In an age which seeks to empower women, Franciscan University’s women’s lacrosse team has accepted the challenge of forming its women in an atmosphere where “confidence can grow,” according to Head Coach Maura Conant.
Lacrosse,“the fastest-growing sport in the United States,” is originally a Native American sport, said Conant. This spring is the team’s sixth season as a sport at the university since the decision was made to take it on as the next women’s sport.
Conant said that though the building years have been difficult, the team has been successful because it has developed through love of the sport and God, as well as building traditions with the team and establishing foundations for plays and defenses through team bonding events.
Senior Captain Mary Krolicki, who is the only fourth-year player on the team, said that she has loved “being able to see the sustainable unit that we’ve built,” calling lacrosse “the best thing I’ve done at Franciscan.”
She credited the success of the team over the years to Conant’s constancy, as well as the character of the women on the team, appreciating how the sport gives them the opportunity to “be missionaries on the field and to each other.”
The face of the team is a bit different this season, with large numbers from the freshman and junior classes and new players from all the classes. Krolicki has great hope for the season, as she can see the “pure athleticism” of the new players shining through and hopes to “capitalize on the raw potential and raw talent.”
Another factor which has held the team together during its founding years are three pillars which the foundational team set in place as attributes they wanted the team to be known as, said Conant.
These pillars are classy, referring to the respect which the team members have for themselves, unified, describing a “type of play that is not down on each other,” and driven, which motivates the women to become “the best lacrosse team they can be, competent and confident,” said Conant.
Additionally, the team picks two virtues to grow in each season. This year’s choices are gratitude and fearlessness, because “where there’s gratitude, there’s not going to be fear. … That’s where the joy comes through,” said Conant.
This season the team will focus on their transition game, according to Conant. “We’re looking for that middle piece for the midfield,” she said. As the season kicks off into its most intensive period, Conant said the focus is to be the best team they can be this year, while looking forward to next year’s opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Said Conant, “I have learned so much from my players. … They call me on to be the best coach and the best version of myself.”
For Krolicki, being team captain has been a rewarding experience and a “great lesson in leadership. … I am able to be open if anyone needs to talk to me … and (I can) bring things up to the coach from teammates.”
“This season I’m just excited to leave it all out on the field and to be able to be present,” said Krolicki, citing the team’s motto to “be where your feet are.”
It will be a bittersweet end for the captain, who has been playing lacrosse since third grade. “As soon as that last second ticks off that last game, I will just be eternally grateful for this team and for the sport itself,” she said.