Dear Generals

I wanted to write you ever since our car drove away Sunday morning. It was a perfect game day- the sun was bright, the air felt especially crisp and smelled a perfect mix of flowers and that incredible smell of grass that reminds us older folks of our youth spent on fields. While we drove away I was filled with regret that I was missing your game, and didn’t get the chance to speak to you all, to hug and hive five each and every one of you.  I missed a chance to tell you just how much what you’re achieving, working toward, sweating for, sacrificing for, and playing for means to others.

I know none of you know who I am, why should you? I graduated in 2002, and please don’t sit there too long thinking about what you were doing in 2002… I know… it was 15 years ago. But I too played lacrosse for the Generals. I was a defender and two-time captain. I shared that locker room, spent too much time in a much grosser weight room, ran that track, taped my bruised body in that training room, and wore the same blue and white.

I lived and breathed the sport growing up in Alexandria, VA, and probably much like you, I chose W&L as a way to play in college while also having some balance in my life that I feared a D1 school couldn’t provide. My freshman year I  spent a good bit of time in the training room even by fall ball. Ankles tapes, legs wrapped, ice baths. I will never forget during that first month, however, sitting on a training table and a guy plopped down.

“What sport do you play?” he asked.

“Um, lacrosse. Women’s lacrosse” I stammered.

“Oh, club sport, right?”

As if my glare could pierce his face, I looked him in the eyes and said “Nope” and limped off.

I knew in that moment this wasn’t my high school anymore where the women set the records and had the stature. The women had come so far at W&L to establish a great team by 1998, but I knew then we women had more work to do. I remember thinking that what happened in the past didn’t matter, it was up to us now to change how women’s lacrosse was perceived. We gave it everything we had- we won often enough those first two years, we practiced late, we pushed our bodies to their extremes. We limped around campus, trying to achieve the level of success only the men so far had known in the sport. To me, with 15 years of distance from my last game, I truly feel we moved the proverbial ball forward for the sport in Lexington. Following our four years, more recruits came, more teams found success, and there were more awards bestowed on W&L. Each set of classmates wanted to go further, achieve more, and make a bigger name for women’s lacrosse on campus. We have all felt equally proud to wear that uniform, and watching your current success, I’ve never been so proud of what every year of women’s lacrosse accomplished. Each and every woman that played helped this program get where it is today. Even if it was just enough success that it attracted your beloved Coach to consider moving there and take you to where you are right now.

 

I know it’s been hard for you girls. I remember what it takes to be a General. Practices after full days of classes, night games right before you have an 8am test or paper due. We spent an inordinate amount of time on a bus to Florida every year, never made it to a Fancy Dress ball, watched our friends board buses to Foxfield while we boarded our own bus to a game. Spring break was spent in town, winter break was spent at home attempting to tackle the workout program.

I know the countless things you have missed, the parties, dates, even quiet time after classes. I know what it takes to cram for exams on a bus that well… you know… smells like a bus. Spring in Lexington is also wildly wonderful. It’s also incredibly hard to stay focused on something that you feel not everyone understands. Most of my best friends didn’t play a sport and hadn’t even seen lacrosse before they met me.

Staying focused right now is an important test. Maybe one of the hardest yet in your young lives. I see that, I respect that, and don’t ever think that you’re alone in feeling that way.

All of this sacrifice, all of this time dedicated to your team, to this sport, to the Generals… I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. It’s always been worth it for me.  Of all of the things I did while at Washington and Lee, and since then in my adult life, playing lacrosse and giving it all I had is one of the most important things I’ve ever accomplished. And what I wouldn’t give to be able to do it all again…

So, my fellow Generals, enjoy every moment of this post season ride. Enjoy the practices, the time spent together on that field, in the locker room, and be proud of your dedication. Do not forget be grateful for this time you have together as a team. Know that I am with you every step of the way, watching you online and wearing my blue as often as I can. And don’t ever forget to listen to Coach… she’s world class… and also my friend.

Again, I am so proud of each and every one of you.

GO GENERALS!! PROVE IT!!!

With all my love,

Eloise

priest11

 

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