The Fight to the Finish


//PICTURED ABOVE: Sporting red ribbons to honor late St. John’s coach, the varsity lacrosse team took third in SPC over St. John’s on Saturday, May 4. On May 11 in the Texas Girls High School Lacrosse League (THSGLL) State Championships, the team lost in a tough semi-finals match against Kinkaid, 12-10.

The Hockaday varsity lacrosse team was hungry for victory this season. In 2018, Hockaday varsity lacrosse won the Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC) Championship by beating the Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD), and became State Champions against The Kinkaid School in the Texas Girls High School Lacrosse League Division I final. This year, Hockaday’s varsity lacrosse team has chased to continue that legacy.

Hockaday defeated Flower Mound 14-6 in the North District (SPC) Semi-Finals on April 27, which guaranteed them a spot in the State Tournament. They lost the North District title against ESD, who is considered a school rival.

Despite those losses, the athletes prepared for future victories, putting in hours of work behind the scenes. Hockaday’s varsity lacrosse trained for weeks with practices, fitness and cryotherapy to equip them with what they needed to retain their state champion title again.

Throughout the season, in-practice fitness run by Varsity Head Coach Molly Ford was deemed “The Hunger Games” by the players, and it consisted of scrimmage-like games to test the stamina of all positions, especially midfield players.

Freshman Victoria Hart, who plays on the junior varsity team, feels that the exercise is very effective.

“The midfield players on the two teams switch, so they definitely do the most running. It’s a pretty draining exercise,” Hart explained.

These training sessions increased the endurance levels of the athletes and help to prepare their bodies for their grueling schedule of games ahead of them.

With strenuous practices and limited turnaround time between games, many players began turning to cryotherapy to help their bodies recover more efficiently. The process, which usually took around three minutes, involves getting into a body-sized chamber up to their neck and having liquid nitrogen sprayed into the air to bring skin temperature down to below -200 degrees Fahrenheit. This practice is said to decrease blood flow, inflammation and pain; it also flushes lactic acid out of the body, a chemical which creates muscle fatigue and reduces efficient muscle function. Some disagree that the process is helpful, arguing that it is dangerous and can damage skin tissue and nerves.

However, Ford strongly agreed that the cold therapy reduced recovery time for the girls during the season and that it helps their muscles retain full function.

“A lot of the girls really love cryotherapy because it helps them recover in a way that they feel ice baths can’t,” Ford said.

She has told her players to focus on fueling their bodies with the right foods, and she feels that the tradition of having a pregame meal together before games ensured that the girls ate healthy foods.

The team left for SPC in Houston Thursday, May 3. When predicting the team’s SPC results, Ford reflected on the team’s biggest opponents.

“I think Kinkaid will be a pretty tough matchup second round,” Ford said. “And then, you know, whoever we see, whether it’s St. John’s, Greenhill or ESD, it will definitely be tough competition.”

The varsity lacrosse team came home from SPC in third after defeating Episcopal 19-9 in the opening rounds but losing to Kinkaid 23-13 in the Championship Semifinals. Hockaday’s win against St. John’s was what secured them their third place title, with Kinkaid emerging in first and ESD in second.

Hockaday senior and lacrosse player Shea Castleman believed that the third-place result at SPC won’t define the team’s performance at State.

“I think that the team has come a very long way from the beginning of the season and honestly, our loss this weekend made us grow so much more in the past couple of practices and games. We have much more fight in us to show everyone,” Castleman said.

However, Castleman thinks that it is also the camaraderie of the team that makes playing together truly enjoyable. As she looks back before graduation, her team gives her a sense of pride for all the hard work they have put in over the years.

“The team chemistry makes the sport so fun and I am just so proud of how far we have come and how fun we have made the journey,” Castleman said.

Ford similarly thought that the team’s chemistry, bonds to each other and their status as returning state champions gave Hockaday an advantage.

“We’ve been there, we know the mentality and we know how to get the win accomplished,” Ford said. “This is kind of our first weekend of dipping our toe in playoffs, so it will be exciting to see how the girls will react.”

Coach John Wiener, who is finishing his first year as Hockaday’s Lacrosse Varsity Assistant Coach, had the utmost confidence that Hockaday’s lacrosse team could do anything they set their minds to.

“If we play to our full potential, I really don’t think anyone can stop us,” Wiener stated.

Coming in as the third seed, Hockaday competed in the State Tournament during the weekend of May 11. After playing against Flower Mound North, Hockaday played Kinkaid at Coppell Middle School North. In a harrowing game, Hockaday fought hard but eventually lost by a mere two goals. As the final results of the tournament, ESD emerged as the State Champions, with Kinkaid in second.

Story by Remy Finn

Photo by Alexa May