After what felt like a lifetime waiting all day for our 7:30 pm game against Northwestern, the Terps finally got on the bus to make our way to Homewood field at Johns Hopkins, this year’s sight of the Final Four. Both nervous and excited, we knew this could be our last game of the season, and for us seniors the last game of our Maryland careers. It was as expected an exciting, bittersweet, and incredibly nerve-racking day. We boarded the bus with all the confidence that being a Terp gives you, knowing we were well prepared and more than ready to take on this thrilling night.
As she did before we left for every away game, Cathy hit us with the pre-game checklist: “Does everyone have their uniform, sticks, cleats, mouthguards, goggles, tanning towelettes, goalie equipment, winning attitude and anything that will make you run fast?!” Once everyone made sure their bus buddy and little/big Terps were present, we were off. If one thing was certain Eric (the best bus driver ever) and the Terps knew what the plans were and where they needed to be at all times…we can thank Mrs. “Tailgate Extraordinaire” Cummings for that. From the second we woke up until pulling away from the hotel everyone’s phones were constantly lighting up with texts from their parents, alums, friends, family, etc. Supplying endless support like:
“LET’S GO. As a team, as a unit, as a support system, and as a family. There is nothing stronger than the Maryland family. You guys are playing the sport you love…in tough moments, look up…look at us…we’re ALL behind you. I love you all so much and I’m so happy to call you my friends, teammates, and Terps” – Alice Mercer
“…You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to and I know you will absolutely crush it. Go have fun, put on a show, and love every single second. You have all of Terp Nation cheering you on!!!! FINAL FOUR TIME IS TERP TIME” – Taylor Cummings
“Take a look around when you walk out and just take it all in. The atmosphere and memories are one of the most amazing things you will experience! Lean on the people to your left and right and just have the time of your life!!…” – Nadine Hadnagy
Having such role models and friends who have been in our shoes in the past cheering for us and inspiring us is something so special the Maryland family shares. We’re still not sure if our families and alums really know how much we appreciate those texts, so if you’re reading this: thank you!! Now back to the game — the atmosphere on the bus was electrifying as everyone was itching to get on the field. First things first we connect to the aux and explore for any and all songs that will keep the vibes high. When everyone heard if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. Would you capture it. Or just let it slip? as Eminem’s throwback hit “Lose Yourself” related to all of us in this position, everyone took off their headphones and sang to the classic that started our final four journey. We continued to bounce from a throwbacks playlist to rave music, and of course ending with “America’s Sweetheart” by Elle King. It’s crazy how even though time has passed some songs just make you feel a certain way…are we right!! Lose Yourself and America Sweetheart are two of those songs, as the whole bus knew every word.
We mention all of this because this blog is really to recognize our incredible alumni, who created the foundation that Maryland culture still follows today. It’s definitely something you never really understand until you’re old and washed up. You’re deeply saddened at the fact that you’ll never be able to put on that jersey again with your teammates and play the game we love. Yet you bounce from one family to another, knowing that mass of people that were at every one of your games screaming and cheering you on is your new home. There have been a lot of things that have changed at Maryland throughout the years, but one thing that has stayed constant is the loving culture in the lacrosse program. This sense of family that Cathy was a part of when she played and has since instilled as a coach is something so special and makes you proud to be a Terp. Any way… before we all start crying, let’s try and pull this thing back to Hopkins and the Final Four!
As we continue to jam, read motivational texts, and get focused for the game, all you hear from the front of the bus is “Oh my God! Are those the alums?” As we pulled up to the stoplight before the turn into Homewood Field, a crowd that felt like 1,000 Terps fans were screaming, waving and cheering at the top of their lungs. For a moment, our bus went silent as we took everything in. In a time full of nerves and excitement, seeing hundreds of people outside the stadium showing their support makes you take a step back. It just makes you appreciate the program you’re apart of and all the lifelong memories and friends you’ve made over the years. In the midst of all the alumni outside our bus running around, including Bairre Reilly doing splits in the road, Alice Mercer and Brandi Padilla bouncing off the bus and even parents making the daring leap off curbs and suffering an ankle sprain. Along with waving Maryland fans and screaming family members everyone on the bus was almost in tears at how amazing that moment felt. It only took a second longer for everyone on the bus to start screaming and jumping because we simply could not believe what we were seeing. It was a moment that none of us will ever forget. To see people that played for Maryland in the years past make their way to Hopkins to support us is what Maryland lacrosse is all about. It is something that was not made overnight. It is something that has created a legacy that we are proud to be a part of. We’ll say it once, and we’ll say it again, Maryland lacrosse is GS (good stuff).
So fast forward, it’s almost time to leave the locker room and take the field. We were dancing and laughing at all the unique and wild dance moves people were throwing out. Maddie Sanchez with the robot body roll, Lil J (Julia Salandra) with all the professional tricks and Katherine Golladay with anything to get laughs. Cathy then came in and filled us in that the prior game was going into overtime, so the party continued. As Cathy always said, “expect nothing, be ready for anything.” At this point all we wanted to do was take the field, but anytime spent with our best friends are memories we cherish. Finally, it was time and all we had hoped for was that some fans stayed for what turned into a late-night fiasco. And OH BOY did they as the first thing we saw when we left the locker room and entered the field was our alums, and that’s when we knew that weekend was going to be special. The semifinal didn’t disappoint, as right before the opening draw the 90 second shot clock broke and added an extra 30 minutes onto our wait. We can tell you for a fact that during that break our alums didn’t miss a beat. They continued to chant and scream players, coaches, and trainers names all night. Rumor has it they never got up to use the bathroom or grab food/drinks. Who would’ve thought that when the game actually started they had more and even louder screaming in them. It was truly impressive as we would lose our voices within 5 minutes. Our alums encouragement and positivity got us through that night.
Picture the same scenario just two days later, on an even hotter day with the sun shining bright. Playing a great team that had beaten us the previous year, and of course the natural pressure and nerves that come with playing in a National Championship game. Even more fans and family members showed up to welcome us, but most importantly the alums were back. Even more of them. Screaming louder than ever. Looking around the whole stadium, seeing seas of red scattered all over the place is a picture we’ll remember forever. But being able to look behind the bench and see our amazing alums and family members was such a calming factor that carried us all through.
Growing up watching our alums play and looking up to them as role models, and now having them cheer us on is something really special. It makes us play for something so much bigger than ourselves. As a Terp, we play for all of those before us who have allowed us to be where we are. One of the most memorable times of our lives will forever be the moment we got to hoist the National Championship trophy towards them and allow all of them to celebrate with us. First stop of course is the goalie and defense to celebrate, but quickly after is the fastest 50-yard sprint our bodies can handle (so not very fast) where we dove right into the sea of alums. Tears streaming down each person’s face as everyone is so proud of one another.
After the weekend, we got a chance to talk to the alums…at least the ones that still had their voices! We learned that being an alum is no walk in the park. One alumnus said something that really hit home for us. She has gotten to witness two different people wear her Terps jersey number over the years. Next year she will get to watch another person take the pride of the jersey and embrace it. This alum has only missed two final four games since she has graduated. THAT is what Maryland is all about. It is about graduating and continuing the love and excitement for the next generation of players because you have been in those shoes, you’ve run that deadly run-test, and you’ve won those championships. You understand how much it means to play for Maryland. It is one of those things that if you get lucky enough to be a part of a group like this – you want to stay in it forever. You want to be at every game and every Final Four possible.
Like we said, a lot about Maryland has changed and will continue to change. There will be a new #11 and a new #34 next year. There may be new ways of doing things, new bumps and new reasons to celebrate. But when you really look at Maryland’s culture, it is the same. It is something that after you graduate you want to still be a part of because you love it so much and it has become your extended family. It is because of our alumni that Maryland culture will never change and why everyone continues to stay a part of our Maryland life. And for that, we want to say THANK YOU, we love and appreciate you more than you know, and we can’t wait to join you in the stands next year! OATAAT (which of course stands for, Once a Terp, Always a Terp)! 🐢❤️
#34 and #11 signing off. 👍 👍