Rowan Blog contributor, Public Relations major and student athlete Natalie DePersia shares her experience as a member of the Rowan University Women’s Lacrosse Team.
Like many collegiate athletes, I developed a love for my sport in high school. However, I can easily say that I loved lacrosse in high school for a completely different combination of reasons than the reasons I love lacrosse now.
My high school lacrosse team was ranked amongst the top five teams in the state. My graduating class consisted of nine players, and seven of us continued on to play lacrosse or field hockey in college.
I loved lacrosse in high school for the social aspect, to fuel my competitive edge, because my team was simply … the team to beat.
My love for lacrosse in college became way more than a social experience. Yes, I met friends I know I will have for a lifetime. However, Rowan Women’s Lacrosse gave me a fresh start. Many individuals have a variety of different experiences when they commit to a university to play a collegiate sport. Some experiences are bad, some average, some good, and some are the once-in-a-lifetime … amazing experiences.
As soon as I got to Rowan, I quickly realized I did not only love the sport, I loved the culture that was built up into the program.
There are always pros and cons of playing a sport in college. Cons may include waking up prior to 6 a.m. for Breakfast Club (a conditioning and running workout our team was required to participate in), not having as much time as a regular college student, needing to take classes at specific times in order to attend lacrosse commitments … all the normal things which in the grand scheme of things are minuscule compared to the pros playing a sport has provided me.
I genuinely love practice, I love seeing my teammates, I love my coaches, I love being able to compete, I love how the sun sets as practice ends, and I love so many other things that lacrosse has given me. But simply enough, I mainly love lacrosse because I love the action of playing lacrosse.
Last academic year, my sophomore year, I developed heart complications from Covid-19. This resulted in my inability to play lacrosse for most of the year. As a competitor, this was difficult and mentally defeating. However, this is where I learned that I loved lacrosse even more than I knew. I attended practice with a bright smile and a big spirit. I could not attend physically but I sure attended practice mentally. I listened, I learned to be a good teammate, I tried to help others, I observed. I dedicated myself to being a great sideline leader, which would not have been possible if I was fully cleared.
As a member of the Rowan Lacrosse team, the past year from an outsider’s view could be looked at as a “wasted year” for myself. However, with the help of my coaches, teammates, trainers, and friends and family outside of lacrosse, my efforts were focused elsewhere, and I developed a deeper gratification toward the sport. I realized how much I care about the sport by not playing. I realized I how much I care about the program and the people around me by not being able to be on the field and by being on the sideline.
My absence last year has only made me more excited to come back to the program this year. I may have been unable to play, but regardless, I learned more about myself as a leader, more about the program and our culture, more about the coaches and their compassion, and more about my teammates and their support.
You can follow the Rowan Women Lacrosse Team at the Instagram handle @rowanwlax.
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Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major