The night before the state title game, Chaparral girls lacrosse coach Jessica Livingston gathered her team for a pasta party. The Firebirds were undefeated and the 11th ranked team in the western U.S. They watched a video of their past games against Horizon, their opponent for the championship. Livingston told her team they needed to “live in the moment and play harder then we have ever played before” the next evening.
Then she told her girls to do something else.
“I made them write down an affirmation or something positive that they are going to do in the game, somewhere on their body where they would see it,” Livingston said. “I wanted them to look at it all day.”
Each girl wrote something on her wrist, hand, fingers or forearm. Goalie Chriselle Asuma-Irion wrote the acronyms “WWW” (We Will Win), “SA-TKIH” (Stay Afloat-The Key Is Hope”) and “SC!” (State Champs!). Defender Catherine Daem wrote “Never Give Up. Always Stay Strong on D.” Other girls were more specific with their prescriptions. Defenders Hilary Novatt and Ma-Li Metcalf wrote “I Will Not Let Her Beat Me on the Inside” and “I Will Stop The Fast Break,” respectively.
The affirmations certainly seemed to work. The team floored the accelerator from the start of the game and scored two goals within the first two minutes. Freshman Scarlett Sulliman, who earlier in the day had written, “Take it in. Think shot then pass,” on the inside of her left wrist, scored five goals in the first half. By halftime, the Firebirds had a 14-2 lead and went on to win 21-4.
In the middle of the first half, Chaparral senior midfielder Laura Eckhardt came limping off the field with what appeared to be an extremely painful ankle sprain. Some in the crowd speculated that Laura would not return to the game and that her high school career was over. Those people had not seen what Laura had written on herself earlier in the day.
“Giving it my everything and holding nothing back,” Laura wrote on her left wrist. “Finish what’s been 4 years in the making,” she penned outside her left thumb.
Laura held nothing back and after icing her ankle and wrapping it tightly, she re-entered the game late in the first half. She went on to score five goals and finish what she had been pursuing for her entire high school career.
For Chaparral senior Madison Pohle, life came full circle on Friday night. Five years ago, Madison watched her first lacrosse game, the 2005 state final between Chaparral and Horizon. As she sat in the stands at Paradise Valley High School that night, Madison fell in love with the sport’s speed and fluidity. She signed up for a lacrosse clinic the following week.
On Friday night, Madison took the field as one of Chaparral’s captains and had four goals and one assist. “I feel absolutely amazing right now,” Madison said after the game. When asked if she could have imagined this moment as a seventh grader when sat in the stands five years ago, Madison smiled and said, “Yeah, I pictured this.”
So did her teammates. It was written all over them. — Dan Barr