“It’s one of those sports where you’re like, ‘Ah, man, practice… I don’t want to go,’ but then when you play in the games it’s worth it.”
Freshman Mariah Jones is referring to the sport she has been playing since junior high school and has lettered in four times during her high school career: lacrosse.
Jones played midfield for the 2009-2010 season, her first at Linfield. The lacrosse season ended April 17 with a 2-8 record, but Jones put up solid statistics, recording 32 goals and 39 points to finish as the season’s second highest scorer.
She said she chooses to keep her mind on the end result of the game instead of focusing on statistics. On a team, it shouldn’t matter who is doing all the scoring or who the leader is, as long as you win, she said laughingly.
Don’t get the wrong impression of the athlete: Winning isn’t all that appeals to her. She’s got her head on straight.
From participating in her sport, she said she has learned how to manage and prioritize her time and work with other people, all of which only complement what she gains from the team atmosphere, which includes spending time with a group of girls that she said she may not have had the opportunity to if she weren’t playing lacrosse.
“You get to meet different people,” Jones said. “Some of the seniors on the team and even some of the juniors don’t even live here. It’s almost as if I would never have met them if we weren’t teammates.”
Obviously, competition is considerably different in college than it is in high school, Jones said. Traveling is involved and opponents are varied instead of from the same conference; however, playing collegiate level lacrosse wasn’t an issue for her once she graduated. She attended games instead of spending time feeling uneasy or intimidated about playing.
“I came into it thinking it was a fun and active way to get involved,” she said. “I’d only played with one other girl on the team, so [I played with] a completely new group of girls.”
As a result of her advancement from high school to college lacrosse, Jones said at the start of the season she transitioned how she played in order to achieve equilibrium with her latest team.
“I feel I’m not a selfish player, but I do take shots,” she said.
In an attempt to describe her playing style, Jones discovered that she doesn’t know what it is — she’s too busy with her head in the game.
Fellow midfielder sophomore Taylor Fisher said that Jones pushed herself to the limit during practice and at game time.
“Mariah was a great addition to our team on and off the field,” she said. “She has speed, a killer shot and amazing stick skills. I loved having her on our team.”
Jones stands at 4 feet, 11 inches. Although, she admits that competing against girls of larger stature makes her feel slightly nervous. Bigger girls don’t worry her too much, she said — her mentality drives her while she plays.
“I’m definitely aggressive,” she said. “I think I’ve gotten three or four yellow cards this season. You have to be aggressive to play. Some lacrosse players are sneaky.”
But the competition isn’t cunning enough to catch Jones off guard. Within the time she has been a lacrosse player, she has sustained few injuries.
“During my last game, I got a pretty nice goose egg on the side of my head because a girl whacked me with a stick,” Jones said. “Other than that, besides getting stick checked on the hand or stick checked in the head or people just mauling over, I haven’t gotten any injuries.”
Her plans to play lacrosse in the future depend on her educational decisions. The elementary education major said she wants to travel abroad. January Term is not long enough to satisfy her, but she said she has yet to decide if she wants to leave during the fall or spring semester.
“If I don’t come back, it’s because of studying abroad,” Jones said. “Obviously, I’m going to put school first before lacrosse.”
Copy chief Septembre Russell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org