I spent this past weekend with the LaxPower.com crew in Annapolis, Maryland for the All-Star Express tournament, the nations largest, most prestigious womens lacrosse tournament in the country. The tournament was first held in 1993 and quickly became the largest recruiting showcase in the country. Each year there are around 5,000 girls lacrosse players representing 250 teams who all play in front of a crowd of fans and college coaches.
I would say the majority of the college coaches were present and have been since the tournament started. All-Star Express was a very useful recruiting tool for me back in 1999-2000 when I played in it as Im sure it still is today for many players.
It was just as hot as I remember with temperatures maxing out around 100 degrees on some days. I have no idea how the girls run up and down the field in that type of heat, but I guess I did the same thing back in the day. When youre playing in front of an audience of college coaches you dont have time to worry about the weather you just play.
Its really fun going to these tournaments because I get to see so many formers college players and current coaches who I have known throughout the years and it is always interesting to find out one of the high school players standing in front of you goes to the high school you attended, which happened to me twice.
I spent most of the weekend in the LaxPower.com tent answering questions, handing out giveaways, doing interviews and informing people about the most popular lacrosse website in the world. The majority of the lacrosse community uses the site or has an idea of what it is so mostly we were there to support the sport of lacrosse and stay involved whether it be talking to people or collecting content for the site.
DeBeer, which is one of the best lacrosse companies out there, had a tent next to ours at the National Draw a couple weeks ago and we were neighbors again at All-Star Express. They ran a lacrosse bingo scavenger hunt that many of the teams at the tournament participated in and one of their missions for the game was to put as many LaxPower.com stickers on their goalies helmet as possible. It got a bit insane as you can see below. That is a picture of a team and their goalie, who was covered head to toe in LaxPower.com stickers. The ended up winning brand new deBeer sticks for their whole team. You go girls!
I jumped over to Villanova Stadium on Tuesday night to watch a womens lacrosse game between Villanova and the U.S. Naval Academy. I was excited to watch this game since it is Navys first year as a D-1 program and I expected them to be good considering they have an all-star coaching staff lead by former University of Maryland coach Cindy Timchal.
I was not disappointed as Erin Rawlick scored seven goals to lead the U.S. Naval Academy to a 19-8 victory over the Villanova Wildcats. Navy improves to 13-3 with the triumph while the `Cats drop to 4-12 on the campaign. The Mids broke the NCAA record for wins by a first-year program with 13. The old record of 12, held by North Carolina in 1996. I love hearing and seeing records being broken.
Highlights from the game:
Navy seized the early edge with two goals in the first 3 minutes of the contest. Katrina Nietsch fired a shot past Wildcat goalie Maggie Langan and Rawlick then scored her first goal a minute later. But Villanova answered with a Taryn McKenna goal of an assist from freshman Mia Naccarato - and one from the stick of junior Katie Stone to even things at two.
However, the Mids grabbed the lead for good at the 21 minute mark when Rawlick scored on a free position shot. Next, Mary Ruttum, Nietsch and Meg Decker added goals for Navy. Villanovas, Stone scored her second goal of the contest of a feed from freshman Nora Wallace tot narrow the gap to 6-3.
Navy scored three more times while Villanova tallied just once over the final 10 minutes of the first half due to some great defense by the Mids. The half ended with the score of 9-4 in favor of the Mids.
Rawlick picked up two more goals to extend the lead to 11-4 early in the second half before McKenna got one back for the Wildcats to make it 11-5. Rawlick then scored two more and Amanda Towey added another to push the Navy advantage to 14-5 with 21 minutes left in the game. Wallace notched an unassisted goal on a long run off a draw control for Villanova. Samantha McKillip and McKenna rounded out the Villanova scoring.
The final score was 19-8 in favor of the Mids. Navy owned a 38-14 edge in shots on the night. Langan made three saves in net for Villanova while Natalie Blandon made three in net for Navy.
Erin Rawlick was in a zone on Tuesday evening. The Navy sophomore scored seven goals for the Mids. Watch as she discusses the secrets to her success on the field.
Meg Decker continued to light up the scoreboard as the Freshman notched her 13th hat trick in a row. Watch as she explains why Navy was successful and what's it is like to be a freshman on the team.
Freshman Katrina Nietsch scored four points, including three goals in the win. Watch as she talks about her success and the Navy's victory.
I'm not sure what game I will be at next, but stay tuned for more action!
Last Sunday I headed over to my old stomping ground, the University of Richmond, to watch my college team take on the Temple Owls. I spent five years on that field, four as a player and one as a coach, but I had never been there as a spectator.
Over the years, I had faced Temple in five battles in regular season and three in post season tournament play. Now as my former team warmed up to play in one of the most important games of the year, I sat in the stands watching and soaking up every minute.
It was an interesting feeling. I wasnt sad to be a spectator like I expected, instead I was proud. Its a good feeling to see a program you helped build carrying on many of the same traditions you helped start. I have countless memories on that field, enough to last me a long time. Its nice to watch without the weight on your shoulders. On Sunday, I was simply a fan of Richmond Spiders Lacrosse.
Picture taken by John Townsend
Well, almost just a fan. Since I wasnt used to being still and quite during the game, I kept myself busy doing some video for LaxPower. During the game I captured game footage to make a highlight video. I dont have a lot of experience with video so I really had to focus on what I was doing. The game looks a lot different from behind the camera.
Richmond was dominating the beginning of the game, but Temple quickly came back and took the lead. I wasnt sure if the Spiders would be able to bounce back. Thats when things got exciting!
The beginning of the second half was all Owls as they put in four unanswered goals to get a head of the Spiders, 7-4 with 21:52 remaining in regulation. The teams went back and forth until the Spiders sparked a come back run with three goals in under two minutes.
Mandy Friend started it off taking the ball herself and hitting the upper right corner for her second goal of the game. Thirty-seconds later, Furstenburg got involved with an unassisted goal of her own. Friend then scored her third goal of the day to tie the game at nine with three minutes left to play.
Two minutes later, Richmond was put back on its heels once again as Temples Chelsea Rosiek scored off a free-position to put the Owls up, 10-9.
With just over thirty-seconds to play, a Temple foul sent freshman Anne Ryan to the eight-meter. Ryan zoomed the ball into the net to tie the game at 10 and send the game into overtime.
After the first three minutes of overtime, the score remained 10-10. With just over thirty seconds left to play in the first overtime period, Claire Cunniff took an isolation, beating three Temple defenders to put the Spiders up, 11-10. Richmond would go on to win the game over conference-rival Temple.
After the game I took an interview with Cunniff, a former teammate of mine, and the attacker who scored the game winning goal in OT to beat Temple.
Interview with Claire Cunniff:
It was a fun experience and Im looking forward to my next game Friday night when William & Mary takes on Towson at 7pm. Stay tuned!
There are camps for all different levels and it is sometimes not clear what the level of the camp is right away. The camp experience can vary from a sport daycare camp to a full on elite college recruiting camp so finding the one that is appropriate for your son or daughter is important especially with the high cost of camps these days.
That being said, if you are on the less serious end of the camp spectrum look for a beginner camp that emphasizes learning the basics in a fun and positive environment. These camps are often held at a local school or recreation facility. This type of camp should not break your bank so watch out for camps asking a fortune.
The amount of money you are willing to pay for a camp should go up with the level of coaching you expect to receive for your son or daughter so keep that in mind. Therefore, if your son or daughter has a good grasp on the basics or is simply a good athlete, an intermediate camp would be the right fit and you should expect the price to rise a bit. The same goes for an advanced camp. The price will go up.
Also, keep in mind that, no matter which level of camp you choose, there might be varying skill level groups within that camp based on the forms that you fill out when registering for the camp. Your son or daughter maybe put in the lower group because of their age, but he or she may have the experience level of kids in the upper level groups. Counselors often try and fix these problems within the first day, but if you feel that your child is getting too much information or too little information dont be afraid to ask for him or her to be moved up or down to a different group.
Lastly, if your son or daughter is looking to play a specific sport in college there are two main camps to decide between and I suggest going to both if you can manage it financially. These camps are usually the most expensive, but if your son or daughter can get a scholarship out of attending it will definitely pay off in the long run.
The first is a camp specifically for recruiting. These camps offer very little instruction, but offer a great opportunity to show your skills in a game setting. The sole purpose of these camps is to be seen by college coaches and provide a setting for those coaches to see a large group of athletes in one place at one time. Since these camps are expensive, make sure there will be college coaches actually attending. My advice is to ask around about the camp before registering and also to call the camp and ask for a CURRENT list of coaches attending the camp. College coaches are very busy and their schedules can change so the list of coaches on the camp brochure may not be the same as the list of coaches present on the actual day of camp. Also, if your son or daughter is interested in a specific school, make sure they email the coach to let the coach know of their interest in the school and the camps and tournaments they will be attending.
The second type of camp is a college specific camp. If your son or daughter is interested in attending the University of Maryland or Holy Cross, sign them up for their camp. The majority of colleges offer their own camps and this is a great way to be seen and show the coach you are really interested. I worked the camp at my college for 5 years and each year we brought on at least one girl to the team who had attended camp. Also, if you are on the college campus the coach is able to speak with your son or daughter, unlike situations outside of campus, due to NCAA rules. This provides a great advantage to your son or daughter. It is also never a bad idea to get to know the school you are interested in a little better by spending some quality time there and many camps offer campus and sport facility tours to campers.
I have one last piece of advice for you if your son or daughter is looking to play in college and attend one of these camps. Remind them that coaches are not only going to be looking for how they react on the field, but they are also going to be looking for how they react off the field. I cant even tell you how many kids I have seen blow their chance by goofing off with friends or showing up late. It is really important to show your best self, not only on the field, but off the field.
As you can see there is a wide variety of camps to choose from and its important to pick the right one for your son or daughter and for the right price. You want your son or daughter to get the most out of their camp experience so remember to do some research and dont be afraid to ask for them to be moved up or down once they are there. Good luck at camp. It's a great experience and one everyone should enjoy.
My Mom was in town last weekend so we decided to head over to Escondido to check out the Wild Animal Park. It was a really cool experience. The main purpose of the park is to give the animals a natural habitat to live and reproduce outside of the San Diego Zoo. The parks existence has helped many animals from becoming extinct and has served as an excellent resource for animal research.
You have several options once inside the park depending on the experience you are looking for and the amount of money you want to spend. We opted for the best value tickets which included a Journey into Africa tour ride. The tour was an amazing expedition into some of the field exhibits, allowing us the chance to see the animals on a closer level. I was surprised to see such diverse animals living side by side in the same exhibits. Furthermore, I was even more surprised to see their predators lurking in exhibits adjacent to them. The tour guide explained to us that many of the animals are released back into the wild so in order to keep them alert, they have their predators just close enough to smell. In the slide show you can see the different animals co-existing, which is unlike what you see at the majority of zoos.
The Wild Animal Park was a wonderful experience and I would definitely recommend it. For more information about the park visit San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park.
Life has been really busy recently with work and numerous lacrosse obligations I have undertaken. Unfortunately, my plan for healing my back and getting back into shape has suffered because of it. After realizing my lapse this weekend, I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. The article, Yoga Therapy for Athletes, made me realize yoga was going to be the tool to get me back to an active lifestyle. So, I roped my friend and former teammate, Kristy, into going to hot yoga with me on Monday night.
It seemed innocent enough and I figured the heat would be great for my extremely tight muscles. Well, the heat was good for my muscles, but it came with a price. I dont even know if I can explain the intensity of the heat in this room. In the first ten minutes, while going through some postural awareness and breathing exercises, I caught my mind pondering over an escape route. One look at Kristy and I broke down laughing, knowing very well she was thinking the same thing. I pulled myself together and mouthed to Kristy with a smirk, Dont let hot yoga girl beat you. This expression was first said by our coach in college, Sue Murphy, who threatened us all before going into a kick boxing class that, if we let Aerobic Girl beat us we would surely regret it. That being said, Hot Yoga Girl could crank the heat up as high as she wanted and we were going to melt into the floor before we walked out of that door.
The instructor, Cindy aka Hot Yoga Girl, guided us through some deep breathing exercises before taking us through the different poses and stretches. I warned Cindy that I was rehabbing some pretty serious abdominal, back, and hip injuries before we started so she gave me so alternative options just in case.
When the class ended Kristy and I thanked Cindy, peeled ourselves off the mats, and dragged ourselves out the door to the outside air we had been longing for. Im not sure if I was in any state to drive, but somehow we ended up at Dennys. Yes, I realize this isnt the healthiest option, especially not after what we just went through to get healthy, but we both felt so drained that we needed to replenish. Naturally, two Grand Slam breakfasts, several pitchers of water later, clean plates were the only thing left.
After arriving back at the house we discussed the days events and came to the conclusion that although hot yoga was way more intense than we ever imagined, we would return. Besides feeling absolutely drained, our bodies felt great. My muscles felt stronger and more flexible. The benefits of yoga are incredible and the heat, although somewhat painful, just takes some getting used to. We will be returning later this week for round two! Oh and we will not be going to Dennys this time.
This is not me in the picture, but this pose is great. It really helped me stretch out my abs, hips, and quads.
This past weekend I brought my club team, SD Rip Elite, to the Adrenaline Challenge lacrosse tournament in San Diego. I had never been so I wasnt exactly sure what to expect, but I was thoroughly impressed with the level of competition and how smoothly the tournament went. The tournament is used as a recruiting tool, a sort of showcase for high school level players, both girls and boys, to show off for the college coaches.
Lauren Dachille and me!
We had our first game at 9am Saturday morning against a team from the Bay Area called BearLax. The game went really well, in fact we had to make the girls stall a bit so the score wouldnt get too out of hand. Its good and bad to start off a tournament with such a big win though; it can work in your favor and give you confidence or it can boost your ego too much making you lose your focus. Thankfully, it worked in our favor. The girls played really hard the entire game and won big in our next two games against the LaxDawg Royal and ATX too. Not only were they playing well individually, but their teamwork was what won the games.
SD Rip Elite
Sunday morning was our first true test as we went up against Element 5 Elite, who just so happens to be coached by two of my best friends out here Kristy Gallagher and Dana Cappello. We ended up losing 9-2, which really dropped the spirits of the girls. We played sloppy and were inconsistent. The game however, was a great learning tool. Its great to win games, but youll never learn anything unless your tested by some serious competition and tested we were. So we went over our weaknesses and were able to find some strength in what was a pretty ugly game. Once we evaluated our performance we were able to move on with the day, looking forward to better play.
Element 5 Elite Coaches Kristy Gallagher and Dana Cappello
The next two games went well as we beat QC Elite and then LaxDawgs Elite to advance to the finals. Naturally, Element 5 Elite was in the finals, the only team we had lost to the entire weekend. The girls had learned a lot by playing them the first time so we went in more prepared than we had the first time around. The first half turned out to be pretty tough; they were killing us on the fast break, scoring almost every time down the field. If we were able to slow them down and play settled defense we were fine, but we were only able to get them out of their rhythm on occasion. They held possession most of the time so we were given very few opportunities in our attacking end. The score was 8-2 at half and it was time to make some changes.
Element 5 Elite at Half
The first priority for the second half was to slow down their fast break, allowing us more time with the ball and to play defense. That being said, I decided to concede in the midfield. This is a strategy we used at Richmond in similar situations. Im pretty sure the girls had never seen or heard anything like this before, but I felt like it was are only chance so I quickly explained the tactic as best I could. Instead of our defenders marking up their girls, we would let them go no matter where we were on the field. We would allow them to catch the ball in the midfield while our defenders dropped back into our defensive end as quickly as possible. Our midfielders running in behind the primary defenders would be in charge of slowing the ball down in the midfield if possible while sprinting into the defense. This takes away any chance Element 5 would have with their fast break. We didnt have time to make any other changes so the attack had to be creative with the opportunities they had.
Coach Jen Cielewich Watching the Finals
The plan worked and we forced Element 5 to play settled ball with no fast break option. They only scored one goal in the second half. Unfortunately, we werent able to score enough to win, but we did win in the second half. The final score was 9-6. The girls were disappointed about losing, but I think they were excited about what they were able to achieve in the second half. It was a huge learning experience for the girls. They listened to what we taught them at halftime and were able to apply it against a really solid opponent.
Im excited about practice on Sunday and cant wait to fix some weak points in our game; that way we will be better prepared for our next tournament coming up in the last weekend of January. Im really enjoying coaching these girls. I am so proud of them for being so coachable and passionate about the game. It sounds cheesy, but its true. They truly are a great team.
In between graduation and moving out to San Diego I ran numerous clinics with my former coach from the University of Richmond, Sue Murphy, and several of my teammates. As Ive said before, my summer was jam packed with lacrosse mostly because of these clinics. We held clinics in Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut and New York and every stop was a great time. After spending my entire summer on the road, I let Sue know my time as Assistant Camp Director was done until I received a call a couple months ago and what do you know, Im back on board for one more clinic with Premier Lacrosse but this time Sue was coming to me. I am the youngest of a Richmond lax crew that lives and coaches lacrosse in San Diego so we rounded up the troops and planned a big reunion weekend.
On Thursday, Sue and her assistant coach, Allison Nuzzi, who also serves as one of my best friends, were welcomed to San Diego by six former Spiders and the fun started from there. My teammates and I are like sisters and when you put two of us, let alone seven of us, in one place you are destined for a good time and lots of trips down memory lane. So the seven of us and our former coach took San Diego by storm. We went hiking, shopping, site seeing, dabbled in the night life a bit, and of course ran a coaches and players clinic.
Both clinics were a huge success despite the buckets of rain that poured down on us from the minute we stepped on the field. I, of course, confidently told our east coast visitors that it never rains in San Diego and boy was I wrong. A little rain never hurt anybody though and thankfully both the coaches and players were troopers through it all. I was hoping to get some pictures and footage of the clinic, but being that I was ringing out my clothing I am pretty sure my camera would not have survived, so I apologize for that.
We had about 15 coaches for the 90 players that signed up for the clinic, which was great. The coaches clinic ran from 9-12 a.m. filled with discussion on drills, philosophies and strategies. The players clinic ran from 1-5 p.m., four hours filled with instruction, play and demos by the staff. Each Richmond alumni was in charge of a group of about 15 girls for station work. We taught the girls everything we could in the amount of time we were allotted and from the response we received it seemed as though every player learned a lot. It was helpful that we had so many staff members on the same page seeing as though we played for the same coach at the same program for years. In between coaching sessions we brought everyone to one cage where the staff would put on a demo showing what we were going to teach next. Needless to say, we all loved playing together again, so much so that Sue had to pretty much drag us out of the demo and force us back to our stations. As much as we enjoyed doing demos though, it was also really helpful for the players to watch the skills we were teaching before attempting them for themselves.
All in all, a lot was learned without fun being spared by the players, coaches, and staff involved in Sue Murphys Premier Lacrosse Clinic. It was a wonderful weekend and Im already pondering when and where the next clinic will be. Good times!
Here are some pictures a friend of mine took from Black's Beach Wednesday. This weeks breakers were the result of a storm center thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean and West Coast beaches have been crowded ever since.
Everything was normal about Wednesday until I found myself sitting in the dark with my eyes fixated on a black screen and my hands frozen on the keyboard. I turned around to find Toby and Geoff with similar looks of, Did I do that? written on their faces. So we waited, as if God was going to tell us what happened, but instead Bob, who runs the building, came around announcing that the power was out and wouldnt be back on until after 5 p.m. It just so happens that Wednesday also brought the biggest waves San Diego had seen in a while. So I said goodbye to my dark office and high-tailed it over to Torrey Pines State Reserve to check out the waves and go hiking.
I hadnt been to Torrey Pines State Reserve in two years, so I was excited about my excursion. After parking the car in the crowded lot, which was full of people checking out the waves themselves, I trekked up the hill into the park. I decided to venture through the North Grove Guy Fleming Trail, a 2/3-mile loop with ocean vistas, sandstone formations and great scenery. The trail wound around to the ocean where I took lots of pictures of the crashing waves from an aerial view. I finished up my hike and headed back down to the beach and, luckily, was in time for a gorgeous sunset. I sat on a bench and snapped some pictures as the sun went down. This is why I love San Diego.
Check out the video of my Wednesday afternoon excursion.
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After a summer jam-packed with lacrosse camps and clinics, I swore I was going to take a break from the sport for a bit when I arrived in California. As it turns out, that break consisted of a nine-day stretch in October where I wasnt actively involved in any form of lacrosse. What can I say: my name is Sara Allen and Im an addict? Its possible. I do really enjoy giving back to the sport that gave me so much, though, so when the opportunity to coach the SD Rip Elite team for Starz Lacrosse presented itself, I took it.
There are two SD Rip teams, Elite and Developmental, which are made up of the top high school lacrosse players throughout the greater San Diego area. Most of the players have aspirations to play at the college level so our mission is not only to develop and train them as players, but also to get them recruited and ready to play on the next level.
After several weeks of practice we had our first test in the Starz Lacrosse play day at Rancho Bernardo High School. Our first game against Quad Cities Elite team went well and we dominated most of the game. The girls gave me a bit of scare at the end when Quad Cities Elite went on a run and scored three unanswered goals to pull within three, 12-9, with five minutes left in the game--an interesting situation, but one Ive been in as both a player and a coach many times before. Since the Quad Cities Elite team had the momentum with so little time left, I had to make sure the girls kept composure and possession for as long as possible. In order to do that, winning the draw was necessary. Therefore, I strategically placed our fastest and scrappiest girls on the circle to ensure we maintained possession and moved the ball into our offensive end. Once in our offensive end the game plan was to work the ball around the outside several times, which would waste time off the clock and allow us to gain confidence before attacking the net. After all, if we have possession of the ball the other team cant score. The plan worked and we ended up winning 13-9. Phew!
We had 10 minutes to regroup before our next game against the Lax Dawgs Elite team and unfortunately, 10 minutes didnt seem to be enough time for us to regain our strength and energy. The first half was pretty ugly and we were down by 6 goals at half time. After a long talk at half time, we took the field with a passion to play, which we lacked in the first half. We scored two unanswered goals in the first five minutes and started to play well together again. Our passes were crisp and accurate, and we came up with several big game-changing plays. Unfortunately, it wasnt enough to come back and we ended up losing by 1 goal. I was proud of the girls though; they played their hearts out in the second half and were very close to pulling off a great comeback win. Well get them next time!
I was really impressed with how coachable the girls were this weekend and how much heart they showed. I had such a great time coaching them and cant wait to get back to practice this week. Who needs breaks from lacrosse anyway?
A funny side note: After the games, a few of the girls were talking about coaching middle school lacrosse and how they wanted to be cool coaches that their players would look up to. I overheard them and put in my two cents be passionate and believe in what you do and say, but most importantly, invest in a great pair of sunglasses and wear them at all times. I dont know about other sports, but I do know that lacrosse coaches wear their sunglasses no matter what the weather and will never leave home without them. I am one of them.
Here is a video from the SD Rip Developmental team game...
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Although Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles have been struggling on the field this year, I still love them. Check out this video of McNabb getting involved in the JCPenney and the NFL's Take a Player to School Day. In each NFL city, a player is chosen to take a winning child to school for a part of the day. It looks like a lot of fun for everyone involved.
Thanksgiving and football go hand in hand for me and every year I enjoy eating way too much and taking a seat next to my Dad on the couch for a day full of exciting football action. This Thanksgiving weekend I did just that and also attended the first round NCAA game between my alma mater, the University of Richmond Spiders, and the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. It was a great game as the Spiders ran through Eastern Kentucky, 31-14, to advance to the quarterfinals of NCAAs. I was excited to see some of my football friends doing so well and having their hard work pay off with a big win.
Tim Hightower, who is a Walter Payton Award finalist and a good friend of mine from school, worked extremely hard training this summer and has been having an amazing year as a result. I saw a huge difference in his agility, speed and strength as he carried for 180 yards and added a touchdown to the scoreboard. After hearing about him breaking records all year, it was great to finally see for myself how much of a difference his training has made in his game. Check out this link for the Tim Hightower Richmond Football page: University of Richmond Football: Tim Hightower
I am very thankful I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my family back east and watch Richmond take out the competition in person. The No. 6 Spiders will be facing No. 11 Wofford next Saturday in Spartansburg, S.C. Good luck, Spiders!
Last Saturday I kicked off my return to an active lifestyle by heading over to the San Diego Zoo for the Walk on the Wild Side 5k walk. I had yet to visit the world-renowned zoo so it was a great opportunity to experience a new place and kick off my active lifestyle, all in one day.
I was excited to start my new training and rehabilitation plan, but didnt realize how excited until the weekend of the Walk on the Wild Side. The night before the walk felt similar to a night before a game --maybe not to the same level, but I was definitely feeling the anticipation and energy. Saturday morning I woke up before my alarm and jumped out of bed, just like I did on game days in college. This is worth noting because I am the farthest thing from a morning person. I stretched and did some physical therapy exercises for my back for about 30 minutes. I never thought I would have to prepare my body for 30 minutes to walk three miles, but thats life. I left the house mentally and physically prepared to take on the days events.
The walk started on Zoo Drive, and took us on a unique trip before the zoo opened to the public. At the start, I laughed to myself thinking about how mentally focused and psyched up I was standing at the starting line. For the past five years Id been preparing myself that way and apparently I approached the walk in the same manner. No harm done, but definitely amusing considering the difference between a Division I college lacrosse game and a 5k walk around the zoo.
We walked past several different animal exhibits on our route, but my favorite was the panda bear exhibit. The San Diego Zoo has four pandas on-site, the largest population of pandas in the United States. Its hard to believe that these beautiful pandas are the most endangered bear species in the world. I was glad to hear that the Zoological Society continues to do its best to help the pandas and many other animals on the verge of extinction.
It was a great day and Im thrilled I had the chance to experience the San Diego Zoo by exercising and raising money for the Zoological Society. I am not sure what my next event will be at this point, but I am sure Ill treat it like a game day just like this one.
Before diving into my blog about my life after college, Id like to set the scene a bit and introduce myself. So here is a short clip about where Ive been, where I am now, and where I plan on going.
I grew up in Radnor, Pennsylvania, as a very active kid. I participated in every sport under the sun. I loved being active and trying new things so my passion for all sports grew as I did. In high school, I played soccer, basketball and lacrosse, and also participated in other sports such as snowboarding, wakeboarding and tennis. I was recruited to play both soccer and lacrosse in college but chose to pursue lacrosse. It was evident right away that I had an amazing opportunity in front of me. I fell in love with the University of Richmond and spent the next five years of my life there.
So life was good. Everything was going smoothly until I got stick checked in the head at practice one day during the fall of my freshman year. This check resulted in my first concussion and would not be my last. One concussion led to another and eventually ended my lacrosse career.
In college I endured another injury: I herniated two discs in my back which led to other problems including a partially torn oblique muscle.
Since I received a medical red shirt my sophomore year, I took a fifth year but didnt want to risk my body anymore. Many of you are probably wondering what took me so long-- I wonder the same thing--but when sports are your life you will do almost anything to keep them from slipping away. My back was so messed up at this point that even if my head was normal I most likely still would not have been able to play.
I was on board as a student assistant coach for the year and although I struggled with not being able to play, I enjoyed teaching, strategizing and creating plays for the team. It ended up being a great experience and I was able to learn a lot about myself. I graduated in May 2007 with a great education, amazing friends and teammates, leadership experience as a three-year captain, coaching experience, three Atlantic 10 championships, three NCAA appearances, a No. 8 ranking at best and, unfortunately, a pretty damaged body.
A few months after graduation and the end of my Richmond lacrosse run, I moved out to San Diego to start working for the Active Network as an online community coordinator, which is where I am today. I plan on doing a lot in the next year, including coaching lacrosse, experiencing new sporting events, traveling and, most importantly, healing my body so I can go back to leading an active lifestyle. Stay tuned and join me on my journey as I begin life after college.