MORRISTOWN, NJ - This was supposed to be the year of Allie Ferrara, the new coach to Morristown Girls Lacrosse.
Ferrara played on the team in 2015, when it won the state sectional championship, and had returned home when coach Evan Mager stepped down after nine years building a storied program. All of the stars seemed to line up for the new coach.
“It was definitely an easy process,” said Mager after having Ferrara take over in November when he decided it was time to leave the high school to coach women’s lacrosse at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Ferrara was excited, too, about returning to her old stomping grounds. After playing on the winning team in Morristown, she went on to play division one lacrosse at Rutgers, and hoped to bring everything she had learned at that level of play to what former coach Mager called “such a smart and dedicated group.”
Of course, by now, we know how the story turned out.
After just five practices, Ferrara’s debut season was cut short. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there is no more lacrosse this season. Like all other athletes around the US and many places around the world, they are stuck at home.
Morristown’s players are sitting inside rather than playing in the competitive Stars and Stripes Division trying to write more history for the Colonials. Social distancing is what the players are practicing rather than the repetitive shuttle drills that are done before every practice and their general gear has been replaced with personal protective equipment.
Having the season pulled out from under her like that was jarring, but there will be future high school seasons for the new coach.
That is not true for the seniors.
“There is no way to describe or understand the feeling of getting your senior season ripped away from you,” said Senior Captain Logan Heher.
Like Heher and the rest of the seniors across the country, they will not be able to have the chance to play in their final season. It’s too bad a strong core of senior captains in Logan, Sara Chupak, Ava Plott, and Katie Baskin, fueled dreams of a bounceback from last year’s disappointing 5-15 record.
High School lacrosse may not be as widely followed as baseball or football, but the players’ commitment, skill, goals, and desires are no different. As in years past, the Colonials meet twice during the year, early and late when they reviewed their itinerary for what is expected of them on and off the field. The next step was team workouts in the gym of Morristown High School leading to practice one. They stuck to the schedule this season even though the coaching situation was not resolved until November. Each player took it upon themselves to prepare for the season; with workouts done at home, with one another, and at their respected travel lacrosse teams.
Like their fellow student-athletes on the baseball team, the lacrosse players worked hard at their practices, and then when they were sent home for an “extended” spring break hoped against hope that the season would resume. They have a “fighter mentality in them” said Ferrara who in a limited amount of time with them could see this in her players, each one fighting and clawing at each day to get to play the game they loved.
Initially, confined in their homes and not out on the turf, Coach Ferrara and the players found a way to stay connected. Using an app that allows for videos to be shared one player would create a workout and it was expected that everyone would post theirs.
“It was an amazing experience and a great way to unite our team during these unprecedented times,” Heher said.
Rather than wither away and accept the defeat that was coming their way, the girls decided to use their fighter mentality and prepare as if they were going to play. In those few practices, Ferrara said she saw a lot in her players.
Knowing that this could be it they “left it all out on the field” said Ferrara who felt the energy and excitement from her players.
Unfortunately, on May fourth when the NJSIAA issued a statement shortly after Gov. Murphy closed schools for the academic year in New Jersey, their seasons were over.
Rather than let this define them and be their legacy in the maroon and white, the team has decided to come together to show their friends and neighbors they are a
winning club, even if they are not scoring points on the field.
“We’re choosing to get our wins in the community,” said Ferrara who is helping organize a food drive at the Interfaith Food Pantry this Saturday.
At a time where there seems to be little, if any good happening, Ferrara and her players have found a way to show they can still come together and write an end to their story that is more than just COVID-19.
“Leave your legacy,” said Coach Ferrara, who it seems, found a way to turn around a winning team anyway.
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