College in the USA

By Hannah Thurston

I distinctly remember the first time that I dreamed of playing lacrosse at college in America. At a camp, age 13, Laura Merrifield (England, Centaurs and ex-Maryland star) came to speak about her own experiences. At the end of her story, she took out several large diamond championship rings and described the feeling of winning a National Championship. I knew then that I wanted to play in the US. If you told me then that I would be following in Laura’s footsteps five years later, I would probably have laughed but somehow, my dream did actually come true.

Now, as a sophomore on the lacrosse team at Duke University in North Carolina, there are still moments when I can’t believe that I’m actually playing lacrosse at college. My walk to practice in the morning, as the sun comes up behind the chapel, often takes my breath away. Everyday Duke gives me the opportunity to challenge myself both academically and athletically and I am constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone.

In the US, lacrosse is a spring sport so the first semester in the fall is filled with practice scrimmages, running and lifting to prepare for the season. In the fall we practice four days a week with scrimmages on a Saturday. Once in season, we can practice for up to six days with one or two matches each week. It sounds a lot, but it means that every day I have the opportunity to challenge myself and get better, whether on the field or in the weight room. Last spring a highlight was our away trips and seeing parts of America that I would never otherwise have seen. We travelled to Louisville in Kentucky, wandered around Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia on our off day, and saw a -20 degree Chicago in the snow. Being injured in my first year was tough but staying injury free this fall has made me even more excited for this upcoming season.

Academically I am majoring in history and political sciences, with a minor in environmental sciences. The flexibility of the US academic system has allowed me to explore a range of interests, taking a diverse array of classes from French to philosophy to statistics. My days are busy, often running straight from practice to class and grabbing lunch on the go but I’m never bored!

I love lacrosse for all the opportunities it has given me and all the people that I have met. Lacrosse has taken me around the world: Italy, Poland, Canada, the US and more. I am so lucky to have a family of 36 other girls at Duke who are my best friends. Being away from my family isn’t always easy but having such close teammates certainly makes the long distance less hard. My family and I have sacrificed a lot to get me to Duke, but so far it has all been worth it for the opportunities and challenges that I have every single day and I can’t wait to have another three years to live out my dream.