Sophomore and junior year of high school I continuously struggled with the decision to play a sport in college. Its around this time high school athletes not only need to start thinking about the schools they want to attend but also whether pursuing their sport is even realistic. The commitment, time, efforts dedicated to a high school sport pails in comparison to playing the same sport in college.
I was a three-sport athlete in high school and had been playing lacrosse since I was five years old. I was originally born in Maryland, a feeding ground for high school lacrosse athletes, but in middle school my family moved to a suburb outside of Charlotte, NC. In this new city, saying I played lacrosse was like I was speaking a foreign language. My mom and I ended up starting a girls lacrosse program for my high school and in our first year we would lose some games by 20 goals or more.
I was the only one on my high school team who had ever played lacrosse before. In order to challenge myself and to try to continue to get better, I joined numerous travel teams throughout the Charlotte area. We went to many tournaments where college scouts would come and watch us play. It was intimidating but all the more exciting to know some of these people could grant you with an amazing opportunity.
Most were smaller D3 and D2 schools offering some financial aid but every once in awhile a D1 school would reach out. Those letters were the most exciting to receive. It was also during this time I started to get burnt out of the sport I had been playing for almost 13 years. It was time to have a serious conversation about what I wanted for my future and whether lacrosse was going to be in it or not.
While continually talking to coaches and scouts of these schools, I was also applying to schools not for lacrosse. I applied to four big, out of state schools I would want to attend. I came to the decision that if lacrosse paid for my college I would play but if I could go to one of these bigger schools for the same amount, I would choose that.
I ended up getting almost a full ride to UGA based on my academic achievements in high school. UGA was also my favorite school I visited so you can only imagine my happiness. I thought I would rather go to a huge university, get involved with many organizations, a sorority, and have some free time rather than dedicate my college career to being an athlete.
There is even better news to my story. UGA doesn’t have a D1 collegiate lacrosse program but they have a WCLA team. It is essentially club lacrosse but highly competitive. I found everything I was looking for in a lacrosse collegiate team and would have time to participate in everything else I wanted to do. The commitment is less than if I were going to a school to play lacrosse but we still practice almost every day.
My lacrosse team here has become a second family for me and we even get to go to amazing tournaments in places like Colorado and California. And to my disbelief of how a club team would be, the team here at UGA is surprisingly really good. Right now we are currently ranked very high in the nation and have high hopes for winning a national championship this year.
I could not be more enthused with my decision to play a club sport versus going to school for lacrosse. I do, however, completely support those who use sports as a means of going to college. I also think that looking into the possibilities of playing at a less competitive level should be considered so you can get as much as possible out of your college experience.
I still get to play the sport I love, with people I love, while also not having to wake up at 5am for workouts.