High school lacrosse athletes keep their teammates on track during the pandemic.
As much as local coaches tell their teams to stay ready for the spring season to resume, they also know how tough that is when a resumption seems less likely by the day.
That has not stopped some athletes from taking things into their own hands. Lakewood Ranch High girls lacrosse coach Sammy Stoltz said sophomore Campbell Laurvick has been a leader for the Mustangs since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
"She just continues to be positive and encourages her teammates to do the same," Stoltz said.
Laurvick, who started playing lacrosse in 2019, said her positive attitude comes naturally, but it is easier when she has a team and a coach that emphasizes fun. Case in point, a baking challenge that Stoltz had her team try on March 28. Each player had a full day to bake either a cake or cupcakes, Laurvick said, while adding their own flair to it. The creations were then posted on the team's Instagram page, where players and fans could vote for the top treats. Laurvick said she is not much of a baker, but tried her best, creating a purple-tinged, two-layer vanilla cake that read "Live. Love. Lax." It didn't win the vote — those honors went to senior Kelsey Le and sophomore Sydney Miller — but Laurvick said she cheered her teammates for their creations and had a fun, messy time.
Laurvick said she and the other Mustangs also hosted a virtual "Senior Night" for their elder teammates, thanking them for their efforts and recognizing their accomplishments.
The fun has not been limited to the digital realm. Laurvick said she has been talking about workouts in group text messages with her teammates, encouraging everyone to keep pushing and to not lose focus. In that regard, Laurvick has been leading by example: Every day, she said, she does 100 wall passes against the side of her house with her right hand, then does 100 with her left, while listening to country music. The music helps fill the void of her teammates' banter, she said.
"It gets lonely," Laurvick said. "We have to treat it like in-season practice, though. The season is not completely over. There is a chance it gets rescheduled. Without practice, I would be doing schoolwork all day. Practice is like a break for me."
On the Lakewood Ranch boys lacrosse team, senior Owen Ingham has been itching to get outside and shoot.
So he did, dragging a net to Summerfield Park. The routine was by himself at first, then with a few teammates — while keeping six feet apart. Shooting has been one of the few ways Ingham has been able to feel normal, he said. Staying locked inside for too long bothers him. So does the thought of a lost season. He does what he can to not think about either thing.
"This has been heartbreaking," said Ingham, who has signed with North Greenville University in South Carolina. "I can't believe my senior season might be over. I might have played my last high school game without knowing it. That would leave a sour taste in my mouth. But we don't know. There's a chance it could resume, and I have to prepare for that possibility because I hope it happens."
Like Laurvick, Ingham has been checking on teammates via text message, making sure everyone is doing something to stay ready. Ingham feels compelled to motivate them, he said, as a senior leader on a program that was expected to have a breakout season after struggling since the program was created in 2017. The Mustangs' final game was against Cardinal Mooney High, which reached the state final four in 2019. They lost, 9-7, but Ingham said the game could have gone their way if they had won a few more ground balls and shot more accurately.
"No matter what happens, LRHS lacrosse is on the rise," Ingham said. "I hope I get to play at least a few more games knowing they will be my last. If I don't, I'll still be cheering them on from college."