by Lydia Zhang
Photo by Jonathan Yong
Lacrosse was a completely new experience for me. Sure, I had played a little lacrosse before in P.E., but bear in mind that we were given a lot of handicaps. Lacrosse with the junior varsity (JV) girls’ lacrosse team was much more challenging.
The warm-up that started the practice was fairly simple—just two laps around the grass field. We ran around “cradling” our lacrosse sticks. In order to cradle with the lacrosse stick, I was instructed to move the stick in front of me in a sort of half-circle, keeping the netting facing me at all times.
The team then discussed their most recent game against St. Francis High School with JV coach Olga Galperin. I understood the discussion at first, but once terminology like “quick stick” and “cutting the eight” began to pop up, I was totally lost.
After the discussion, the team and I started doing drills. First, we played “wall ball,” where we caught and threw balls against the wall repeatedly, focusing on becoming more comfortable with our non-dominant hand. I wasn’t half-bad with my right hand and I could almost match the rest of the team. But once we all switched hands, the difference in skill level between me and the other players was pretty embarrassing. They didn’t look like the change affected them at all, yet I could barely even keep the ball in the netting.
Next, we worked on improving long passes. Every time a player caught or passed the ball, she would shout the other player’s name, making sure that there was eye contact. I was reminded of how important teamwork was in the group. As I ran up and down the field, catching and throwing as best as I could, I felt out of my element. Having never played a real team sport before, I was unfamiliar with the idea of so much communication.
Since I didn’t have a specific position, I sat out the last 45 minutes as the players “worked around the eight.” Players on offense would pass to each other, while the defense would try to intercept the ball. It became apparent that the drill’s main focus was not only on throwing and catching, but also improving coordination. In order to effectively pass the ball, the offense had to constantly talk, yelling each others’ names and encouraging one another. The defense would shout “got ball” repeatedly when guarding the player with the ball.
After one practice with the lacrosse team, I can tell that they are really comfortable working with each other. At first, I felt like I was intruding on the team. Their training is not only focused on the skills needed to play, but also on the team’s ability to communicate. Even though the team is made up of relatively new players, they already seem comfortable with each other and their coach.