The First Division III Week Profile for Thursday: Claire McGagh

The First Division III Week Profile for Thursday: Claire McGagh

Junior midfielder Claire McGagh (Baltimore, Md./Friends School of Baltimore) of the St. Mary's College of Maryland women's lacrosse team describes how tight the bond is between her and her classmates.

Wednesday, March 4th started off like any other day. I went to class, ate lunch with my teammates, and prepared for an away game against McDaniel, a longtime non-conference rival. After our team loaded up the Keller bus and took a headcount, I fell into my methodical routine of playing the Summer Hits of the 90's Pandora station, putting in my headphones, and drifting off into a deep sleep. This Wednesday was different, however, because midway through my slumber, I awoke to one of my fellow juniors pacing franticly back-and-forth between the bus aisles.

I slowly ascended from my comfortable sleeping position to the sight of the nine other juniors in a state of full-fledged panic. The members of the junior class sit in the back rows of the bus, with the exception of one who tends to get carsick. This individual had left her usual seat up front and was sharing with another one of my classmates, who looked particularly distressed.

"What's wrong?" I asked, in a delirious and weary haze. "Taylor forgot her uniform," my classmate responded, and as I turned my attention to Taylor I saw her face pale and eyes wide. Recognizing my teammate's anxiety, I sprang into action alongside the eight remaining members of our class. Each team member is responsible for packing their own uniform, and showing up to McDaniel without a jersey would surely yield heavy consequences for Taylor. Everyone had their phones in hand and some were discussing strategies. We had established that we were too far away from campus to ask the bus driver to turn around. At that point, we agreed to not tell Coach Valentine before we had devised a solution for fear of potential ramifications. We kept our voices hushed and plans secretive, leaving the underclassmen and lone senior to wonder what was going on. The ten of us had been together since day one of freshman year, and we were not about to let Taylor battle this misfortune alone. We were a unit, and always had been.

As we neared McDaniel our plans were set in motion. Brynn's friend was going to get Taylor's uniform from the locker room, and her boyfriend would meet the friend outside of the ARC. As that was happening, Tori's housemate was collecting the keys to my car and planned to bring them to Maggie's common room. Then, Taylor's boyfriend would quickly obtain the keys and drive to meet a team parent in Annapolis. The idea was that the parent would then grab the uniform and meet us at McDaniel College. It was a solid plan with many parts in motion, but we worried that the team parent wouldn't make it to McDaniel in time. We continued to plot and scheme, but eventually came to the consensus to tell Coach. Perhaps if she observed our convincing display of teamwork and selflessness, she wouldn't be completely furious with Taylor or our class.

Taylor marched to the front of the bus, mustering a shaky yet confident smile. She feared her punishment, but knew that regardless of the outcome she had the nine of us behind her, ready to provide unwavering support. We watched with anticipation, admiring Taylor's brave and calm demeanor. Almost immediately after revealing her predicament to Coach, the color returned to her face, a surefire sign of relief. She whispered, "She brought an extra uniform" to the back of the bus.

The ten of us erupted into cheers, hugging and high-fiving like we'd just won the NCAA Championship. The celebration carried on for a few minutes, much to the chagrin of our sleeping underclassmen. We went on to beat McDaniel 16-14 that day, leaving Westminster with a 3-0 record. The real victory, however, was our momentous display of teamwork and collaboration in helping our classmate get her uniform.

Being a Division III athlete at St. Mary's has given me so many gifts, but by far the best has been my amazing class of ten. In my college career, I have seen friends, peers, roommates, and professors come and go, but my nine lacrosse classmates have been there for me throughout. We have worked together on and off the field for three years now, contributing to the team in different ways and having all experienced unique challenges with our sport. Through fighting for playing time, living together, balancing our heavy course loads, and even managing debilitating injuries, our class has grown closer, and with age we've come to realize that we're each other's constants.

Our Division III program has allowed each of us to pursue passions outside of the classroom or game field, and the ten of us have always supported each other. Our class has watched as we've chaired community service projects, showcased talents in the Dance Show, performed plays written in theater class, and so much more. As a class, we have worked together to overcome challenges and to support our younger and older teammates in tackling the myriad of obstacles life has thrown at them. However, above all, we have been there for each other, and I can say with certainty that my junior classmates will remain a significant part of my life forever.