More than five years ago, I was a freshman in high school. I was in a totally different universe, migrating from a tiny private school to an unknown world where everyone was taller, older, and more sophisticated. I had a few friends, but I hadn’t yet found my place. It was early in the semester, and I remember passing by a flyer that read, “Chicks with sticks… join girls’ lacrosse!” I can visualize myself audibly laughing and wondering how in the world anyone could possibly play lacrosse.
I can play my lacrosse journey in flashbacks in my mind: I remember going to the first clinic, in awe at the high school seniors’ abilities to whip the ball into the net. I remember going to the first practice after (surprisingly) making the team and almost puking after running three miles. I remember feeling as though I wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t skilled enough, and wasn’t big enough to truly help the team win.
I’m laughing as I type this, because when I became a captain during my senior year of high school, I could not imagine my life without lacrosse. I had become the one typing up “Chicks with sticks… join girls’ lacrosse,” because I wanted everyone to know how such a simple sport could change a life.
Playing lacrosse in college was one of the greatest blessings that Baylor gave me. When I stepped on to the collegiate field for the first time with my last name on my jersey and “#1” gleaming on my uniform, there was no place I’d rather be. Running laps around the Baylor Science Building was worth it, sweating through my clothes in the September heat was worth it, and being surrounded by a team of brilliant women who quickly became my friends was an inexplicable feeling.
Deciding to quit the team was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I knew that school had to become a priority, and I truly invested myself in my sorority. Even not being on the team now, I still barely have time for the little things in life. I don’t regret quitting my favorite sport, but I really miss it.
This was the first year since I was 14-years-old that I didn’t string up my cleats.
This was the first time I didn’t get to feel the rush that scoring a goal brought to my soul.
This was the first time since middle school that hearing a whistle at the beginning of a game didn’t make everything else disappear so I could zone in on the thrill of the sport.
This was the first year I didn’t get to have those experiences.
I’ve never been a quitter. I have always been one to carry things all the way through until I’ve finished them. Perhaps, I’ll join the team again next year. There is nothing more I’d like to feel than the sense of my heart almost exploding out of my chest because my teammates are screaming that I whipped the ball around the goalie and into the net.
One of my favorite memories of my entire life is in my junior year of high school. It was the first half of the last game of the season. The whistle blew, and I spotted the ball coming towards me. I cradled the ball in my stick like it was a newborn baby, then hurled it into the goal within the first eight seconds of the game.
With the rush of adrenaline, I tumbled onto the ground, and everything around me seemed to silence. I was crumpled, not moving, simply praying that the ball successfully went into the net. When I opened my eyes and saw “1-0” on the scoreboard, that’s when I truly felt alive.
I’ve never felt more alive than when I played lacrosse. I felt something bigger than myself. As I laid on the field, at 16-years-old, turf sprawled all over my legs and my mouth guard stuffed in the corner of my cheek, I felt more awake than I ever had before. That’s when I knew I never wanted to stop playing the sport I had come to adore.
At nineteen-years-old, I have stopped doing what my heart always craved. The hematoma that I developed in my leg last year from pushing myself too hard gave me a reality check. I healed quickly, and the injury did not prevent me from staying on the team, but I needed to reassess my schedule and how I could give my 110% to everything I was involved in.
Unfortunately, lacrosse had to be the one I said goodbye to.
More than five years ago, I was a freshman in high school. I was in a totally different universe and I hadn’t yet found my place. Lacrosse was what changed everything. I’ll never forget finding my identity in both high school and college because of the sport that I initially laughed at. I really hope everyone finds what makes them feel alive.
For me, it was the thrill of performing a successful play, catching a difficult pass, and especially the swish that only I could hear when the ball landed in the net. I quit my favorite sport, but I’ll never quit feeling the happiness it brings me to remember how it felt to be a chick with a stick.