The Lacrosse Field is My Home
By Sophie Garonzik
At a very young age, rejection feels devastating – a feeling no child ever wants to experience. From friends not saving me a seat at the lunch table to losing a school election, I often felt humiliated. Leading to self-isolation, sorrow, and restriction, these experiences of mine resulted in my anxiety and severe OCD, causing the later development of a two-year-long eating disorder. Countless individuals of all ages, including myself, battle mental health-related issues every day. Learning to overcome those feelings, thoughts, and emotions was a major challenge, but I had one healthy mechanism to guide me: club lacrosse. Meeting new people who share my values helped immensely, and focusing on endeavors that allowed me to grow and contribute to my community has shaped me in a myriad of ways.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, I have been surrounded by people who eat, sleep, and breathe lacrosse for my entire life. After joining my club team at the end of fifth grade, I quickly grasped the east coast obsession. I learned that lacrosse is so much more than just a competition resulting in a win or a loss. Rather, it is a challenge that requires a group of like-minded people to communicate and cooperate in order to attain (and score) a goal.
The lacrosse field is my home - the one place I always feel safe, nurtured, and accepted. The 110-yard long field allows my body to produce energy, enhancing my respiratory system and cortisol levels. Running with all my might, endorphins are released, resulting in euphoria, calmness, and relaxation– feelings that I cherish. Even as a quiet child, lacrosse allowed me to roar. Running and dodging defenders without holding back, I have developed the strength and confidence to combat any doubts of weakness.
Over the years, I have come to utilize these qualities off of the field as well, for I now realize I am worth more than what I see in the mirror. Calling out plays and executing the draw, I have honed my leadership, and am able to stand for what I believe proudly, as opposed to feeling guilty for not complying with others’ wants. Visualizing the field in order to execute plays challenges me to strategize and communicate effectively with my teammates. The thrill of pushing myself physically and mentally while playing a game I love exhilarates me. While at school, I have been able to both share and reflect on my athletic experiences.
Thanks to my writing position in Hopelessly Yellow, a new student org at the University of Michigan that revolves around positivity and mental health, I have the opportunity to inspire, educate, and encourage others to overcome their obstacles as well. I write articles in hopes of allowing others to form personal connections to them. Being a part of Hopelessly Yellow reminds me of my inner strength and the parts of my life that are good for my mental health, like lacrosse.
My successes on the field taught me lessons I could not have anticipated. I quickly learned that being the most popular in school or class president in no way makes one a leader. The respect of teammates and peers gained through dedication, compromise, humility, compassion, and drive is what makes one a leader. My friendships are advantageous, for I am able to seek support from my teammates and coaches during challenging times. However, this respect was only attainable once I developed self-respect and security within myself. Because of lacrosse, I am better. Every experience of mine has benefited me in different ways, no matter how painful or glorious. The sport has taught me that it is okay to make mistakes; it is how we ‘bounce back’ that determines our growth. As I prepare to matriculate into my second year of college, I am confident I will calmly navigate the next three years; I now know I can overcome any challenges that come my way. Thanks to lacrosse, I realize that bumps in the road are just bumps, not roadblocks.