“Why are you here?”

When people find out where I’m from, the first question that pops into their head is, “Why are you here?” And my answer will always be the same — I’m here, because I belong here. Moving from California to Michigan was unexpectedly easy due to several factors: my family, my teammates, and my coaches.

My family was very supportive when I made my decision to move 2,186.7 miles away from home (and yes, I googled that). They understood my passion for the game and knew that I would strive academically at a school like Albion. It was hard for me to leave my family back in California, but, I’ve made a new one here in Michigan.

My teammates made my transition from California to Michigan almost seamless; I’ve felt like I’ve played with and known them my whole life. Throughout the year, from having morning conditioning to in-season workouts and spending almost every day together,  they’ve made coming to Albion the best decision I’ve ever made. I have a group of girls  who I can talk to and have meals with — my teammates have become sisters to me.  From pre-season challenges to Zoolympics, my teammates show an unconditional support — “Got your back” — on and off the field. Knowing that these 18 young women have my back gives me the utmost confidence in myself.

Jenina with the team on spring break in Tennessee.

Jenina with the team on spring break ’17 in Tennessee.

Coach Loecker and Coach Em have supplied me with the tools I need to strive here at Albion (along with a trillion nicknames). Coach Loecker and Coach Em always have their door open to talk about academics, lacrosse, and life. They’ve created a safe space for myself and my teammates where we can be comfortable to be ourselves.

After an away game I thought I lost an important possession; right when I got into the locker room, I noticed it was gone. So Molly (our team manager) and I went outside to look for it on the field. We bumped into Coach and Coach Em and all of us frantically searched for it on the field. Meanwhile, my whole team in the locker room were also looking for this item. Little did I know, it was with me the whole time. My teammates and coaches knew how important this possession is to me, and they felt that frantic feeling right along with me. This story is just a little example of the love my teammates and coaches have for everyone who is a part of ACWL.

Having this group of people as a support system has made this a once in a lifetime experience.

Jenina Villabroza, Freshman GK #33

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“…I consider my teammates my best friends and even my sisters.”

Starting any sport at a new school with a brand new team can be a scary or nerve racking experience. The first few weeks of school made me a bit nervous because I did not know what to expect and I hoped everyone would like me. As I began my transition onto the Albion College lacrosse team, everything was very smooth and I was accepted with open arms. Everything about starting lacrosse here at Albion has been an amazing experience. I had a great transition from high school to college lacrosse with the help of my wonderful teammates and coaches. Not once have I ever felt nervous or intimidated by the heightened intensity of the sport or my team. Of course, certain practices and drills were challenging, but I kept my head up and worked hard for myself and my teammates.

Something that I really value about this team is a phrase we always say to each other, “Got Your Back”. This means a lot to me both on and off the field. I know that my teammates will always support me and love me no matter what we are doing. On the lacrosse field, this phrase helps us stay focused and not get worried or frustrated when something does not go how we wanted it to. Off the lacrosse field we also use this phrase to show our support for each other in everyday matters, whether it is a big test coming up or family troubles. Because of this I consider my teammates my best friends and even my sisters. We spend so much time together as a team that we are basically one big family.

 

ACWL Annual Dow Hunt!

ACWL Annual Dow Hunt feat. Elafants!

These past few weeks of preseason have taught me a lot about the game of lacrosse and also about myself. I have learned what I am capable of, how to have trust and faith in others on the field, and also about what it means to be a good teammate. At Albion I am challenged to push myself to my limit on the field, and I am capable of much more than I originally thought. I feel myself getting stronger and fitter every practice which I know will help me immensely come game time. Secondly, I have learned what it feels like to have a team you can rely on and work with. This team has taught me how to trust my teammates and not feel like I have to do all the work. Lastly, I have learned what being a good teammate looks and feels like. It is all about working hard for your teammates and pushing past any obstacles to be the best you can be for your team.

Staying mentally and physically focused at every practice, game, or team event is something I have learned how to do since the beginning of my first season here at Albion. Without the amazing dynamic of the lacrosse team I would be having a very different college experience. I am so ecstatic about my decision to play lacrosse at the college level, and especially excited that I chose to play at Albion. Both the school and the team felt like home when I first visited and I know my decision was the right one. My teammates prove it to me every day. I am so thankful to be a Brit!

Darcy Muns, Freshman

Darcy Muns, ACWL Freshman, #17

Looking back at the fall with ACWL…

Coming from a family with five sisters, I had no idea that joining the Albion College Women’s Lacrosse team would mean I would acquire even more sisters. Now as a junior on the team, I have the privilege of being a part of the Positivity Police and team leadership committee. Looking back I never would have guessed that this team would become such an integral part of my experience at Albion College. The team has truly changed my life.

donuts

My parents reinforced the importance of maintaining a positive hardworking attitude about everything no matter the circumstance. This fits right in with my role on the team as a part of the Positivity Police with fellow teammate Jordan Church. The Positivity Police work to keep the team energy, dynamic, and culture positive. As a team, we face some difficult tasks, but we are able to face them with a good mindset. This helps to create the family that we have built. This fall, one of the team bonding events we did was a trip to Sweet Seasons, a local apple orchard. We were able to hang out, eat donuts, and meander through the apple orchard. We are such a unique group of individuals and have been able to learn so much about each other during the Fall semester. My teammates are my family, and they help me feel at home in Albion.

We succeed and fail as a team. I believe the role of the Positivity Police helps us to achieve this mentality. We have learned how to best support each other both on and off the field. In doing so, we are able to maintain a good perspective on everything that we are working towards.

This fall we are taking a morning conditioning class. We wake up early, leaving our warm beds for a cold walk. Nonetheless, we are able to take the experience of waking up early to get in shape as an opportunity to make us better. We cheer each other on in the mornings, supporting one another when facing the physical and mental challenges mornings hold. Then we head to Baldwin for our much enjoyed team breakfast, which is often the reason we force ourselves from our beds every morning.

bfast

Every fall we work the Hall of Fame dinner during homecoming weekend at Albion. At the dinner we are able to take on the role of a server for the evening. It is always quite an interesting night considering that most of us have no experience serving. We serve dinner, then hang out together during the program. After the program we clear tables and prepare the space for the next event. At the beginning of this year’s dinner, we were all a little jittery and nervous, but by the end of the night we were having a great time laughing about the experience.

Being a part of this team gives me a sense of purpose. I know that I have a group of women that have my back, and I have all of their backs as well. Being a part of this team has really made my experience at Albion College amazing. I instantly had a group of women that were not only just my friends, but quickly became my family. I know that I have a constant support system with not just lacrosse, but school and everything else in my life as well.

hof

Every fall brings new members to our team — an exciting thing it is to be able to teach the new team members what it means to play Brit lacrosse! There are so many aspects of this team that I have come to enjoy. This fall we were able to grow closer through team bonding, trips to orchards, and many team meals together. We were able to learn more about each other and the game we all love to play, and I cannot wait to see what this coming season has in store for us!

Makenzie Frederickson, #22 Defense, Class of 2018

Welcome, class of 2020!

When I started playing lacrosse, the first major decision I had to make was what stick I was going to buy. Without having any experience or playing time whatsoever, I had to determine if I was going to be playing lacrosse for all four years of high school or if it was just a phase that would shortly be gone from my teenage life. Obviously, I wanted the cool expensive stick, which gave me a reason to stick with the sport.

Three years later, the second major decision I had to make was where I was going to college. When I bought that first stick, I had no idea that it would help bring me the opportunity to continue my lacrosse career at my dream college. Yet, when I took my first step onto Albion’s campus I felt like I found the perfect wedding dress; you know, the “feeling”, the moment where you know it’s the dress (or school) for you. Super cheesy I know, but that’s what it was like: a place I could call home and still play the sport I love.

Today, I had to make another one of those tough decisions: deciding what to write this blog entry about. There are exactly 2 days until I move into the dorms with a fellow lacrosse player and I couldn’t be more excited. I had the opportunity to spend a few days with some of the lacrosse team and we had many odd bonding moments, such as crawling like animals through Baldwin and being lifted into the air after having lipstick smeared across my forehead (while re-enacting The Lion King for a camp talent show). However, nerves have also set in. Although I have learned some cheers, drills and warm-ups from a camp I worked this summer, I’m still not sure what to expect. I know it will be very challenging, a lot more conditioning than I’m used to, and harder practices.

That said, all of these challenges are worth it. I will be learning more about lacrosse and gaining a family that already seems to be one of the coolest groups that I have had the chance to be involved in. So in conclusion, my name is Marah Ranger and I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the Albion Class of 2020 and the women’s lacrosse team.

  • Marah Ranger (Freshman, Kalamazoo, MI)
Marah at home in MI

Marah at home in MI

Post-Season Wrap Up, Two Perspectives

A number of team members were given the opportunity to speak at our end of year team banquet last week: our captains, team leaders, reps from each class, SAAC rep, and more. Here are two speeches from two completely different perspectives. That said, there is one clear similarity — the people come first. Person over player became a theme this season, and it rang true to the very end. The first speech is from Victoria Della Pia, four-year starter at goalkeeper, Positivity-Police chief, All-MIAA pick, and all-around lacrosse superstar. The second, is from head coach, Shanta Loecker, as she reflects on the 2016 season. Enjoy!

I cannot believe the day has really come for the four of us (seniors) to become retired athletes. Quoting my favourite rapper and fellow Canadian, “We started from the bottom and now we’re here” [with lots more to go]. I say this because if you did not know, this team came from a tough beginning. The four of us agreed to play lacrosse for a team that had never won a game. I remember my recruiting visit and the Brits played against Adrian and lost by 25, but man I was so excited for my college journey. Izzy and Julie had similar experiences… except Kadie who wasn’t sure why she chose Albion. Another person who decided to commit and persevere that year with the win-less Brits was Coach.  Coach was the best thing that ever happened to this program.  Coach has always been an amazing confidant to each one of us, whether it was about school, lacrosse, our futures, or personal issues. Coach has instilled and encouraged such great values upon us and the team. These values are much more than our standards of success, but the words to live by and better yet, life lessons. “We will encounter things that we can’t control, but what matters most is how we control the things that we can” we have all definitely heard this before. I think this is one of the most important life lessons coach has taught us over the years.

Your attitude and your actions matter the most when things are not in your control. It is a very hard idea to grasp, but the constant reminders have engrained this motto into who we are.

Over the years coach has put in more time and love than most coaches. It’s not usual for a team to go from never winning to being a tournament champion three years later and then conference champions four years later.   Coach’s whole hearted support is the root of this team. Being a part of this team has been the most rewarding part of college; more than any other organizations. Knowing the four of us have completed this adventure as four year student-athletes is one to be so proud of and honoured for. Every person on this team has had a personal effect on me and all of the other seniors. Cait’s interesting dance moves, Tay’s loud Hulk explosions, Wieg’s goofy commentary, Kristine’s personalized raps, Nat’s questioning ability, Jordan’s love for sports, Mikaela’s boxer mentality, Shannon’s amazing dinosaur braid work, Sabrina’s wise words, Alyssa’s imagination, Alex’s giraffe story , Ari’s insights and love, Freddy’s daily uplifting words, Mikenna’s no mercy attitude, Molly’s koalaing, Coach B’s game day message of set the tone, and Coach’s daily cool, hydrate, and stretch. Together, this team has been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of and will always be a part of. I love everyone on this team more than you all know and I thank you for allowing me to be part of something bigger than myself.

– Victoria Della Pia, #94, Class of 2016

Victoria with the team's six other All-MIAA team picks at banquet.

Victoria (third from right) with the team’s 6 other All-MIAA selections at the awards banquet.

I wanted to take a moment to share a few things with everyone before the year ends…and in true coach fashion, attempt to find some closure for the team this season. I’ve always been more of a writer than a talker, so I wrote some thoughts down for today.

A few weeks before this year’s preseason practices began, I was in a bit of a panic. Some things had happened that felt completely out of my control and I wasn’t sure where that would leave us as a team this season. It’s probably no secret that my biggest fear is somehow letting them down or not setting us up to be successful.

Fast forward, 2 weeks into preseason. We have a few new, unexpected additions. We have a completely new vibe. And in all honesty, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more confident in a group at Albion so quickly. Not because we had the most talent or skill or experience. But because these kids walked around like CHAMPIONS when they had no real evidence to back it up. Muhammed Ali is famous for saying “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.” This team reminded me of that. Two weeks into preseason, I felt ready to win a conference championship. I felt like we could. I knew it would be a process, and I knew we’d have our share of challenges. But it just felt right.

Well, we did that. But, what I’ve realized since then, is okay…8-0 is great. Conference championships are exciting. Sure. But if we base our success on those numbers, those material things…then what are we supposed to think about that 1-goal loss on Saturday, that hit us all like a hard punch in the stomach…? Was it all for nothing? Of course not.

We can’t define our success that way. There is no perspective there. We have to find value in the details, the in-between. When I have a conversation with Ari about increasing diversity on college campuses and the effect that has on the political climate or Sabrina performs the most hilarious stick challenge trick I’ve ever seen or Julie gets more than a little weird. When Kadie wins a competitive drill (wait that’s daily thing) or Iz tells everyone how much she loves them (also a daily thing). When Kristine cracks a joke about putting a tally of the number of times she’s cried in my office on the wall, or Alyssa drops the best pun ever in our inboxes. When Cait forgets she’s in public and goes a little nuts during pregame and pours some sugar on Taylor. Or Jordan basically plays through an injury so well that half the team doesn’t even know it happened. When Mikenna demands point blank for me to tell her that she can’t do something — geez coach, don’t you know how to motivate me by now?? Or Wiegs dominates a completely new position at practice without a word. When Freddy tells us all that her day has been “phenomenal” or V finds the perfect hairstyle to compliment her crazy ways. When Molly agrees to help us pull off the best coaches April Fool’s prank EVER. When Nat practically breaks the bench cam with Brit pride, or Alex looks up at the snow in the middle of practice and says “Look up, it’s beautiful!”. When Shannon sends me a text that she’s glad she’s here at Albion, or Mikaela makes some sad soul on another team basically look like a non-athlete. It’s all the stuff in between — that’s where the real value lies.

We like to go through life with this wonderful idea that if you work hard enough — you can do anything. If you’re good and kind and selfless and honest — the world gives you what you need. Sort of like some weird self-righteous sense of entitlement. The reality is — there are still going be pieces of this game, and pieces of our lives, that we simply cannot control. Which means, sometimes, even when you least deserve it, you fail. Even when you’ve given everything you thought you had, you come up short. Even when your intentions are right, your commitment is visceral, and your focus unwavering, you fall flat on your face in defeat. It’s a lesson we hear over and over again — life isn’t fair.

But I think John Wooden had the right idea when he said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

That is what’s so magical about sports. We are experiencing that truth on a daily basis. If there is one thing I genuinely hope you learn on this team, it’s that you have to accept the inevitability of mistakes, that failure is impossible to avoid. We are not perfect. We screw up, and then we get up, learn something new, build our bank of knowledge, and get better, smarter, and stronger so that we’re prepared for the next opportunity that comes our way.

One of the single most important things I’ve learned in the last eleven years of coaching is to enjoy the good things — and this team was one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of. As much as I love lacrosse, it’s just a ball and some turf —the people are the heart of anything and everything that we do. The last four months with this group of people has given me the amazing opportunity to fall in love with coaching all over again. I am so unbelievably grateful for that, and I know with zero uncertainty that the future is bright for this program — because I’m looking at a foundation that cannot be broken.

– Shanta Loecker, Albion College Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach

The 2016 MIAA Champs!

The 2016 MIAA Champs!

Once a Brit, always a Brit.

On April 24, we held our annual Senior Student-Athlete Recognition Ceremony. Not only were our players honored to receive Senior Student-Athlete of the Year (Kadie Koolwick, Midfield) and the Kovalchik Scholar-Athlete Award Nomination (Victoria Della Pia, Goalkeeper) — one of our seniors was asked to speak at the event. Here is the speech in full — an excellent conclusion to the event, given by Julie Wood (Attacker, pictured below). Julie is a senior two-year captain for the Brits.

Julie Wood

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Julie Wood and I am a senior on the Albion College women’s lacrosse team. It is an honor to be standing up here in front of all of you to give a few final remarks on the closing of the 2015-2016 season.

Athletics have always been a huge part of my life, as I am sure they have been for all of you as well. Eight years ago, if I was asked if I wanted to play college lacrosse, I couldn’t have even imagined it as a possibility.  Now, as I stand here in front of all of you with a few short weeks left in my season, I couldn’t imagine my college career without it. There is a lot to say about an individual who commits to four years of being a college athlete. We learn a lot more than how to be better at our sport. We learn to manage our time, work as a group, handle pressure and even build our character along the way. When you are a part of a college team, you are committing to more than just playing a sport.  You are committing to being a part of the whole Albion athletic community.

Being a part of this community has changed my life. In just 3 months, I have spent roughly 157 hours at practice, in the weight room and in the varsity lounge. On top of that there have been additional hours spent in my Coach’s office, one on one sessions in the Dow Center, travel time to away games, study tables, clinics, our games, and more. In other words, a little over 10% of all my time in the last three months has been spent with my team – building a family within the community.  As seniors, each year we’ve built new and stronger connections on our teams and with other athletes. Our relationships with all of the athletic faculty also continued to grow with each hour spent at the Dow.

Each one of us has been influenced by our teammates in some way. Our coaches, trainers and the athletic faculty have also hugely impacted our lives. Just this year alone, several Albion coaches have supported my team. From 6:00am morning conditioning with the basketball coaches, being taught how to squat properly in the weight room by football staff, Coach Scott from women’s soccer teaching us defensive tactics at practice, the track coaches putting up with our missed catches while their team runs sprints, to Coach DeCola from men’s lacrosse teaching us invaluable life lessons about field mice at SAAC clinics, we’ve been impacted by so many others in the athletic community simply by being a part of a team.

The support we have for each other on this campus is amazing. In the four years I have been here, my respect for other athletes has grown immensely. It’s not easy to be a student-athlete, but with the support of the athletic community it’s possible to commit to four years. So freshmen, hang tight because not only is each year different, but they go by very fast too.

During our four years, we’ve seen victories, losses, shed some tears, shared in laughs, thought we were going to pass out running sprints, ate way too much with our teammates, and most importantly we established great relationships with the people who helped us through this journey.

The athletic staff has been a huge help in keeping the joy of being a Briton alive. Matt Arend and Melissa Walton (Athletic Directors) have done a wonderful job at bringing athletes together through supporting our coaches, influencing us to always and only wear purple and gold in the Dow, and making SAAC a really cool organization to be a part of. Thank you for all that you do for the athletic community. We wouldn’t be as strong without both of you. Bobby Lee (Sports Information Director), thank you for always bringing your ‘A’ game over the loud speaker, writing awesome game recaps to read on bus rides home and making gobrits.com and all of our social media a great representation of Albion Athletics. Andy Lawrence (Head Athletic Trainer), we appreciate the hell out of ya. Sometimes I think athletes come in for “rehab” to actually just chat. Your friendly smile and jokes make taking an ice bath a little easier. Thank you to you and all of the athletic training staff. A special shout out goes to President Ditzler for bringing the community all together to make our experience as student-athletes better. You have done a wonderful job of making the campus a welcoming place. Thank you to President Ditzler and the entire faculty and staff.

Coaches. Speaking on be half of the student-athletes in this room — thank you for the numerous hours you have spent preparing, motivating and supporting our teams. Our coaches play a huge role in how we’ve grown both individually and as a team. We appreciate all that you do.

Brits. Thank you for being a part of why being an athlete is such an awesome experience. Great teammates are essential to make it through the journey of being a student-athlete.

Seniors, thank you for committing yourselves to your teams. I admire all of you for your hard work and dedication. Thank you for putting in the time and effort to make the Albion athletic community better. As we move forward with our lives, we will always remember the hours we spent in purple and gold. What we are leaving behind is more than wins and losses. The opportunity to play a college sport is rare. Remember to appreciate your final week on this campus, stop in the Dow one more time and always remember that once a Brit, always a Brit.

Thank you.

 

ACWL Takes Cali (Take 2!)

Spring break. Wow, was this year one for the books. It feels like a century ago, but that might be because I am so late at getting this post up…

This year ACWL took a trip across the country to California. This is a huge switch up from last year when we went to Chicago. However from last year to this year my perspective for this team changed drastically. Last year I was a player, this year I am a student assistant coach. I am no longer a player not by choice, or coach’s choice. I am no longer a player by doctor’s orders. Even though my role on the team has changed, I am still so happy to be a part of such an incredible team.

On this trip there was a no complaining rule, or else you would have to wear a hat out in public that said, “I am a complainer, ACWL ‘16”, created by our awesome POPO (the team’s “positivity police”). There was so much excitement going into this week, which was kept up throughout the entire trip.

The first day we got there we went to Venice Beach, home of Muscle Beach. Now, as my entire team knows I am pretty big into lifting so of course I was pretty stoked to be there. This day, along with the next day, was very windy, making it virtually impossible to walk on the beach because the sand would pelt you — lets just say it did not feel good at all. But we still managed to have fun, and that was the first day that the complainer hat was distributed. However, the next day when we were in Malibu the wind made it pretty exhilarating hiking on the edge of a cliff.

Game days were pretty relaxed outside of the games. The team did some bonding those days to keep it low-key, including team yoga. Even though we lost both games, our team took major steps as a whole. Wednesday we had the most amazing opportunity to be in the audience of The Late Late Show with James Corden. The entire team made it on TV, however freshman, Alyssa Brooks, and myself made it on the most because we had aisle seats where guests, Martin Short and Will Arnett, came right through (#tellmomwemadeit). Friday rolled around and we were on our way to DISNEY! I have never seen coach act like such a little kid, and it was awesome. Everyone was ecstatic. We spent literally the whole day there just enjoying our last day in Cali together.

ACWL takes Disney. March, 2016.

ACWL takes Disney! March, 2016.

All in all, this entire trip was a major success. We came to California as team, but returned to Michigan as a family. We all learned so much about each other that we didn’t even know we could learn. Each day we had to sit with someone different in the vans, which lead to all kinds of different conversations. I found out that Natalie has a deep love for Rapunzel, which lead to a few tears when she came out in the parade at Disney. Also, that Kristine has some sick dance moves; Isabel has an amazing singing voice (for Seven Years feat. Shannon and Mikaela) also that Julie can get real weird, and the team will understand this one…Ari’s Dog…. I cannot wait for such an amazing rest of the season with these girls.

Molly Hubbell (Albion College Women’s Lacrosse, Student Assistant Coach)

Courage and Confidence

The team after practice at Occidental College.

The team after practice at Occidental College on March 9 in Los Angeles, CA.

Last week, during a 6-day spring break trip to California, the team kept extremely busy. From intense practices to TV tapings and competitive games to adventures in fro-yo…there was one recurring theme – CONFIDENCE. How does one build it? How does a team exude it? How does one project it on and off the field? After Thursday’s typical pregame strategy meeting, each player was asked to respond to the following prompt.

You’ve just won the “Arthur Ashe Award for Courage” at the ESPY’s for transcending the world of sports. Muhammad Ali received the award in 1997, Nelson Mandela in 2009, and now, in 2016 — YOU. Write your acceptance speech, and prepare to accept your award today in front of your team and loved ones. Think about what makes you YOU. Take 20 minutes to write and edit a speech for this momentous occasion.

Each player delivered a personal acceptance speech to the team, and it’s never been clearer that each individual perspective is important in its own way. Some were funny, some bittersweet, others teeming with gratitude. Here are three uniquely impactful speeches that members of the team shared that afternoon. Enjoy!


#18 ARIELLA RUIZ, FRESHMAN ATTACK

I am honored to receive this award in front of all of you today. But, what is courage? Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced the feeling of fear and have felt the desire to give up and walk away from it all: stay home, crawl in my bed and simply avoid the world. What makes me courageous is the audacity to say, “F*** that” and battle everything the world has the nerve to throw at me. Courage isn’t being fearless, it is being able to attack that fear and fake it until you become it.

My entire life, I have felt that all I am to the world is another pretty face. All I am is trendy. All I am is standard. All I am is a silly dumb female. But — it’s okay because I am pretty enough to someday marry a rich man who will take care of me. Growing up, I have been exposed to an incredible amount of jokes about just finding a wealthy man to provide for my future family. It doesn’t make me laugh because I know that is not who I am.

I do not have the fear of not having money. I have the fear that not everyone in the world will be happy. I do not have the fear of not getting enough instagram likes. I have the fear that not everyone will watch my PSA about the child slavery currently happening on the cocoa plantations in Africa. I do not have the fear that I will be alone in life. I have the fear that I will not make a difference and impact in others’ lives.

People always talk about meeting their other half and finding their soul mate. That is not a problem for me because I am aware that I am a whole. I am my other half and I have the power to make change and difference in others’ lives, and that is what makes me courageous. The courage I have is not being fearless. The courage I have is stepping out of my comfort zone and thinking and doing what others are too scared to do.


 #12 ALEX RADZVILLE, FRESHMAN MIDFIELD

Well first off, I would like to thank you all so much for this award; it was truly just an honor to be nominated. There is an infinite amount of definitions today for a successful life. Some say it’s based on how much money you make or how many possessions you own, where as others define it by happiness or how many loved ones you are able to surround yourself with.

Me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I want a job that makes me both happy and can provide me the life I intend on living. Not going to lie, my bucket list is a few notebooks long. I want to travel and see the world, get to know other cultures, and make new friends along the way. Earlier this year I was asked to come and play lacrosse. This absolutely terrified me. I knew that it was going to take a lot of extra time and commitment to even reach a level where I could match up with the other girls on the team. But I said to myself — “Alex, this could be the golden door to a new love in your life”.

It is kind of like traveling, in a sense. You make new friends and learn different styles of play. I knew that this opportunity was not just a coincidence, but fate. Because I did find a new love and I was also able to prove to myself that fear isn’t always a bad thing – maybe it just fuels you to becoming something greater. 


#6 CAIT GAITLEY, SOPHOMORE ATTACK

Thank you, thank you so much. I am humbled and honored to be accepting this prestigious award today. Growing up I had a very loving and accepting family to whom I’d also like to thank. But let me tell you, growing up with two sisters is hard. Growing up with two smart, athletic, funny, beautiful, well-driven sisters is hard. Coming home from school proud that I got a B+ on a test and feeling one-upped after hearing that my sister got into a well known medical school is hard. Asking to borrow a pair of jeans, but then thinking, “She’s so much skinnier than you, Cait. They aren’t going to fit you…” is hard.

Don’t get me wrong. I had an amazing childhood and my family, especially my incredible sisters, were proud of everything I did. But hard is hard, and those parts were hard. There were two things that weren’t hard for me growing up and those were singing and sports. Nothing can compare to the feeling of getting a kill in volleyball, sticking a gymnastics routine, scoring a fast break goal in lacrosse, or hitting that high note you didn’t think could ever be in your range. No, those were never hard, those were easy, those were mine. I stand here today not because I embraced what I believed were my failures and my shortcomings (too stupid, not skinny enough), but because I dared to be confident and to celebrate my accomplishments. I have failed before and will fail every day in some way. But I can say with confidence that today and every day I have also won. Thank you.

Positivity and the ‘Brit-side’

Learning a whole new sport at the college varsity level is not like any other challenge I have faced before. Who really gets to do this? I mean, who is crazy enough to decide to have another whole season one week before the season starts? There is no answer to this question because Alex, Mikaela, Mikenna, and I (all current players on the women’s soccer team and new to lacrosse) are not crazy. If any human experienced the drive, support, determination, love, humility, and competitiveness of a team like the Albion College Women’s Lacrosse team, they would undoubtedly agree that it would be insane to say no to this opportunity.

I love it. Yes, it has been a little over a month, but I love it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Being new to this can lead to great tests of mental strength. You can feel like you are working your hardest and are doing everything right and sill have things not go your way. Catching, passing, shooting—all things that are so simple, yet so hard. Frustration and confusion regarding why you can’t do it can build up and bring you to the edge — of giving up or becoming stronger.

You must decide to become stronger. It takes energy to be aggravated and upset. Put that energy to better use! Turn that energy into motivation. Yes, I might make a mistake, but I’ll get the next play. If I don’t get the next play, then I’ll put some extra practice time into improving that skill. I like to think about how lucky I am to be a part of this program. I am lucky to be in practice, even if I’m dropping nearly every ball, because I am part of this team. I am lucky to be tired from any sort conditioning because during that time, I get to be with all of these amazing girls. I am lucky to be going against some of the best defenders on the team during different drills in practice, not because they help me notice my weaknesses more (which they do), but because it’s another opportunity for me to become a better player for my team.

That’s the one thing that separates this team from most: the ability to make everyone on the team want to improve themselves for each other, and I love that. Positivity and seeing the bright-side (or ‘Brit-side’) of mistakes or situations is part of every day for us. This team has sparked a new excitement in me and my future at Albion, and I look forward to spending that time with them.

Alyssa Brooks #16 (Attack)

CPO [Chief Pun Officer]

Alyssa and her family at her first lacrosse game at Legacy Center (Brighton, MI).