We have all heard stories or seen instances on TV about how sports bring people together. You’ve seen in the Olympics people carrying fellow competitors across the finish line. You have probably witnessed a player helping an opponent up after knocking them down. I have played sports my entire life, just like many of you reading this have. I have played soccer, basketball, and even dabbled in softball before lacrosse was even a sport in my hometown. And while lacrosse was the last sport I learned to play, it was the only one to truly seep into my soul. It wasn’t just the pace of the game or the fun stick tricks you can learn (even though those things did really help make me love the game). It was the community that made the difference for me. A community that has continued to welcome me with open arms everywhere I go, regardless of the level I played or coached at. It’s a small world where everyone truly knows everyone.
I am what I consider new to the lacrosse community. My experience is not one of the typical Baltimore or Long Island kid. I started playing in high school. I didn’t do club lacrosse and I didn’t travel to tournaments all over the country to be seen by college coaches. I played for the brand-new program my high school started when I was just a freshman. I went to college at Marquette University and NARPed it up (Non-Athletic Regular Person) for three years before the college I attended announced that they would be starting a lacrosse program. As a senior in college I tried out for the team and made it as a walk-on. It was at that moment that I was first introduced to what the lacrosse community is.
For the first time at a sporting event, I had a team tailgate after a game. I realize that may sound crazy to you but never had I seen parents, families, and friends come together after every single game to give us food and take some time out of a busy schedule to be with one another. It created a family environment amongst everyone. There were times we even held a tailgate with the opposing team. I noticed that there were always people that knew someone on the opposing team. While during the game they competed, and cheered against one another, when the final whistle blew everyone came together and showed love and support for each other. They celebrated each other’s accomplishments and laughed about mistakes and blunders that happened on the field.
I then became the graduate assistant at the college I played at. I was taken under the wing of my head coach who gave me glimpse into what college coaching is like. And while there were times when the work wasn’t so exciting (reimbursement forms, photocopying receipts, doing laundry, etc.), she became a mentor who I still talk to on a regular basis today. She let me in on practice planning, helped me understand the recruiting process (since I never experienced that myself), and was amazing enough to help me get a scholarship to come to the IWLCA Annual Meetings. It was so cool to see how everyone works together to help grow our sport. Every single person I met had a passion for making the game they love the best it could possibly be.
My lacrosse journey then took me across the pond to England, where I worked for the English Lacrosse Association as a School Coaching Officer. I lived at a boarding school teaching lacrosse to kids ages 12-18. I learned a whole new set of rules and new ways to run things. The people I worked with taught me so much and were always there to help me with anything I needed, coaching or personally. They, again, showed me how lacrosse can bring people together and how supportive the community is. When Brexit became very real for me and a bunch of other Americans I know, the lacrosse world in England was signing petitions to keep us Yanks there. My players were sending me emails and my coworkers were by side doing everything they could to keep me aboard. I am still friends with them all and talk to them on a regular basis. I cheer them on and am looking forward to watching them as the host nation in the World Cup this summer.
I am now at the University of Tampa, where I am continuing to learn about lacrosse and becoming even more a part of this community. All the coaches I have met since I started in September have been nothing but helpful and welcoming. It’s a group of people that really do work together to make the lacrosse experience the best it can be for current and future players. It is a community I am honored to be part of and it makes me excited for what my future in this sport holds.