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

Brits.

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

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

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.

 

‘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.

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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

Get to know our 2014-15 team captains!

This team has become a family in the last couple of years and I am so happy to be adding more people to it this year. As a team we can have a good laugh while still being focused on the goals we want to accomplish. As a captain, I hope to set a good example for the incoming freshman on and off the field, as well as all the returning players. I want this upcoming season to be successful and help everyone push to be the best they can be. I am excited to see how far we can go this year; each year we have grown so much and we should not expect anything less from this upcoming year.

-Kadie #11

kadie1Kadie Koolwick, a junior midfielder, is a pre-dental, biology major and psychology minor. She finished the 2014 season as the team’s all-time leader in draw controls, averaging 86 draw controls per season. In 2013, Kadie was selected to the All-MIAA second team.

 

 


 

As most of you know, this will be my fourth season of lacrosse at Albion. In the past three seasons we have become more competitive, fought through impossible practices, blown expectations away, and become a family. I could not be more excited to welcome our freshmen into such an amazing experience. Additionally, I am so grateful to have Kadie and Julie as my new co-captains. I know the leadership we will see in them will be outstanding, as they have become amazing role models for everyone on the team, including myself. Most of all, thinking about this season, I look forward to raising expectations, and playing every game more competitively than the last.

– Mack #2

mack1Mackenzie Novak, a senior attacker, is a double major in finance and business & organizations, and a part of the Gerstacker Institute. Mackenzie is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Alpha Xi Delta. She finished the 2014 season as the team’s all-time assist leader, and a first team All-MIAA selection.

 

 


 

As a rising junior, I am thrilled to be named one of the three captains for the 2015 season. Having met Mackenzie back in high school at a lacrosse camp and having Kadie by my side as incoming freshmen in 2012, I have built strong relationships with both girls. I can already tell our dynamic is going to work really well, and I believe each of us will bring something different to the team. Going from a team of 15 to around 25 will be very exciting. I am really looking forward to meeting our newest teammates and being a leader who is there to help them transition into college, while playing lacrosse. I hope to show them that although it can be challenging, being a student-athlete is definitely worth the experience. I can’t wait to start playing, working out and being with all of my girls again come September. Being recognized as a captain for Albion’s Women’s Lacrosse team is a huge honor; the 2015 season will be quite the journey and a season I will never forget.

– Julie #8

julie1Julie Wood, a junior attacker, is working towards a double major in business & organizations and communications. Julie is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Gerstacker Institute, and Alpha Chi Omega. In 2014, she was selected to the All-MIAA second team.

Lacrosse season has arrived!

Hey there readers,

Lacrosse season is finally here! The last two weeks have been full of practice, weight training, clinics and team bonding. I’m finally understanding what it means to “eat, breathe and live lacrosse!” Playing a sport in college is very time consuming, but there are so many benefits to being a part of the team. For one, we’ve built a family. Each girl brings a unique aspect to the team which helps us get along so well. Although practices can be tough, we all manage to encourage each other and stay positive while trying to meet our goals. I feel like the strength of any team’s bond makes a difference on the field. This is a big advantage for our team this year. Because we are low in numbers, creating strong friendships is easier. I cannot wait until March 2nd (our first game!!) to see all of our hard work come together.

Some team bonding time during our 1st annual Dow Center scavenger hunt.

Managing my time while playing lacrosse has brought on some challenges. Deciding when to start homework, finding time for lunch and dinner, realizing when it’s okay to take a power nap and making sure I get to practice on time has been a little bit of a struggle. I am lucky enough to have a team full of girls who are all dealing with similar issues. My captains constantly reassure me that it all works out and there is still time to do other things on campus. Both captains, Ashley and Mackenzie, have become awesome role models for me to look up to. Even when I stress about the little things, like time management, they’re always there to support me. Strong leaders build strong teams. I can already see their positive attitudes rubbing off on the rest of the team. This new season is going to be awesome!

Talk to you soon,

Julie