Women’s lacrosse prepares for new season

The Norwich women's lacrosse team features a lot of young players, but team leaders make sure they fit in and learn the ropes.

The Norwich women’s lacrosse team features a lot of young players, but team leaders make sure they fit in and learn the ropes.

Three days into the start of their season and Leandra Flores-Nieves looks on as her teammates go through basic passing drills that many of them had done before. But for Flores-Nieves, an 18-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colo., this was not just the beginning of her first collegiate lacrosse season; it was the beginning of her first-ever lacrosse season.

Adapting to a new sport has been aided by her athletic background. “I’m not used to the hand-eye coordination, but the running, and the stretches are similar to all the other sports I played,” said Flores-Nieves, a freshman mechanical engineering major.
Flores-Nieves joins two other freshmen who hope to take the sport by storm in their first season.
The adjustment to playing lacrosse has not been particularly arduous.
“(The team has) been pretty good. At first I was nervous to meet new people, and nervous because I was a rook at first,” Flores-Nieves said. “But it was great, they were so open to new people on the team.”
The returning players have welcomed Flores-Nieves and the other freshman, she said, and have given lots of advice on the sport.
For the returning players, a young team is nothing really new.
“I’ve been on the team since my freshman year, and adjusting to a younger team (has been) pretty easy because when I was a freshman I was in the same position, having a dominantly young team,” said Caroline Manning, a 20-year-old junior.
The Norwich women’s lacrosse team has had a large number of freshmen and sophomores since Manning has been a part of the team.
This year there are about 20 players on the team with four freshmen and seven sophomores.
“I think it makes me more sensitive to the fact (that) there are young freshmen on our team,” Manning said.
With more than half of the team consisting of underclassmen, there are plenty of opportunities for leadership.
“I’ve seen myself grow more as a player, but more as a team player. I’m more sensitive to the fact that some of the freshmen might be hesitant,” Manning said.
Manning, a criminal justice major from Duxbury, Mass., said that she tries to encourage young players, to build their confidence. “(It) is the most important thing I can do for them,” Manning said.
The younger players on the team have taken note.
“The returning players were so nice to us, (giving) us good advice. They told us how to play the sport,” Flores-Nieves said. “They weren’t mean at all and they understood where we were coming from.”
“They’ve been really supportive, they’ve helped me (and) they haven’t made me feel uncomfortable,” agreed Jessica Makucewicz, a construction management major from Long Island, N.Y.
Like Flores-Nieves, Makucewicz is an 18-year-old freshman who has never played lacrosse.
“It’s a lot different because there’s a whole lot of new technique. Practice is a lot different especially when you’re (practicing) for (a) college (team),” Makucewicz said.
The lacrosse team has dance parties in the locker room as way to create team spirit and a fun atmosphere and make sure young players feel included.
“You see the different side of them and not everyone here (in the corps) is mean and want to yell at you,” Makucewicz said. “They’re actually really supportive and they just want to make you a better person.”
Players join the team for a number of reasons. Makucewicz said that her friend got her into it, and that she was mainly motivated by the people on the team.
“I’ve always been someone who hasn’t been the best at communicating with people and kind of just jumping right into it has forced me into meeting new people, seeing how they act and making new friends,” Makucewicz said.
“Now I can go up to someone and not be as awkward,” Makucewicz said. “They don’t see me as this awkward, shy girl, they see me as a confident person that they’d like to be friends with.”
Being the only freshman on the team who had played lacrosse prior to Norwich, Teresa Segreti, a 19 year old, athletic training major, has had a different reason to be on the team.
Segreti, who is also playing on the women’s ice hockey team at Norwich, has been playing lacrosse for five years already.
“I think lacrosse is something fun to do in the off-season for me. It’s relaxing and a way to stay conditioned and still play a team sport,” said Segreti.
Segreti said she enjoys being a part of a team and that women’s lacrosse is very welcoming. Adjusting to collegiate lacrosse has not been very difficult for her.
“The high school team I came from was in the New England Prep League, so it was pretty competitive,” Segreti said.
Segreti, who is from Salisbury Mills, N.Y., explained that the New England Prep League basically consists of bigger, Division I high schools.
The only transition was getting used to having new coaches, but upperclassmen have helped with adapting.
“It’s hard sometimes getting used to a new coach style,” Segreti said. “It’s hard sometimes to feel out a coach when you’re not used to playing for them.”
Some players on women’s lacrosse also play on the women’s soccer team, where the head and assistant coaches are the same.
“During soccer season, coach Beth and Erica were like, ‘Hey, you should try lacrosse,’” Flores-Nieves said.
She discussed it with teammates who also played and decided to go for it.
The coaches try to attract players in many different ways.
“There can be (a method) in terms of when we’re looking at filling roster spots and things like that. The most important time (there) is to manage the roster size is once you’re getting up towards the higher numbers,” said head coach of women’s soccer and lacrosse at Norwich, Beth Van Parys.
Van Parys said that they try to keep the team roster around 20 people, with a maximum of 25.
Players who are willing to put in hard work, effort, be a good teammate and listen to the coaching staff are players who find spots on the roster, she said.
“Everyone can learn and everyone can contribute in their own way,” Van Parys said.
The new players on the team contribute to the team by learning and developing their style of play and broadening their skill set.
The only thing a player needs to buy is cleats and maybe a stick. But players can also acquire a lacrosse stick from Van Parys, like Manning did.
“Every year with new players and young players, they go through a period of learning and a period of gelling with the team,” Van Parys said, but that has seemed to go smoothly this year, thanks to the upperclassmen.
“I think they’re doing a great job. They are taking them under their wing and bringing them into the program, helping them learn the ins and outs,” said Erica Adams, the assistant coach of women’s soccer and lacrosse at Norwich.
The young players also bring lots of enthusiasm and revitalize the older players.
“I think the young players keep the upperclassmen motivated as far as bringing the energy and excitement,” Adams said.
After an 8-5 season last year, the players show high spirits and are working hard as the seasons approaches, with the first game set for Feb. 28 against Johnson St.
Flores-Nieves is hopeful that the game will come more easily to her as the season progresses.
“You always (have) to try your best; practice makes perfect. It’s been engraved in my mind so I guess that’s what keeps me going with lacrosse,” Flores-Nieves said.
The women’s lacrosse team’s new season begins on February 28 at 4 p.m. against Johnson State at Norwich.

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