I picked up my first lacrosse stick when I was five. My dad was coaching practice in the gym, and I was trying to play catch. I wasn’t ready for the ball to come back and instead of catching it with my stick, it nailed me in the stomach. I remember telling my dad I never wanted to play again.
But here I am 16 years later, a DII athlete in my final season of lacrosse.
Lacrosse has turned into more than just a sport for me, it’s a lifestyle. I’ve been playing in an organized league since I was in fourth grade. My parents started driving me all over the place to play in my summer league games, on top of driving to practice a couple of times a week. The summer league turned into playing in middle school. I played one year before I was brought up to junior varsity in eighth grade, followed by varsity in tenth grade. This was when I knew I had the potential to play in college if I kept working hard.
So I did work hard and started looking for colleges to play at. I realized I couldn’t imagine life without lacrosse because how much playing means to me. Lacrosse is something that seems embedded in me and something that runs through my veins. It think it’s probably because it has taught me so much about life.
It taught me to never stop your feet when you’re getting double teamed because once you stop moving your feet, you can no longer go forward and will most likely lose the ball. You have to keep your head up and keep going, no matter how hard it seems at the time.
I learned you will fail on your way to success. I can’t explain the number of times I’ve been behind the goal trying to feed the ball to my teammate and had it shoved back in my face. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a one on one with the goalie and shot it into her stick instead of scoring. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been trusted to make a huge play and failed. Failing is inevitable, but you can’t let it stop you.
Everyday you are presented with a new opportunity to get better and the only person you should try to be better than is yourself. It doesn’t matter what my opponent is doing at practice, it matters what the face looking back at me in the mirror is doing. You are your own worst enemy, but you also hold the keys to your own your success.
Encouragement and positivity will help get you through anything. It will help your teammates get through running sprints and it will help you succeed as a team. When you wonder why you’re putting in these hours, think about the girls by your side and know that you’re doing this for your team. Attitude can make all the difference.
Most importantly, I learned you can’t do anything alone. You might be the best player on your team using one of the best lacrosse sticks, but that doesn’t mean you could be where you are without your teammates. One person can’t do everything, so when you’re getting beat on the field (or in life) call for help when you need it.
Lacrosse is so much more than a sport. It has led me to an incredible family that I couldn’t have been luckier to be a part of. Your teammates really do become your family. They are the people who are always there for you. You eat with them, you live with them, you suffer through training with them, and they understand the struggle that you go through, especially when no one else does.
It’s so much more than just a game with people who have the same interest as you. It’s the hours you spend together every day, sprinting through the end line together. It’s the way you cheer each other on as the losing team does their punishment during practice. It’s the teammates who wake up at 5 a.m. with you and the exhausting lifts you have to do together after practice. It’s the enjoyment you feel doing something right that you’ve been working on over and over. It’s your coach being proud of the hard work you put in day in and day out, knowing they are pushing you to be better. It’s the upperclassmen that welcomed you in your freshman year and made you feel like you belonged there, and it’s doing the same for the freshman coming in each year.
It’s trying to be better for your teammates because you know they are doing the same for you. It’s feeling the triumph of winning a close game and knowing you couldn’t have done it without your teammates. It’s the memories made on and off the field. It’s knowing you always have people to count on and a family surrounding you forever. It’s having a burning passion for something you love to do with the people you love.
The things I have learned from it are going to stick with me for a lifetime. Lacrosse has taught me leadership, discipline, dedication, accountability, and teamwork. It has made me into the person I am today.
Featured image via Unsplash