When I see or hear ACWL…

When I see or hear “ACWL” I don’t think “Albion College Women’s Lacrosse,” instead I immediately think of all of the wonderful teammates, coaches, and parents — just people in general — that I have met along the way. For me, it has only been one year (barely) being a part of this program, and already I tell people that it has been the best decision that I have made in my life thus far. ACWL means close connections. It means having 24 girls going through the same things that I am. It means having two coaches that would give up the world for me and more in order to see me succeed in all aspects of my life. ACWL means that I have family from Michigan to California, and several states in between. Lastly, ACWL means growth, as a person, player, and student. It holds me to a higher standard that recognizes my potential.

I have played one season on this team so far and cannot wait for the next three. I have done an immense amount of growing this last year, especially as a player. Having only one year of lacrosse experience under my belt coming into the program, by the end of the season you would not have thought that it was only my second year playing the game. My endurance was the highest that it has ever been, and my foot speed and change of speed has also increased. My stick skills were like a whole new world from the beginning of the season to the end, especially since I didn’t even have proper throwing form at the beginning! Through the aching muscles and sore wrists, I emerged a completely new player, and I can only see myself improving over the next three years. I know that ACWL will only continue to build my character as a person and athletic abilities as a player. ACWL will also continue to make me more open, allowing me to share my experiences in order to help others. ACWL will always take my playing career to the next level year after year, but what I am most excited about is how my coaches and teammates will push me to be a better, more prepared person. I just hope that I can leave a positive impact on all of them as well.

Carly Schwarz, #16 Midfield

2018 ACWL Spring Banquet — 3 Players, 3 Perspectives

Spring Trip, Newport Beach, CA, 2018

During this year’s banquet, we had a number of student-athlete speakers. Here are three unique perspectives from this year’s team — all different classes, different experiences. Enjoy and GO BRITS!

Hello everyone! My name is Kierstin Rose and I was a freshman during this amazing 2017-2018 lacrosse season. I wanted to give all of you insight on some of the biggest lessons I learned this year.

First things first, I learned that I could actually use my left hand which which was a huge development for me. But the biggest and most important lesson I learned is that this team is a family. Coming to Albion was a completely new experience, I was on my own for the first time and had no idea what to do next. Luckily, the captains had already planned a team dinner in the Keller.

Now I know at the beginning I was nowhere near being the most talkative person, let’s be real it took me weeks to tell you guys I prefer to be called Krose, but times like those are the ones I am most thankful for. The times where we were together and the people around us knew the women’s lacrosse team was near, like at the Hall of Fame dinner…the trips, bus rides, and movies that I had never seen before but now have strong opinions about…added greatly to my understanding of what it means to be a part of a team that genuinely cares about one another. Being with this team has made me realize that this season was so much more than I expected it to be. I drastically underestimated how much I would learn and from whom. I can honestly tell you that I have learned something from every single person on this team including Eddie and Jenna.

This entire college experience has changed the person I am and will continue to change me throughout my years here at Albion with the help of this team. For instance — speaking in our team meetings has showed me that my voice has value, which has made me better in classroom discussions because I’m no longer hesitant to speak. Being pushed in practice has showed me that I am more mentally tough than I give myself credit for; if we can run those 100s, honestly, there’s nothing that can stop us. And above all else, if I ever feel like I am alone or have something I’m going through there will always be open ears waiting for me. I cannot put into words how appreciative I am for each and everyone of you.

In the years to come, I strive to develop some of the leadership qualities that our new alumni possess. Thank you former seniors for constantly being an amazing embodiment of what it means to be a Brit. Thank you coaches for being fantastic teachers and like my second moms. Thank you coach Mehl for making me stronger. Thank you Lee family for everything you’ve done for this team. Thank you Eddie for keeping me healthy. Thank you parents for all that you do and for giving me my amazing teammates.

I could not have asked for a better first year experience. Thank you.

#9 Kierstin Rose, Freshman Attack, Indianapolis, IN


We were born in January. This new ACWL, this new team with all of these new people. We were cold, saw snow for the first time, and woke up early to start working towards something we couldn’t quite see yet.

We learned to ride a bike with training wheels in February. We had our first two games (NMU and Hanover) where we put some of our new tools to use. But, we had a lot of growing up to do.

We experienced the confusing times of “puberty” in March. We went to California, practiced with the mountains on the horizon and our team changed. It wasn’t the silent-cage-fighting, it wasn’t Drop the Mic, it wasn’t the beach or the much needed sunshine, it wasn’t watching whales, it wasn’t the new pregame songs, it wasn’t In-and Out (although that changed my life). It was that game. Redlands. According to the scoreboard, yes, we lost. But we gained so much more. We realized this in the locker room and nothing has ever felt so good yet looked so bad (aka we are ALL ugly criers). Coming back to Michigan we faced another mountain. We had to be honest with our coaches, teammates and with ourselves. We faced the truth together. We realized this opportunity was a gift not a right. We became grateful. Grateful for this program, our history, our seniors, and our teammates.

We took off our training wheels and rode our 45-person bike in April.

In May, that life has passed but we live on. Some of us graduated, moving on to the next chapter. And the rest of us sit eagerly for our next life together.

There were a lot of uncontrollables this season. Injuries, the weather at Adrian, the weather at Olivet, and I could go on, especially about the weather. But we learned these are called uncontrollables for a reason and, of course, that it was always “70 and sunny” for a Brit. I learned as long as your team has your back and you have theirs, no matter what happens, no matter how long your jersey sits on the hanger, no matter how little time you have, no matter what you have to sacrifice, no matter what you go through — you will always have ACWL.

This season was so special for me because this team is so special to me. So, thank you.

#11 Marah Ranger, Sophomore Attack, Kalamazoo, MI

As I packed my bag last weekend, I couldn’t help but feel a little distraught thinking about how I felt our team should have been practicing for the next championship instead of packing up our locker room.

My sister shouted from the bathroom a quote on wall that reads “Your biggest competition is yourself.” She said this in a super goofy voice, in an attempt to make me laugh. I flashed back to my freshman year remembering the first time I read that and smiled being my pumped lil freshman self, excited to be on the Albion women’s lax team.

As I packed my bag, I reminisced on my four years at Albion. I said to my sister — isn’t that crazy I’ve been here in this locker room for four years? It’s seen me at my best and my worst times. It’s seen me as a young sassy freshman who probably annoyed the hell out of coach for never listening and not playing up to my full potential.

It’s seen me as an even sassier sophomore who was abruptly changed from attack to defense one day because coach had had enough. It has seen me as a young leader who needed to step into a position I felt I wasn’t yet fit for. And it’s seen me as a sassy yet mature senior who has become so incredibly grateful for this amazing opportunity.

As I packed my bag, I not only packed the practice clothes, 20 hair ties I borrowed from people for the dragon braid, and cleats, of course. I also packed the intangible things, like invaluable leadership skills, work ethic, strategic thinking and an improved sense of character, all thanks to my coaches and to my teammates.

Coach Shanta and Coach Em, you both are such incredible role models to me as you recognize potential, set the standards high and won’t hold us to anything less.

To my teammates, one of our goals was to become a team of leaders and I feel confident standing here saying that there is a room full of leaders in front of me. I am confident in saying we are not the same team we were this January. We have worked hard to develop into strong, considerate leaders — that has been reflected on and off the field. We couldn’t have done that without executing our roles to the fullest and beyond, and for holding each other accountable to do so.

As we pack our bags some will move on to the next chapter of their lives and get jobs and miss the “ole albion days”, while others pack their bags to enjoy the summer and look forward to their next or last year at Albion.

Regardless of what comes next, I am so thankful this amazing group of young women was able to share the experience of this season and Albion women’s lacrosse will always hold a special place in all of our hearts.

As we pack and unpack our bags for whatever we are up to next, something that we will always take with us are the memories made, the laughs we shared, the tears we cried, our unforgettable coaches, and these bonds that will never be broken.

A huge thank you for all those who make this possible…coaches, teammates, Melissa, Leah, Coach Mehl, Bobby…

#10 Lauren Wiegand, Senior Midfield, Brighton, MI

MIAA Tournament, 2018

…how could I say no?

Cassandra Reuschlein, #23 Attack

Junior year was full of challenges. It was the peak of the hardest classes I would have to take to fulfill my biochemistry major. In addition to the challenging course load, I indulged in many campus organizations and leadership roles within them. But, surely that was not enough. At the end of my first semester junior year I was presented the opportunity to play lacrosse at Albion College. I thought to myself, “How could I say yes?” But, ultimately, how could I say no?

When spring semester came around, I became #23 on the Albion College Women’s Lacrosse roster. I was fully committed to learning the sport and becoming a part of a new incredible team. I was welcomed with open arms from the coaching staff and my teammates; but, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had to overcome many physical and mental challenges while learning what ACWL was all about. While my teammates made everything look easy, it definitely was not easy for me. It took a lot of work. I know for certain that I would have never been able to continue on this crazy adventure without their continuous support and the time that they invested in me. From the countless stick trick tips, to dragging me along during conditioning, or crying happy and sad tears together during team meetings; this team became a family.

While junior year came with many challenges, it also came with so much opportunity and growth. I have never been a part of a team with so much genuineness and passion. Last season, I gained good friends and supporters that I probably would not have if I did not join this team. Last season, I learned a sport that has given more to me than I could have ever asked in such a short time. Last season, I gained a sense of purpose on that beautiful, new lacrosse field.

Cass fires a shot during the Brits’ 2017 MIAA Tournament game at Calvin College.

When senior year came around, it was time to reflect on my experience and see what the future held for me and lacrosse. It was quite simple; I had joined a family last season. There was no way that I could let this family come into my life and not continue on the journey of one more season with them. At the conclusion of fall ball this semester, it solidified my decision to continue playing lacrosse my senior year. While Albion College has granted me countless opportunities, the opportunity to play for ACWL was by far one of the best. I cannot wait to step onto the field with the ACWL family this spring.

Cassandra Reuschlein, Senior Attacker #23

From The Field To The Sideline

Three of our current ACWL players took up coaching over the summer.

This past summer we (Attacker Cait Gaitley and Midfielder Shannon Kahl) were both fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be lacrosse coaches. We worked with girls at the middle school and high school age. This was a dream job for the both of us: teaching lacrosse with a teammate, and traveling for the summer. The girls reminded us why we both had gotten into the game, and many memories were made.

One of our favorite memories while coaching was being able to see what we had taught the girls at practice manifest itself on the field. For example, we worked on showing the girls how to hitch fake and shoot where they came from at practice. At the next tournament one of our players perfectly executed this, and right after she scored she looked at the both of us and said, “coach I did it!” It was such a good feeling to know that we had helped someone improve their skills, and we were able to see it first hand.

While it was fun and rewarding, we had our fair share of challenges along the way. As players, we have high lax IQ’s, but our coaching IQ’s were lower. Regardless, we were ready for the challenge. The change in mindset from player to coach was completely different and it took a little to get used to. We could not physically be on the field doing the plays, or directing teammates. We had to stand on the sideline getting our points across in a way that was direct and made sense, all while keeping it fun. It took patience, getting to know our players, learning how to work together as co-coaches, and learning how the program ran. As a coach there is a side to game day or tournament day that as players you don’t see. Much more goes into it than meets the eye: the line up preparation, the plays, adapting to the other team, etc. Learning this new perspective turned us into much more well rounded players and gave us a new appreciation for everything our coaching staff does.

Coaching allowed us to make new friends, share our love for lacrosse, learn a lot, and make new memories. We both grew in ways more than one. We became closer, learned to effectively communicate our thoughts, and fell in love with the game all over again from a different perspective.

— #6 Cait Gaitley & #14 Shannon Kahl, Class of 2018

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to be a lacrosse coach for the travel team I used to play for in high school. I had no idea how much this experience would impact my lacrosse life. I came in with no prior coaching experience and I wasn’t aware of how much work went into planning a practice and a game plan.

Naturally, I reverted to what I have learned here at Albion and I simplified a lot of our drills for practice. I couldn’t believe how much I learned about the drills when I was coaching them that I didn’t realize as a player. I also began to understand the emotions coaches experience on game day. You could see me on the sidelines crutching around to give advice (and just to pace because I got very anxious), getting the team excited about the game and trying to give my team the energy I had in the morning before the first game of each tournament (thanks to my expresso). But I also experienced how much a coach can genuinely care about their team and their progress as players and people. I was able to work side-by-side with an amazing coach that guided me through the experience and became a really close friend. I loved traveling with the team and being a part of the Bandit family again.

I played with a lot of the girls I coached this summer on previous teams, so the change from teammate to coach was a bit of an obstacle. I had to find out where I fit in as a part of the team again, yet with a different position. However, without my team over the summer, I wouldn’t have made it through my [ACL injury] recovery because they worked so hard and made coaching super fun even though they hit my knee multiple times with balls right after surgery and we constantly heard bagpipes all through practice (haha).

Now that the summer is over, and I have this amazing experience behind me, I think more about the deeper purpose for a drill, appreciate my coaches even more and have a lot more confidence in my abilities as a coach, teammate, and player.

— #11 Marah Ranger, Class of 2020

I joined a family.

I came to Albion this year on a search for a new adventure. Little did I know that that adventure involved a decision to join the lacrosse team.  My first week I learned that it is a dangerous sport and that the bright yellow balls are not to be stepped on. My second week I learned that yes, we do play in the snow and rain. I’d look out my window see it snowing and ask myself, “Hmmm I wonder if we will have practice outside?” 30 mins later, my hands would be frozen to my stick and saying to myself now I know why I was given 3 cold gear shirts :).


Higgenbotham’s Revenge Tour, Cumberland Caverns

My third week was spring break and wow did I learn a lot. I learned that I could make friends on team and that everyone was eerily similar to me. I found out that the human body can fit through very small openings (referring to our Cumberland Caverns caving trip). I now look at the world quite differently…after the cave, I look at tables and under beds and think…hm, could I fit? 

Lastly I realized I greatly underestimated what I was getting myself into. The following weeks consisted of me trying to wrap my mind around what exactly this team was. From the very first day, I knew it was something special. I would describe it as the feeling you get when you first visit Albion’s campus; it just feels like home. Everyone on the team welcomed new players with open arms and not once turned their backs or turned up their noses when asked for help…or even when maybe an illegal check was thrown (sorry Wiegs and Shan).

I can tell you right now, if that would have happened on other teams, they would not have been as accommodating. Even everyone’s family members are beyond nice. When I come upstairs for our potlucks, Shannon’s mom usually says hi to me before my own parents do. And then you throw in the coaching staff which is one like i have never experienced, with their uncanny relevant metaphors and their unreal ability to motivate a group.

So in ending this, I think I finally have been able to truly understand what I got myself into. I joined a family. A family that  is centered around coaches that build and enforce a culture for success. I’m not talking about “the frosting” success but the success that comes from being a good person that is able to look beyond herself and put forth the energy and effort that makes someone else look better.

Zoe Wilson, Sophomore Defender #26

Soroity thing 2

“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


“…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.


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.


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.


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!