Byram Hills Youth Lacrosse

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Personal Experience

part of an E-Lacrosse Interview with Trish Cummings

Nothing beats personal experience, but we can learn from the experiences of others and their perspectives gained. In this May issue of Girls Lax Guide, I spoke to a number of former women's college lacrosse players who live in the Baltimore area. They have played lacrosse at different private or public high schools in the state of Maryland and continued their commitment to the sport in college at a variety of competitive Division I programs within the past five years. As collegiate level student-athletes, these players have learned many valuable lessons and have gained much insight about the college experience. For example, obviously each learned the value of balancing an intense academic course load along with a physically demanding athletic schedule. In the following paragraphs, each shares the things that they found most valuable in and around college lacrosse.

I'll start with myself. My name is Trish Cummings.

I have been writing monthly issues about the game of lacrosse for my column called, Girls Lax Guide, since November 1999 as part of the e-lacrosse website. I am from Towson, MD and went to Notre Dame Prep (NDP) for high school. I attended James Madison University and played field hockey and lacrosse. I was a member of the 1994 JMU field hockey national championship team. In my junior and senior year of college from 1996-98, I attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

In 1997, our team reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. In 1998, we played in the championship game against Maryland as a third year Division I program. During my four years as a collegiate level student-athlete, I had the opportunity to experience many valuable lessons and lasting memories that will remain with me for a lifetime. The entire season of my senior year was an amazing journey to the Final Four for the second year in a row.

Hard work and determination are the things I relied and improved on in college. Long term goals were important in those first years of the UNC program and by setting out to accomplish those, we achieved short term success, as well. In such a short amount of time the Tarheels, under the direction of Head Coach Jenny Slingluff Levy, has excelled beyond the expectations of many people. GO HEELS!

Long term goals achieved by small gains are still important to me as I am a first grade special education teacher at Norbel School, a private school in Baltimore. I am also coaching a middle school (7th/8th) grade lacrosse team at Roland Park Country School and helping coach a 13-14 girls lacrosse team at Lutherville Timonium Recreation Council (LTRC). I still enjoy playing club lacrosse myself for the Baltimore Women's Lacrosse Association (BWLA).

Andi O'Connor - Passing it On
Andi O'Connor lives in Cockeysville, MD. She went to Towson High School and continued her amazing lacrosse talent as a top player on the University of Maryland women's lacrosse team. Currently, Andi is married and has three young children while still playing for Team Toyota. I would describe Andi as the "perfect role model" for girl's lacrosse in the Baltimore area.

She gives back to the sport she loves, coordinating the 13-14 girls lacrosse program at Lutherville Timonium Recreation Council. Andi learned so much playing together with her sister on the same team at Maryland for a year. She was able to accomplish great things in lacrosse and credits many great players and coaches for her success. Andi's greatest memory from lacrosse is having the opportunity to play in the national championship game during her senior year. She hopes that she can make the difference in some young lacrosse player's life that helps them to one day do the same.

Melissa Bristow - Training for Life
Melissa Bristow lives in Baltimore, MD. She attended Roland Park Country School and went to the College of William and Mary. Melissa played field hockey in her first year and was a major contributor on the women's lacrosse team all four years. She was a strong and talented player all over the field, both on attack and defense.

Along with the development of friendships with her teammates, Melissa's greatest memories as a player at William and Mary were learning experiences that enabled her to develop strong leadership skills. She was eventually a team captain and those skills have carried over to all aspects of her life. Currently, Melissa is a second grade teacher at Roland Park. She is coaching a middle school (8th grade) lacrosse team at RPCS and is coaching a 9-10 girls lacrosse team at Kelly Post Recreation Council. She has complete knowledge and awareness of teaching the game for all ages, skill levels and styles of play.

Andrea Krumholz - Learning Discipline
Andrea Krumholz lives in Baltimore, MD. She attended Friends School and continued to play lacrosse at Dartmouth University. Andrea excelled in athletics, as a standout All-American defender on the women's lacrosse team.

She is a very confident and disciplined individual who pushes herself to reach the highest level of success both on and off the field. Currently, Andrea is pursuing a career in medicine and attends the University of Maryland Medical School. During her small amount of free time, Andrea plays club lacrosse for the Baltimore Women's Lacrosse Association (BWLA). An important lesson that college lacrosse taught her was discipline. The ability to succeed athletically at the college level is very demanding. Andrea dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine after graduation. She was able to achieve these goals through the self-discipline she learned from being a student athlete in college. Andrea believes that discipline is a critical to achieving success on the lacrosse field.

Andrea offers the following lax disciplines to practice religiously for growth as a player and a person:

  • Hold body position instead of going for the check

  • Let the referees call the game, even when you may not agree with them all the time.

  • Learn to play as a team member rather than trying to do everything on your own.

  • Work regularly on stick skills and shooting so that you can handle the ball and finish the play when it really matters.

  • Stay in shape in the off-season, working on the speed and quickness that is now essential in the college game.


Liza Shoemaker - Having Fun
Liza Shoemaker lives in Baltimore, MD. She attended Garrison Forest for high school and went on to the University of Delaware. Liza played lacrosse all four years at Delaware. She is a versatile player and a talented defender with a natural instinct to make smart decisions all over the field. Liza demonstrates a true understanding of the game on all levels.

Currently, Liza is the assistant coach for the women's lacrosse team at Towson University. She is also a member of the USA Developmental Lacrosse Team. Liza believes that lacrosse is the sport that has taught her to have fun while achieving. She plays and coaches lacrosse because she loves the game. She has made many friends and has many memories from her lacrosse travels. Liza says, "It is those people and experiences that make four hour practices, long road trips and endless sprints worth it." As a coach now, she envies every one of the freshmen that get to start from the beginning. Value that time in your life and most of all, have fun!

Aimee Vaughan - Winning as a Team
Aimee Vaughan lives in Towson, MD. She attended Dulaney High School and went on to James Madison University. Currently, Aimee is working for an accounting firm in the Baltimore area. She is coaching a 13-14 girls lacrosse team at Lutherville Timonium Recreation Council (LTRC) and plays soccer for a club team in Howard County.

She enjoyed having the opportunity to compete at such an intense level of play and against many of the best athletes in the country. In Aimee's junior year, James Madison University won the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference championship. She will always remember the great feeling of winning a conference ring while also achieving a wonderful feeling of togetherness as a team. Aimee played soccer and lacrosse all four years at JMU and is a firm believer that a team together is greater than any of the parts. As a two sport collegiate level student-athlete, Aimee displayed a motivated and competitive teamwork ethic both on and off the field. She challenged herself and others to reach their fullest potential as a team every day at practice and in games. 


Meghan Branning - Improving Skills
Meghan Branning lives in Baltimore, MD. She attended Broadneck High School and went on to James Madison University. She played lacrosse at JMU and was a major contributor on the team. As a player, Meghan displayed a positive and focused attitude who gave 100% effort everyday. Meghan really enjoyed playing against her sister, Molly Branning, who is a part of the Towson University women's lacrosse team.

During high school, Meghan and Molly would fight and get on each other's nerves, as sisters do! When they reached the Division I college level, Meghan will always treasure the moments on the field running by her sister and giggling with one another. She will also remember playing lacrosse at the Division I level as an experience she will take with her throughout her lifetime. Meghan says, "I enjoyed working hard at the game of lacrosse and watching my skill level grow each year to become a better player." Working hard at lacrosse and seeing the tangible results has influenced Meghan's life and work ethic a great deal. She is quoted as saying; "I was a support player on a team that was in the top ten every year in Division I and I worked hard to make my teammates better and to push them to reach that higher level." Finally Meghan says, "Lacrosse will always be a part of my life." 

Anne Heine - Leaning to Lead
Anne Heine lives in Towson, MD. She attended Loch Raven High School and played lacrosse all four years at the University of Richmond. Anne is an all-around natural athlete who is committed to giving her best effort all the time. Anne decided to join Richmond's underdeveloped program in hopes to be part of its beginnings and build the team.

Anne comments on her experience. Although it was not as easy as she thought it would be and very frustrating at times, Anne believes that she developed a greater sense of pride through playing at Richmond where winning did not come so easily. With a young team and a competitive schedule, every game was a challenge. "Although the record never reflected it, each year the team worked hard and gave it everything they had." says Anne, "Due to this, I think I gained a lot of discipline and patience." Being one of the more experienced players at captain for two years, Anne's role went beyond just playing at her best. She had the opportunity to motivate, support and lead a young team. This in itself gave her a feeling of accomplishment and made her experience at Richmond very worthwhile. I spoke with Anne about one of her greatest memories as a player at Richmond. It was the first (opening game) of her sophomore season against Georgetown who was ranked sixth at the time. Richmond won the game that day which was their first win ever over a top ten-ranked team. Anne feels that she made a great impact on the players and program at Richmond. She knows that her experiences and each of her teammates made a significant impact on her as well. Currently, Anne is working at Teksystems as a Business Operations Associate. She is continuing to play club lacrosse for Team Toyota this spring. 

Meghan McLaughlin - Staying the Course
Meghan McLaughlin lives in Baltimore, MD. She attended Maryvale Prep High School and went on to Duke University. Meghan played on the first Varsity Division I women's lacrosse team at Duke. She was a very valuable player and a critical part of a young, newly established team that reached the top national rankings in just a few years.

Meghan has an incredible presence as a versatile player on the field. Currently, Meghan is coaching a 13-14 girls lacrosse team at Lutherville Timonium Recreation Council (LTRC) and she is also helping coach the Varsity team at Maryvale Prep. She is still playing herself for the Team Toyota club lacrosse team. At Duke she enjoyed the great achievement of reaching the Final Four and playing Virginia in her senior year. Meghan mentioned the idea that as a first year team, there are bound to be some rough beginnings. However, Meghan insists that "developing mental toughness as a team" and staying the course to success is the key to Duke's rise to lax prominence as a top ranked team in the country.

Experience.  Now Go Get Some!
I would just like to thank everyone who contributed their experiences and wisdom. I think it's important to hear great players talk about why they love lacrosse and what helped them succeed. I hope my readers can appreciate the work ethic and discipline required both on and off the field to succeed in lax and life. Nothing beats experience, so go out and get some!