The score was 10-10 with 1 minute left in the game, and junior defenseman Elie Cole sprinted down the field with the ball in her stick. A wave of exhilaration overcame her as she glanced past the twenty-something scouts staring at her from the sidelines. This would be the most important game of the month for Cole.
“I just remember saying, ‘You need to play so well,’” Cole said. “Something got into me, and I just played the best I’ve ever played.”
A week after the tournament match in Florida, Cole received a call from Elizabeth Fratzke, the women’s lacrosse coach at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, to recruit Cole for the last spot on William and Mary’s 2019 women’s lacrosse roster. Cole said she was ecstatic and talked the proposal over with her family and friends. Cole said she was ecstatic and talked the proposal over with her family and friends, knowing that William and Mary was the place she wanted to spend the next four years of her life at.
“I decided that it was the place for me and called her back the next day,” Cole said.
Lacrosse was not initially easy for Cole, however, said junior Lily Keville.
“After the first practice I was crying and told my mom I was ready to quit,” Cole said. “But she said, ‘No, you have to go back to the second practice.’”
Cole said she realized that she could still have fun on the team with her friends despite not being one of the better players. It was getting over the initial fear of not being the strongest player that would shape Cole as a player.
Despite starting a couple years late, Cole has worked tremendously hard to become one of the best players, said junior Zoe Torok.
“She’ll be down at Witter every single day working out or doing something to improve,” Torok said.
“She’s the most aggressive player on the team and is a really solid, dependable player. She is definitely the one that wants it the most.”
Additionally, Cole attends team practices every day during the week, year round. On average, her practice time totals about 10 hours a week plus games and tournaments on weekends, Cole said.
In her freshman year of high school, Cole started thinking about playing lacrosse in college and started talking to schools like College of William and Mary, Vanderbilt University, and Cornell University.
“I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go,” Cole said. “I just really loved [lacrosse], and it was necessary for me to have a strong Division I program to help me keep the structure in my life.”
The process is not easy. Players have to reach out to the coaches of schools they want to play for and convince the coaches to come watch them play at tournaments across the country, Keville said.
“It takes a lot of communication with coaches and tons of emails,” Keville said. “You also have to go to lots of camps and tournaments around the country as well.”
Unfortunately, a rule change prevented colleges from reaching out to athletes until September 1 of their junior year, delaying the recruitment process for many, Torok said.
“It was kind of nice because it didn’t make me rush my decision,” Cole said. “I might have if they hadn’t made the rule change, so it gave me a lot of time to think about schools and where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.”
Cole said she was most drawn to the College of William and Mary because their Division I program didn’t have the stressful environment that she experienced on her unofficial visit to Cornell.
“I knew going into it [that] fun was something that I really wanted to have balanced with seriousness and academics,” said Cole. “I liked that at William and Mary, lacrosse was not the main thing.”
While it seems like Cole’s college decision is set, Cole said her commitment can go void at any time.
“They can drop me anytime if my SAT or ACT scores and GPA drop,” Cole said. “The same goes for me. If I decide I want to go to another school instead, I can recommit to different places.”
In the meantime, Cole said that she is looking forward to playing at the College of William and Mary and hopes to get more involved in the coaching aspects of the sport.