Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Women’s Lacrosse Makes Goals on and off the Field

This past month, Whitman’s Women’s Lacrosse team has enjoyed victories over Whittier College (18-4) and the University of Puget Sound (17-10) in a move that placed their season record at an impressive 6-3 winning record. Their whirlwind success on and off the field in the past few years has been irrefutable even through the pandemic, a new coach and the implementation of open tryouts. 

Chris Duncan, Whitman’s Interim Head Lacrosse Coach, said that the transition from Club to Varsity in 2015 was due to the team’s amazing momentum, something he proudly asserts is still a feature of the team. 

“It’s a real honor and privilege to work with such a smart and talented group of students,” Duncan said. “The credit is really all theirs, and it’s a joy to support them both on and off the field, academically and during practice.” 

Duncan added that although it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, that has yet to stop the team from moving forward, even with an influx of new players. 

“We haven’t not had our challenges this year … but [the team’s] resilience and the way they keep a growth mindset has been huge for us. We have about six students who were starters last year that are for various reasons not playing this spring,” Duncan said. “We look forward to having them back next year, but there’s been a big opportunity for some of our younger players … they’ve taken those [challenges] in stride and grown from them.”

Duncan explained that success and resilience arise when players feel safe and encouraged to expand their abilities outside their comfort zone. 

“We make sure it’s a safe place to try new things, and that as the old saying goes ‘you miss every shot you don’t take.’ We really encourage [players] to take those shots, to explore, to try to trust one another and [to understand that] a win or a loss won’t define us as a program or a team,” Duncan said.

Senior Madeleine Sherry, one of the team captains, shared how the scene has changed since she joined as one of the earlier walk-ons. 

“[The D3 team] is pretty new within the Conference. We’re getting a lot more recruits and walk-ons like myself, although I’d been playing since fourth grade so I had a little more experience,” Sherry said. “We have people of all different levels but I would say we have a really positive team atmosphere … it’s really fun to do that with all these different backgrounds.”

Sherry attributed the team’s recent success to community, trust, and diligence both on and off the field, and, of course, Coach Chris Duncan, who relieved some of the pressure the older players felt before when helping their younger peers. 

“A lot of [success] comes from our coach too, he played the men’s game his whole life so he’s really familiar with how the lacrosse field works and he teaches us how to study and adapt to other teams in a really great way,” Sherry said. “He’s been able to take more direction and move the team in a way that’s really positive and sustainable for future growth so you’re just able to play and be a player rather than be a mini-coach.”

Junior Olivia Banuelos had never heard of lacrosse before joining, and said the girls’ collective ability to foster a welcoming community is what made her stay. 

“It was always such a welcoming community no matter our skillset. Everyone was super engaging and ready to help others, it was just an amazing experience from the get-go,” Banuelos said.

“It often does feel like hard work, but it’s worth every minute to see our team thrive,” Banuelos said.

As a walk-on herself, Banuelos knows firsthand how vital that group of players is to team culture.

“Walk-ons are such a key part of our team. In the past when recruiting has been difficult between COVID and coaching leadership shifts, walk-ons have been essential. Being a walk-on myself I can testify that if you have the dedication, our team is welcoming and open to getting people to where they need to be to compete,” Banuelos said.

The Women’s Lacrosse Team is a force to be reckoned with and, like many, Banuelos is ready for the community to start giving credit where credit is due. 

“Lacrosse goes pretty unrecognized in contrast to other sports here at Whitman, we put in a lot of work and we’re winning games … We’re all so supportive of each other and our coach prioritizes our lives, our mental health, and our academic wellbeing and that’s such a healthy atmosphere to grow in,” Banuelos said.

Duncan is on the same page, and says he can’t wait for what comes next. 

The athletic strength of the Lacrosse team and their own testimony highlights exactly what makes a resilient team. So, if you want to see a winning team of skilled, determined, and tight knit athletes work together while representing Whitman and each other, both on and off the field, Whitman Women’s Lacrosse is the sport to watch.

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