By Abigail Bentz
For Unwind magazine
The women’s lacrosse program at the University of Maryland has finished in the national semifinal or championship every year since 2009. Such consistent success adds pressure to current players as they prepare for the 2017 spring season.
Junior Megan Whittle from Glenwood, Maryland will be starting for the Terps again this spring. Her sophomore season, Whittle earned 2016 Big Ten Attack Player of the Year and 2016 All-Big Ten honors. The 2015 season was filled with similar success— she was awarded 2015 All-Big Ten honors and spots on both the 2015 NCAA All-Tournament Team and the 2015 Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
Whittle’s success is a result of her talent combined with her hard work. The spring is a time of intense training and dedication to being the best.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays begin at 8:30 a.m. in order to allow time for Whittle to receive treatment from the athletic trainer before the two-hour practice starting at 10. After completing a post-practice run, Whittle begins her day as a full-time student.
“I head straight to class right after practice on my scooter on Mondays and Wednesdays,” Whittle said. “So I’m always in my practice sweat-suit running to or from practice. I may head to Xfinity after class and practice to ice bath or get extra treatment if something’s bothering me.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Whittle begins with two morning classes and has practice from 1 to 3:15 in the afternoon, which ends with a team lift. In the fall, lifts and conditioning sessions are “traditionally more rigorous,” but the team continues to work out in the spring to be ready for games.
“It’s super important as a lacrosse player to take fitness and conditioning seriously, especially now that we have a shot clock,” Whittle said. “The game is very fast, so running and lifting is key to being a great lacrosse player.”
Being a collegiate athlete means juggling hours of training and competing with earning a degree. Whittle is studying criminology and criminal justice with a minor in human development.
“There are definitely times when you have a lot on your plate, and it seems tough to fit lacrosse and school into your life, and then having to squeeze in eating, sleeping, showering, etc.,” Whittle said. “It’s a tough job, and you definitely need to have the right attitude and work ethic to be a D1 student-athlete.”
The Terps have eight away games scheduled before the NCAA tournament. With the Big Ten being widespread across the country, traveling can affect how the players perform in the classroom.
Sophomore accounting major Kelsey Cummings has been training at attack alongside Whittle and finds it challenging to travel during the spring.
“The most challenging part I guess is trying to manage your time,” Cummings said. “We tend to travel a fair amount, and it’s hard to keep up in classes when you miss so much school.”
The schedule of a student-athlete may look intimidating to some, but Whittle, like many of her teammates, enjoys the grind it takes to earn a place in the NCAA championship.
“Playing lacrosse at the University of Maryland is a dream a lot of young girls have, and the fact that I get to represent the university and play the game that I love every single day is a dream come true for me,” Whittle said.
“Without a doubt, being a student-athlete is a full-time job,” she said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”