I was so happy that Sarah was getting the recognition she deserved for all her hard work.

Sarah, I will greatly miss your energy, enthusiasm, and smiles. I am so happy that I was able to know you.

Im sorry to hear of her passing, my deepest condolence to her family


I didn’t know Sarah, and had never met her in person. But her posts on the Head Ref forum showed her insight, dedication and caring. I’m sure she’ll be missed. My condolences to her family.

I had the great fortune of getting to know Sarah over the past 6 months. I regret not knowing her longer. From my limited time getting to know her, Sarah seemed to to exude happiness and energy toward everyone she met. She was a joy to have helping at competitions and would always stay and help tear down the field, even though she did not have to. She and her music stand were regularly hit by errant truss shots.

I broke the news to a few friends who were drivers in the past. They agreed with me that Sarah was the best ref they had the pleasure of working with.

She pushed us to be better people than we though we could be and to build a better program than we could concieve. This is a great loss to Texas FIRST and to FIRST as a whole. She will be dearly missed by all those who knew her.

If we have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants, even shorter ones.

Sarah was always a great fan of Jane Doll. She adored her and would offer to show her the sights at the different events. Usually, it was from a referee’s perspective at the Championship event. I am blessed to have so many wonderful photos of their adventures together. Lots of FIRSTers love Jane Doll but Sarah adored her. I think the bond was their fondness for mischief-making. :slight_smile:

Sarah came to Austin with a great desire to learn, to grow, to share her experience, and to become a part of the energy that was driving the growth of teams in our area. In meetings, sometimes she would talk but, a lot of times, she would listen and then make suggestions or comments to me later. I liked that. She would show up, dressed in a pretty sundress with a shy smile, making the rest of us look like, well, robotics nerds.

When the Kick-Off formed, she was over the moon. Just over the moon. At one point, Jess and I just looked at each other and laughed; her energy was a match for Jess’s. When TRR was forming, she was intent on learning, listening, and making it happen. She was not afraid to be mentored by mentors. I think that is one of my favorite qualities that Sarah shared with us: she was not afraid to be mentored by mentors. At the same time, she could be stubborn and have an opinion that differed. What we learned to do, was to listen very carefully to what she was saying, and understand it. Taking the time to do that was always golden.

She was a tease and enjoyed fun and mischief. Harmless but very funny. She loved her partner, Joe. They worked in synch and it was fun watching that happen.

I am devastated by this news. We’ve lost a young woman with so much potential and such a bright spirit. I sorrow with Joe and with her family. This is heartbreaking for our FIRST community.

Peace be with you, Sarah. Jane Doll will carry on with the mischief-making in your honor.


I will always remember Sarah as a staple of my FIRST experience. She’s just always been around in one form or another, brightening whatever room she occupied with her smile and enthusiasm, pushing everyone else through. She helped to make every event run smoother, and from her snarky remarks at the microphone to her snarky Facebook posts, she was just as entertaining as inspirational. She has touched the lives of everyone she came into contact with, even relative passersby like myself. I am not looking forward to the coming elephants in the room, but I know the rest of us can pull together and work hard to keep FIRST an organization Sarah Le would be proud of.

We love you, Sarah. <3

I met Sarah my freshman year of college at the Colorado School of Mines back in the 2007-2008 school year. We became good friends as we were both FIRST Alumni and members of the Robotics club at Mines. We hung out with a group of friends and played guitar hero and watched movies… I remember we went to a haunted house on Halloween and a laser tag lock in… I left Mines in 2010 to finish school back in my home state of Washington, but I saw Sarah again at the FIRST championship in 2011. We’d fallen out of touch mostly since then, but we remained facebook friends and I’d always see her refereeing at various competitions as I watched the live feeds. She was a good friend and a dedicated member of the FIRST community. I will miss her, but I’ll always remember her friendship and the impact she had on my life.

The news of Sarah’s passing hit me like a punch in the stomach. I first worked with her at the championship last year, scoring the pyramid goals on Einstein. We didn’t talk much, but there was a strong feeling of mutual respect, working the biggest stage in FIRST. It wasn’t until this year when we were selected as championship head referees that I really got to know her. Her energy and enthusiasm were both boundless and contagious. As we worked out the details of calls and scenarios for the championship, her passion and desire to do right by the teams made it clear that she really “gets it”, and embodies everything FIRST stands for. Despite all of the difficulties referees faced this season, she came in to the championship each morning with a smile and a twinkle in her eye, ready to make good things happen.

I know her legacy will live on in all of the lives that she touched, including my own. My deepest sympathies to all of FIRST in Texas and Colorado, especially to Joe and those closest to her. If there is anything I can do to help in any way, please let me know!

Unbelievably sad news. My thoughts go out to her family and friends. Just shocked right now :frowning:

This is terrible to hear, I’m completely shocked right now. I had the extreme pleasure of working under Sarah on Curie this year, and she made it a wonderful experience. Her dedication and passion in making sure that we were all comfortable and confidant throughout the event was inspiring. I was truly looking forward to seeing her at champs again next year. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of Sarah’s family and friends. FIRST lost one of its greats today.