As a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina, I have been able to relax for a couple of weeks and reflect back on my time at Carolina. Throughout my past four years as a student athlete, I was fortunate enough to be a part of three ACC championships, a National Championship, and two gold medal championships with Team USA. Regardless of these accomplishments, there’s so much more that I learned from the sport of lacrosse. I firmly believe that some of these life lessons have shaped me into the player and person that I am today. I would like to take this time to share some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned and hope to encourage any of you who are about to enter the next chapter of your lives or even those who are continuing your college careers.
First, understand that every time you step on the lacrosse field, your biggest competition should be against yourself. Never show up to practice with the goal of just being better than those who surround you. Compete each day to be your best individual self. Your teammates should be just that: your teammates, never your competition. When you show up to practice with the goal of making yourself better, you will naturally elevate your individual play, and that of those around you, ultimately paving the way for your team’s success.
Second, be ready to accept any role that is asked of you. Your number one goal should be to not only be the best version of yourself, but also to be the best teammate you can. That can come in many shapes and forms whether it’s being a facilitator, being a scorer, or even being your teammates’ biggest supporter on the sidelines. There will be times where you will be mentally and physically challenged and things won’t always go the way you expect. You may also be put in situations that you have never experienced or expected but a true leader and a great teammate embraces each role as it is presented. As you continue your lacrosse career, you will be playing with the best of the best and the truly successful people are those who possess the intangibles.
My freshman year I was faced with adversity and put in an unfamiliar situation. I was fortunate enough to receive playing time however having been surrounded by such talent hindered my confidence. I had to learn where to fit in, and what my role was. After two season ending injuries of my teammates, I was faced with the challenge to step up and fill those voids. Unexpectedly, I had to switch my role from coming off the bench to being a key contributor. While it would have been easy for me to become complacent and just ride out the rest of my freshman year I had to step up to the challenge because that is what my team needed. Sometimes being the best teammate that you can be is better than any goal you will ever score.
Third, practice isn’t just the time spent out on the field with your coaches. In order to become the best individual that you can be, you must take the extra time outside of assigned practice hours in order to improve your game. Whether it’s coming to practice 30 minutes early to get extra shots in or staying later to work on footwork, it is extremely important to sharpen up your skills in all aspects of the game. There is ALWAYS room for improvement.
Finally, cherish every moment that you have. These past four years were the fastest four years of my life and I am forever grateful to have attended the university of my dreams. The wins and losses will be memories that will stick with you but the relationships that you build will last a lifetime. Furthermore, these relationships and chemistry off the field can be more valuable than the talent that is on the field. The special thing about being a part of a team is that you gain more than just friends, you gain family.