Every year since 2010 on homecoming weekend, the Albion College women’s lacrosse team has put on an alumni game in which several alumni come back to play a scrimmage against the current members of the team.
Head Coach Laurie Merian keeps the game on homecoming weekend to give another reason for alumni to come back to campus along with all the other festivities.
A reason that Abby Sheklow, La Crescenta, Calif. senior, says this game means a lot to her is because of the team value of legacy.
“I think a huge part of ACWL (Albion College Women’s Lacrosse) is a legacy and the legacy that the people before us leave,” said Sheklow. “I think that has always been a super important valuable part of our team. Like working for the people before us, beside us and coming after us.”
The women’s lacrosse players anticipate the alumni game with excitement because of the hard work and familial values left behind.
“ACWL has a super loving and family environment, so it’s like seeing extended family members after a really long time without seeing them. It’s really something you look forward to,” said Sheklow.
Merian has been head coach of the women’s’ lacrosse team since 2018 and looks forward to seeing her graduated players come back to join in on the tradition.
“I haven’t completely done a whole four-year full class here yet, but even the past three years that I was able to coach some of these girls, when I saw them their sophomore year to where they left as a senior, the growth that they were able to develop, it’s amazing,” said Merian. “It’s really fun when they come back, you just get reminded of all the work that they put in. Not just practice time but on their own as well.”
Merian valued the alumni game when she first came in as a new coach because of the relationships it maintained with current players and past players.
“Having that alumni relationship is really important because they are the ones who started some traditions on the team that we continue to do on our team now,” said Merian. “It’s good for our players to be able to have that relationship with the previous players for future jobs or if the girls ever need advice in anything. It’s a good way to keep those relationships really close.”
This game gives those who graduated a chance to come back and play a game of the sport they love once again. Merian also finds the alumni game as an opportunity to connect with past players and receive feedback to improve the women’s lacrosse program.
“As a new coach, it was great personally for me to get to know the alumni when we were able to do it,” said Merian. “We have only done two alumni games since I’ve been here.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions last year, the women’s lacrosse team had to cancel their alumni game. With the alumni game reconnecting past and current players, Sheklow felt disappointed to hear the news.
“It was really disappointing not to do it, just because having the alumni game and stuff like that is like a ‘thank you’ to them,” said Sheklow. “It’s like a refresher on all these great people that you used to be able to play with and the reasons why you came to Albion is because they made Albion’s women’s lacrosse what it is.”
The women’s lacrosse senior class of 2020 had their season shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 alumni game would have been their first alumni game to be invited to but was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I think it was really hard for the seniors who had just graduated because their season was cut short anyways and then they didn’t get to have their first alumni game,” said Merian. “I think just bringing it back, a lot of people are just excited to kinda be together again.”
Normally the alumni game is the current team against alumni, but this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the game will be alumni against alumni.
“We are really excited,” said Merian. “The team understands why they can’t physically play in the game but they are very excited to cheer on the sidelines and give support to the alumni that are able to be here and play.”
Since they are not able to play, the current players will be on the sidelines cheering. The current team will wave pom-poms to get in the spirit as well as wear jerseys with coordinating numbers to alumni on the field.
“Obviously we were all looking forward to playing against them. When we found out we couldn’t due to COVID, it caught us all a little off guard,” said Sheklow. “Playing the alumni game against them was something we were all looking forward to,” said Sheklow.
To bring in interaction between alumni and current players that will be missing, Assistant Coach Emily Dewaters came up with the idea of having a lacrosse tailgate for the football game following their alumni game.
“Just to be together again is just a really cool thing we can finally do,” said Merian.
The women’s lacrosse alumni game will be held on the Albion lacrosse field on Saturday at 10 a.m.