Face-off With the Founders

The Seniors who kick-started the Lacrosse Program at FHC

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Face-off With the Founders

Zoe Lentz

Zoe Lentz

Zoe Lentz

Marcus Falcomata, Staff-Reporter At-Large

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Prior to the 2016 Spring sports season, there was discussion and excitement all over the halls of FHC, as it was announced that a girl’s lacrosse team would now be included in the options for female athletes at Howell Central.

At the time, Senior Ansley Chilcoat was immediately intrigued.

“Girl’s Lacrosse just gave me a new thing to do after dance season…,” Chilcoat said.  

Chilcoat and many other female athletes rushed to tryouts to try their hand at the new sport.

Among those athletes was current Senior Caitlyn Swaringim, who following her freshman year, had very positive things to say about her new experiences with the program.

“Being on a new team is a lot of fun and I think it’s a great opportunity to learn a new sport. The hardest part was probably learning it because there are a lot of rules and different positions…,” Swaringim said.

Now, Swaringim looks back on her career and sees how the freshness of their lacrosse experience was of benefit to the closeness the team shares today.

“Making new friends then with these teammates that I’ve been playing with for four years was perfect,” Swaringim said. “We learned this sport together and then getting into play for four years and now we’re at a good place. Seeing how much better we’ve gotten and how much closer we’ve gotten is something I could not have anticipated”

Chilcoat says that this learning environment early on has now blossomed into an environment of enthusiasts desperate to get back on the field.

“I would say a lot of people are way more into lacrosse. Like everyone just started freshman year as something fun to do in the spring, and now everyone loves it and is playing college,” Chilcoat said. “You know, everyone just wants to play all the time. So yeah, I think it’s gotten a lot better.”

Senior Jenna Merry talks of special moments between the team which make them close. Senior nights of the past have each sent off leaders of the program, and with the extreme closeness the team shares, they become some of the most memorable and passionate nights.

“I love fun Fridays, like when we play games on Fridays, and the senior nights we’ve had,” Merry said. “Last year we won our senior night, and then the whole team went out to get snow cones and just like hung out and had a good time. And it was really emotional.”

A special memory for Chilcoat was their shocking victory against a rival sophomore year.

“I think just beating Howell our sophomore year was my favorite memory,” Chilcoat said. “Our freshman year, we lost to them pretty bad. And then our sophomore season we came back even stronger and beat them 10-1 and I was just super shocked that we beat them.”

Merry expressed that there are some frustrating things about playing a sport that is not widely viewed or known.

“Educating people on the sport has been hard. People aren’t as interested in it because they don’t know much about it,” Merry said. “Anytime someone asked me what I do when I play I say lacrosse and they’re like ‘I don’t even know what that is.’ So, that’s really common. I feel like no one really knows what it’s about and stuff like that.”

Having spent an entire four years building the program, these seniors have been through highs and lows. Defeating a very highly touted Howell team sophomore year and reaching the playoffs in each of the past seasons have given them significant joy because of the work it took to get there. Struggling at the beginning of this season in a new higher division of schools and losing to clearly weaker Webster Groves team has brought them down to earth and put their nose to the grindstone.

“This year we struggled a little bit finding our footing in this higher level of playing, and so a few games were rough,” Swaringim said. Evidence of the way in which this program has been built, the leaders of the team responded to their early struggles by organizing a players only meeting to work things out.

“But then after that we had a team heart to heart and then after that everything kind of fell into place and we started playing as team again so it’s been nice,” Swaringim said.

The closeness of the girls has given them the ability to communicate and be open with each other, limiting the hostility and drama which most teams face during their seasons, and allowing the players to play without any distractions under the surface.

“I think that was really important because I love playing with these girls,” Swaringim said. “So when we were having trouble kind of figuring out how we play at this level is frustrating for everybody but I think once we found her footing and everything is, we’re ready to play.”

The communication and fraternity between teammates in the lacrosse program helps on the field, but its importance is felt off the field. Merry says that it allowed her to come out of her shell and grow to become who she is now.

“I used to be like super shy and like not really like talking to people but now I feel like [lacrosse] brought me out of my shell to become a people person and I’ve made a lot of friends that mean a lot to me.”

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