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).

Leaving a Legacy

For the past couple of weeks, as captains and seniors, we’ve been reminiscing over our three and a half years together. We’ve come a long way as a program, as teammates and as leaders. This final season is a little bittersweet. Going into our last season here at Albion we can reflect on the tremendous growth that this team has gone through. We have been through a lot these last three years. This season is going to present new challenges, offer the opportunity for new successes and hopefully create a lasting impact on Albion College Women’s Lacrosse.

As seniors, we pride ourselves on the positive, hard-working reputation ACWL has built over the past several years. With the first week of practice underway on the new Dow floor, we cannot wait to see how much we will grow this season. We are all looking forward to playing our final season with a great team. Our team comes from a variety of backgrounds. Each teammate has something different to bring the table. We know our diversity will only make us stronger as people and as lacrosse players.

The ACWL Class of 2016.

The ACWL Class of 2016!

It’s not going to be an easy season. As captains, we are mentally prepared for the challenges ahead. These first two weeks of practice are going to be tough as a team, but we are more than excited and ready to get the season underway. Our pre-conference games will be a great starting point and will prepare us for the rest of the spring. We are looking forward to going to California over spring break in early March, which will turn into a great bonding experience as a team. Once the conference starts, the end of the year will really begin to take off. Our goal is to appreciate every moment spent on the field and with our team.

Our final season as Albion lacrosse players will be tough in many ways; whether it’s conditioning, playing our last game, or leaving a program that has taught us so much. We are striving to leave a legacy for the underclassmen and for ACWL as a program.

As always, Go Brits!

Kadie, Isabel, and Julie

…so then, what am I working for?

So here I am, 7:20am, lying on my back in the middle of the tennis courts. My small (but existent) abs are burning from this core workout. Julie Wood, one of our lovely captains, is cheering me on, along with the two other girls who were unfortunate enough to miss a morning cardio session. Later, when I recount this moment to a few people, I describe it as ‘some sort of epiphany’. As I lay on my back kicking my legs, a thought occurs. No one is making me do this. No one is physically moving my legs for me, and there are no life-threating consequences if I stop. Julie can be intimidating but even she can’t force me to keep going. So what am I doing right now? Why am I doing this? At first, I had no answer.

Yes, you can say to yourself you’re giving everything you have for your team, to get better, or because you’re just a competitive person in general. But when it comes down to it, who is really waking you up in the morning three times a week to run? Who is jotting down a timeline for the day so you can maximize your study time? Who tells you that your best at this moment is not good enough? The easy answer is you. But that answer wasn’t sufficient for me. Obviously, it was me moving my legs and pushing myself when stopping could have been so easy. It’s me that sets the alarm, and it’s me that juggles more than just lacrosse balls every day. But I think it’s more than that. I’m not pushing my body to the breaking point all the time just to torture myself; there’s something more here. And trust me, there is no way I will ever go pro…

So then what am I working for?

I’d like to say that there is this ghost, or maybe phantom, that exists and it is me in the future. Like the ghost of Christmas future but instead it’s me in two years. She’s like the goal, the mature-adult-me ready to take on the world beyond college. She has cleared every hurdle, no matter how big.

And I want to be her.

I want to be that person that can laugh through struggles because the tallest mountain has already been climbed. I don’t want the rest of my life to be boring, but I most certainly don’t want to be thrust out into the world feeling like I’m pretending to be something I’m not. This team means so much to me, and I feel like it will be the reason that I will walk out of Albion College unafraid of what lies before me. That goal is what keeps me pushing. Like I said before, it goes beyond pushing yourself; it goes deeper than that. Yeah, no one will ever ask me in a job interview what my 800M time is, but I know what perseverance is, and I know I can make it even when things get tough.

I won’t lie, fall ball was hard, much harder than I thought it would be. The thought of this upcoming season makes me nervous because I don’t know what will happen — but it’s going to be okay. I see this ghost of future-me and it makes me appreciate where I’m at and the journey that I’m on. I’m not becoming a professional athlete, but I am becoming a better person. This fall ball season reminded me to take a step back and appreciate where I am.

Natalie Krauss, Soph, GK

Natalie Krauss, Sophomore GK (Rochester, MI)

Say hello to our 2016 team captains!

As a senior this fall, I am so excited and honored to be named a captain for my final year at Albion. I am also really looking forward to working with my co-captains, Julie and Kadie. We’ve grown very close the past 3 years and I think we will each add something unique to the leadership dynamic of this team. We accomplished so many amazing things last season; we improved our record significantly, won the conference tournament championship, and got the opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament, but most importantly we learned a lot along the way. I’m so excited to welcome the freshmen to our family, and to be a mentor for them on and off the field. This year the standards will be set high, so I’m very eager to see what the 2016 season brings!

IzzyIsabel Fontana #4

 

I’m so excited to be a captain for a second year, especially because this year I get to do it with two of the girls that began this journey with me three years ago; Julie and Isabel. Both of these girls will bring great leadership to the team. I’m thrilled to welcome another talented group of incoming freshman. Coming off of a big season last year, I hope we continue to grow as a program this upcoming year. The 2016 season will have new challenges but I have no doubt that we will face them head on and have a successful year.

Kadie

Kadie Koolwick #11

 

After three years of practice, early morning workouts, weight lifts and games, the Albion Women’s Lacrosse program has positively impacted my experience at Albion College. Being able to take part in the growth of this program has been a crazy ride.  Being a member of our team means so much more than just being another player on the field. On this team, you have the teammate that sends hilarious, motivating emails the night before morning conditioning, the teammate that lets you use their shoulder as a pillow on five-hour bus rides, the teammate who helps you with your homework during weekly study halls, the teammate who sends you a text to just to remind you that you’re awesome, and the teammate who props the back door to the locker room open for you when you are running across campus because you’re late for practice. On our team, you find a friend in each teammate. Someone who is there to push you, motivate you and bring out the best in you. Over these past three years, we’ve built a family whose main goal is to define our own success. This past season, we proved just that. Not by winning the MIAA conference tournament, but by the commitment we proved we had while working towards that Championship.

As a returning captain, and as a senior, I couldn’t be more thankful to have another chance to lead this team. Working with my co-captains and third-year teammates, Kadie Koolwick and Isabel Fontana, will be an awesome experience. We have been building a strong connection on and off the field since we were shy little freshmen. Each year, it has been fun to see new freshmen join our team, having the same feelings Koolwick, Izzy and I had back in 2012. As our new freshmen arrive at Albion, I can’t wait to get to know them better and show them what Albion College Women’s Lacrosse is all about. We’ve built a strong, hard-working family on the field and on this campus. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish this season.

Julie

Julie Wood #8

 

‘Freshman year has been a life-changing experience…’

My last blog post of the 2015 season! So much has changed since spring break, but the friendships we all made are still here, stronger than ever. For the banquet each class had to prepare a speech, which I volunteered to give. The night before the banquet, all of the freshmen gathered in the first floor lounge of Wesley Hall and tried to put into words how the year went for us. What was expected to be a twenty-minute conversation quickly turned into an hour because no one could decide what they wanted to say. It was hard to express how we all felt in the two-minute time slot that coach gave us, which by the way didn’t really exist but we still freaked out about it anyway. Here is the speech we came up with:

As a freshman, it’s very hard coming on to a new team when you don’t know what to expect. But this program, and everyone that defines it, have made us feel more than comfortable and welcome — they have made us their family. For Wiegs (#10 Lauren Wiegand), ‘got your back’ is so awesome knowing that no matter what is going on some will always be there for her. For Freddy (#22 Makenzie Frederickson), being a part of this team has made her freshman year a phenomenal experience. Shannon (#14 Shannon Kahl) was nervous going in but now has 16 sisters who always have her back. Tay (#7 Taylor Nelson…who hails from CA) wants to thank the parents who have all unknowingly adopted her. Albion is her home away from home. Cait (#6 Cait Gaitley) has never felt more accepted by a team and is so proud to call you all her family. Sabrina (#26 Sabrina Silvestri) feels the true meaning of ‘got your back’ and quote, “Which is a new experience for me.” And last but certainly not least Molly (#23 Molly Hubbell) says I love this dysfunctional family and quote, “always has your back my dudes.”

We’d like to thank the Seniors for all the support and guidance they have given us. We will miss them! As well as the Sophomores and Juniors for looking out for a us all year. Thank you coaches for helping us grow not just as lacrosse players but also as better, more driven people. Thank you families for supporting us in this new journey where we will surely come out stronger, more determined, and wiser than we have ever been. We’d like to thank everyone for an amazing first year. We are so excited to see where the next three years will take us but are sure with all these amazing people supporting us and having our backs we will continue to be the best we can possibly be.

P1000841

ACWL 2015 at our annual team banquet, championship trophy in hand

Freshman year has been such a life-changing experience. After our NCAA tournament game last Sunday, I came home and was greeted by some old friends who have known me my whole life. They told me how they can tell I changed a lot, and to be honest, I feel it too. This year has made me more responsible, more motivated, and more driven then I can ever remember being before. A great deal of this progress is thanks to being a part of this team.

I’ve learned so much this year and not just from taking notes when V (starting goalkeeper Victoria Della Pia) is in the net! When you step out onto the field as a freshman it’s true you don’t know what to expect, but through all the ups and downs, good times and bad, you’re sure to end up on top with your team right beside you. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this team and this program have made me into a better person, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring. So thank you all, and have a good summer! GO BRITS!

~ Natalie Krauss, #00