D3Week: Life & Lacrosse: A Q & A with the Mount Holyoke Lacrosse Senior Class

D3Week: Life & Lacrosse: A Q & A with the Mount Holyoke Lacrosse Senior Class

Interviewed by Cathleen Pruden '16, MHC swimming & diving

To celebrate NCAA Division III week, I sat down with the 2014 Mount Holyoke College Lacrosse seniors, Brianne Phelan (BP), Naomi Miller (NM), and Liz Randolph (LR) to get their thoughts on choosing MHC, what lacrosse has meant to them and what direction they are headed in after graduation. Enjoy this inside look at three amazing young women and the team they call family.

1. Did MHC being a Division III institution have any influence on your decision to come here?

BP: MHC as a Division III institution had some influence in my decision to come here. I wanted to play lacrosse in college without it taking over my life. I also wanted to be challenged academically and I felt Mount Holyoke was the school that could give me both. 

NM: Yes, in high school I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to study, but I did know I wanted to put a lot of focus into my academics and be in a small collaborative community. Mount Holyoke being a Division III institution has allowed me to be challenged and focused on my work, while also competing and developing my skills as an athlete.

LR: MHC being a Division III institution did indeed have a huge influence on my decision to come here. I had known for a long time that I was wanted to play lacrosse in college, and by senior year, I had decided that I would prefer to do Division 3 because I found that those schools allow you to competitively play, but also allow you to have time to focus on your education. 

2. What are your best memories as a member of this team?

BP: My best memories are with my teammates. My favorite times were on spring break trips to Colorado and Florida.

NM: One of my all-time favorite memories is winning an ECAC championship in 2013. The team had worked so hard all season and really came together as one. That feeling of family, hard work, effort, heart, and being on the same page in terms of values and commitment with a group of people will stay with me for the rest of my life.

LR: I have too many memories to decide! I think the best memories I have all exist around the fact that some of the most important people in my life I met through lacrosse. In fact, all of the close friends I made at MHC were either my teammates, or were through my teammates. I am lucky to say that I still stay in contact with my friends/teammates who graduated. 

 3. What do you feel you have contributed to the MHC Lacrosse program (or to MHC athletics in general)?

BP: I feel I have contributed my hard work and love for the program. I hope the work, passion, and energy we have put into the lacrosse program continues over the coming years. 

NM: This is a hard question because I feel like it goes both ways; what I mean by that is my coach has developed me and given me the tools to be an awesome leader and player on the field. In terms of internal contribution I feel like the lacrosse program has really developed over the years as a whole since I have been a part of it. I bring a lot of heart and passion onto the field and I am trying to translate that to the first years so they can instill it to future generations.

LR: I feel like I was able to add on to the wonderful MHC Lacrosse legacy. Although I definitely broke no records or made history at MHC, I know that I will always be remembered and loved by my teammates and my coaches, which I find to be the most important thing I could leave behind. 

4. What do you think is your role on the team?

BP: I am one of the three captains on the team. We each take a different leadership role. As a leader, I take on more of a quiet and supporting presence. I think our team is special because every single person has a leadership role. No one person is more important than the other. This community of leadership is very effective. 

NM: I am technically called a “captain” but that doesn’t really begin to summarize what my role truly is on the team. I am a mediator, delegator, friend, teammate, coach, role model, and lastly player. In practice and in games, I try to really be positive and help everyone come together to play to their highest potential.

LR: I like to think that my role on the team has to do with humor and staying positive. A lot of times, practice and games can get into our heads in a negative way, and we lose sight of why we are playing and why we love the game. I like to lighten up situations as a reminder that we are playing because we want to have fun, and we want to have fun TOGETHER. 

5. How has playing lacrosse at MHC changed you as a student and as an athlete?

BP: Playing lacrosse at MHC has changed me as a person. It has given me the confidence I once lacked, not only on the field, but also in every day life. Having the game, my team, and my coach there to support me through my time in college has been a main reason for my success. Without the support of the team and the commitment to the game over these past four years, I would not be the person I am today. 

NM: As a student I have become way more dedicated and passionate about my course work. Further, my role as a leader on the field translates into the classroom; I am the leader in group projects, I participate more in class, I try to instill guidance in discussions, and most importantly, I have gained a lot of confidence. As an athlete, I have gained a lot of perspective on what it really means to be a leader and teammate. Lacrosse always pushes me and my personality; it pushes me to be less selfish, to be adaptable to different learning styles and behavior, staying confident, resolving conflict, and always pushing the limits of what I think I am capable of.

 LR: It has certainly made me a more organized student, as well as more well rounded. Not to mention I feel that I am much more disciplined. I think a lot of the things I learned in lacrosse can definitely be translated into real life and have certainly helped me and will continue to help me grow as an individual.

6. You all had such a fantastic season last year. What are some of your goals for this season?

BP: Last year we had a great season, winning ECACs. However, this year is a new year with many new players. It will be a learning year for many of the players, but I have no doubt that we will have another successful year. Our goal is to win the NEWMAC’s and I fully believe we can. We lost a lot of amazing players last year, but we also gained so many new, strong players. I am confident in our team to make if far this season. 

NM: Half our team this year consists of new players so our biggest goal this year is to just stay positive. We are trying to get everyone on the same page right now with our program, traditions, game preparation, drills, and mentality. I have been extremely impressed with the first years’ progress and commitment so far to everything we have thrown at them. I am excited to see the more they learn and gain confidence how our season will develop.

LR: Since I happened to be abroad for the whole year last year, I unfortunately did not get to participate much in the successes of last season. As much as that was a bummer to miss out on, I think it helps keep the team in perspective as a senior on the team. Some people may be disappointed that we are not the team we were last year, but since I didn't experience it, I can't compare last year to this year, so everything is fresh for me. I just can compare this year to my freshman and sophomore year, and I can already say that this team is much closer and more cohesive than I've ever experienced. I think my main goal is to continue to help the team grow TOGETHER and realize that we have the potential to go very far. I think we are already doing a great job of learning from mistakes and improving on them, so I am just excited to see where we go from here!

7. What do you hope to be doing next year? Has lacrosse had any influence on your future plans?

 BP: Next year, I will be teaching elementary school in Mississippi through Teach For America. I am extremely excited for this opportunity! The confidence and leadership skills I have gained through lacrosse were significant in me getting this opportunity.

NM: Originally I thought I wanted to go right into graduate school, but I did a lot of reflection and I think I am going to hike the Appalachian Trail once I graduate. There are a lot of reasons why I want to do this but the biggest lesson I have learned lately is you are really on this earth once and it is important to make the most of it. Lacrosse has taught me to not hold yourself back from your own dreams and aspirations even if it does not fit the mold or norms of society. I want to be the best person I can be and do something incredible not because it looks good on paper or it is what everyone else is doing, I want to do it because I truly believe in it. The biggest take away my coach has instilled in me is that when I put my mind and passion into something I can be successful and change people’s lives.

LR:  That is a fabulous question with a vague answer. I am planning on moving to DC (Washington) with hopes of scoring some sort of job that can allow me to use my Mandarin skills (I am an Asian Studies major and I focus on Chinese). Job prospects so far? I’m still weighing my options. But after I graduate, I am planning on sitting down and applying my life away! Unfortunately, lacrosse will not be playing a role in a future career, although I can say it has really helped me on being not only a leader, but also a team player, which will certainly help in any job environment.

8. Aside from athletics, what other opportunities have you had at Mount Holyoke? What else have you been involved in?

BP: Aside from being on the lacrosse team, Mount Holyoke allowed me the opportunity of becoming a Community Based Learning Fellow. This position entails tutoring adult basic education learners, as well as recruiting, training, and managing fellow Mount Holyoke tutors. This fellowship has taught me so much and enables me to work with inspiring, motivating learners in communities surrounding Mount Holyoke.

NM: Outside of lacrosse I have had the opportunity to go abroad, last semester I went to Ireland. I was happy my coach supported me on my decision and even though it was hard to be away for the semester I really got a lot out of the experience. I have learned that lacrosse and athletics is important but it is not everything, being a good person and going out of your comfort zone will really help you grow.

LR: I am also co-chair of the social org called The Network. I actually learned of The Network from one of my favorite teammates my freshman year, and I got addicted to it! It is such a fun experience for me because I first started as a member that helped in the ideas process of running parties, but as I got older and time moved on, I have been elected to be one of the members that makes the parties happen. From writing out contracts, to budgeting and speaking to musical artists, I have been able to play an important role in bringing some fun activities to the social life of Mount Holyoke College.

9. What do you think makes Mount Holyoke special?

BP: I think what makes Mount Holyoke so special are the amazing women who go here. I also think the open, accepting environment plays a major role in making this college so special. I am inspired every day by this school and by my fellow classmates. 

NM: This sounds cliché but honestly the fact that it is an all-women’s institution. There is no other place in the world that women of all ethnicities, colors, upbringing, aspirations, and drive come together and learn. Women here have taught me a whole new level of drive and  passion that I honestly would have never been susceptible to if I didn’t come to this institution. 

LR: MHC is special in so many ways, but I guess I can narrow it down to a few. Although for my first year, I hated that MHC was an all-women's college, I really grew to love MHC for that very specific reason. It has increased my confidence as both a woman and as an educated citizen of not only the U.S., but as a citizen of the world. I have gained many skills from being at an all-women's college that I can certainly say I would not have gotten from a co-ed school.

    Another specialty of MHC that I find extremely important and wonderful is the diversity that exists here. I have been able to make so many friends from other countries, of other races, of different sexual orientations, with so many different backgrounds. It has made me more aware of the social issues that we face in the world today, and why it is important to fight for solutions to these problems. I have become much more open-minded and aware of the different people around me, and that has led me to become less selfish and more welcoming. Another specialty of MHC is the beautiful campus we live on. I just can't get enough of it! The buildings and the atmosphere are just so wonderful. The traditions also make me so happy and make me feel like I am really a part of the wonderful MHC legacy. I know that even after I graduate, I will always be a Mount Holyoke woman through and through.