Sagehen lacrosse draws on sport’s history to find new perspective ahead of SCIAC championship

One player jumps up and hugs a teammate, both of her feet lifted off the ground.
Annie Price PO ’20 embraces Nicole Larson PO ’19, demonstrating how the Sagehens have grown close as a team after learning more about the game’s indigenous roots. (Amy Best • The Student Life)

On the field, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s lacrosse team (10-4, 5-2 SCIAC) is fighting for a chance to win the SCIAC title and end Sixth Street rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ (11-2, 7-0 SCIAC) 31-game SCIAC win streak.

However, that hasn’t been the Sagehens’ only focus this year. The team is also learning more about lacrosse’s history; specifically the game’s origins with the indigenous people of northeastern North America.

“This season we have been working to pay respects to the indigenous roots of lacrosse as we are predominantly a white team,” midfielder Sarah Woo PZ ’21 said.

Head coach Sarah Queener has incorporated multiple activities into normal training to educate the team on lacrosse history. The Sagehens watched the documentary “Keepers of the Game” together, which outlines how the sport has been co-opted by wealthy, white families predominantly on the East Coast.

Queener also gave a lecture explaining how the sport started, which led to a Socratic discussion during which the team came up with ways that it could pay respect to how the game began.

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Woo said the discussion centered on how the Sagehen women could carry themselves and talk about their sport.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge where the game came from when you step on the field and understanding that it is a gift to play lacrosse,” she said.

Attacker Lilly Thomey PO ’19 agreed that playing lacrosse has begun to mean more.

We take an extra second before we step on the field to acknowledge where the game of lacrosse is now compared to where it started,” Thomey said. “We play for the love of the game at its most basic level, and learning about it is so important because we all take on the responsibility of embracing the origin story by playing lacrosse.”

This education has given the team a new outlook approaching their games and practices.

“I think this knowledge has brought us closer as a team, because we all the love the sport, and now we know we are lucky to be able to play it,” Woo said.

Thomey said she has enjoyed having such a close team as a senior in her final season.

“The team has always been a solid community for me and I appreciate all of the people I have gotten to know and love,” Thomey said. “My teammates push me harder than I could do myself. I think we have great team chemistry on and off the field.”

The Sagehens are currently ranked second in the SCIAC behind CMS. It’s been a solid start, but it will require a next-level effort to advance beyond the SCIAC and the powerhouse Athenas.

The Sagehens hope to reverse last year’s conference tournament result, where CMS came out victorious in the championship game and moved on to the NCAA Tournament.

“I think we can win SCIACs; we just need to focus on discipline in practice and putting a whole game together,” Woo said.

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