My 10-hour drive to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania gave me a lot of time to think about my upcoming weekend. I had no idea what to expect. The uncertainty of the weekend worried me. The only detail I knew going into practice of the IWLCA North-South Senior All-Star game was that it started at 2 pm… and it was an hour long. I didn’t know if we were warming up 15 minutes prior to practice time or if we were supposed to bring our own balls. This was completely different than what I expected and what I was used to. At Grand Valley State we had a packing list and itinerary for every trip. But as I soon learned, it was set this way so we could make the experience our own. I arrived to practice over a half-hour early with my former teammate Carolyn Kraus. We had plenty of time to meet our new teammates and we were fortunate to have a great group of players on our team. We quickly learned each other’s names, what position we played, and where we went to school. The small talk continued all throughout practice, and by the end I felt like I had known my teammates for years.
The game didn’t go as we had hoped. We lost to the South team but it was a great game. My teammates played with incredible heart and tenacity. I remember watching some of these girls go after a ground ball or defending in the ride and I was so amazed at how athletic and aggressive they were. Even though we had only played with each other previously for one hour, we had great chemistry on the field. We didn’t connect on every single pass and catch, or score every goal, but it was some beautiful lacrosse to watch and to play.
After the game my teammate Taylor Hayes said a quote that really stuck with me. She said, “In the end it doesn’t matter the outcome of the game, but it’s who you’re with.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. I found it true that Saturday and every game I played in my college career. Although winning is always the best feeling, your teammates are the ones there when you win and when you lose. At the end of the game, there were no tears and no sad faces. Instead we hugged and said how much fun we had and how great it was to play together. I’m not even sure if I’ll see any of those women again in my life, but I know we would all agree that we had an amazing experience together and it was a great way to end our collegiate careers.
For some of my teammates the North-South game was the end of their weekend in Pennsylvania. But for me, the next stop was the IWLCA All-American Banquet. The banquet itself was indescribable. I felt so grateful and honored to be in a room full of the nation’s top lacrosse players and coaches. It was insane to think about all the skill and talent that sat together all in one room. I ate dinner next to IWLCA president and GVSU head women’s lacrosse coach Alicia Groveston, and my former teammate Erika Neumen. We had so much fun being able to talk about life outside of lacrosse and to also look back and reflect on the great times he had together.
The keynote speaker for the night was Kellie Young, the head coach at Louisville. Coach Young talked to us about each season as a collegiate lacrosse player and how to attack each of your four years. She stressed the importance of a simple message: change creates opportunity. Change is all around us and sometimes uncertainty can create uncomfortableness. Coach Young told us to use change to our advantage. For the freshmen and sophomores, use it as motivation to work harder to get yourself on the field. For the juniors, use it as an opportunity to prepare yourself for your last season. For the seniors, use change to discover who you are and what you are truly passionate about. Find your true self. The All-American Banquet served as the end of my lacrosse career and I now find myself experiencing the change Coach Young spoke about. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that are ahead me and am so thankful to have a great ending to my lacrosse career at the IWLCA All-American Banquet and the Senior All-Star game.
Check back next week to read Coach Kelly Young’s All-American Banquet address to the student-athletes that were honored.