The senior members of the Albion College women's lacrosse program are all grown up.
A year ago at this time, the program didn't have any seniors and that thrust Makenzie Frederickson (who is currently studying abroad at the University of Alicante in Spain), Cait Gaitley, Taylor Nelson, Shannon Kahl, and Lauren Wiegand into leadership roles.
With the fall non-traditional portion of the season recently completed, the seniors – with Frederickson in absentia, of course – talked about the legacy they want to leave for future generations of lacrosse players.
The seniors will lead a roster expected to be the largest Albion has ever had. And, with an infusion of a group of first-year players from California and Michigan, the Britons anticipate being more talented, as well.
"Like any fall, we worked on improving the team dynamic," Kahl, an all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association first team pick after controlling 43 draws in games against league rivals and proving to be a steady presence in the midfield last season, said. "We have a bunch of new people coming in every year, but this year it's a huge first-year class. One of the themes was getting everyone on the same page, whether that was providing an orientation to our standards or the new rules which are different from what they experienced in high school."
One of the standards Kahl referred to is how Head Coach Shanta Loecker strives to develop students of the game. As part of that, the Britons regularly meet to improve on what is known as lacrosse IQ, whether that is from watching televised games or striving to understand how the free movement, new to the game this year, will affect everyone on the field, players and officials alike.
"There was an emphasis on IQ, probably more than any other fall," Gaitley, a two-time all-MIAA first team pick who produced a league-best 60 goals last season, said. "These are drastic changes that are being introduced in hopes of making the game more fast-paced."
With a larger number on the roster, the Britons say the level of anticipation for the spring season is high. The group noted how they had players available for substitutions during the scrimmage games on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Grand Valley State University.
"We had two full sets of midfielders and that can only help when we get to the games in the spring," Kahl said. "You can get a break and then go back and give your 100 percent to the team."
Nelson added, "(The ability to come out of the game) helps in the aspect of becoming a student of the game because you learn when you come off the field. When you are on the sideline you are watching and learning about the team dynamic and how we work together."
Though fall practice has concluded, the seniors and Positivity Police leaders Jessica Mooney and Jenina Villabroza are continuing to develop the camaraderie within the team.
"Shannon and I could not keep from smiling the first time the team got together," Wiegand said. "We were walking into the Baldwin Hall dining room with this huge team. This is a positive group and there is a great energy to everything we do."
Follow the Britons on Twitter: @AlbionWLacrosse