By: Aly Fries, Spider Women’s Lacrosse Sophomore

I was in fourth grade when I started playing lacrosse. My family had just moved and I was switching to a different school, so I decided to quit softball and try out something new. As soon as I started playing, I knew that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I carried around my beginner lacrosse stick from Dick’s Sporting Goods with pride, and acted like I knew all of the many rules of the game. I quickly signed up for my town’s youth summer program and a new travel team, wanting to play as much as I could.

One of my favorite memories of the start of my lacrosse career was my first travel tournament, the summer after fourth grade. I walked up to the draw circle to take the draw, and faced a sixth grader who had almost a foot of height on me. We took the face off against each other, and as we did, her stick came flying at my face, hitting me right in the mouth. Even through my mouth guard, I heard a crack, and realized that I had just shattered some of my teeth. It was not until after my team scored the first goal of the game, however, that I took my mouth guard out to see the damage. I starting spitting out blood and pieces of tooth, and my coach quickly pulled me out of the game. My coach looked at me, horrified, asking what happened, and I responded only by asking her why she took me out of the game. I remember my coach laughing as I told her they were only teeth (I had shattered four of them), and I wanted to keep playing. After a little bit of spitting and water swooshing, I packed my mouth with some gauze, put my mouth guard back in, and headed back into the game.

This day reminds me of why I started playing lacrosse in the first place. On days when the sport feels overwhelming, or during frustrating games and outcomes, we all need to be able to think back to beginning of playing our sport, when we played simply for the love of the game. In these moments, I can channel my fourth grade self; feisty, confident, and just happy to be out on the field.