One piece of advice often given to freshmen in high school is to enjoy the experience because it goes by fast.
Apparently, a lot can change as well.
In 2015, Teagan Canning was a freshman playing lacrosse at Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. She remembers the struggles the team had on the field. The team went 4-10 in her first season, with a 3-9 record in the Independent School League.
As a senior, Canning is preparing to play lacrosse in college while helping Brooks shoot up the standings, going from 11th in a 13-team league to fourth place after seven games, starting the 2018 season 5-2 overall and a competitive 4-2 in the ISL, the record blemished only by a pair of one-goal losses to top teams.
“I think the seniors, as well as myself, wanted to build this program up,” she said. “When we started, we were one of the bottom teams of the ISL. We wanted to be in those games against the top teams. We wanted a cohesive team, a team that looked forward to coming to practice every day, and we wanted to be a team that had talent and depth.”
The top teams Canning could have been referring to were St. Mark’s (17-1 overall and 12-0 in the ISL) and Noble and Greenough (12-3 overall and 10-2 in the ISL), who were first and second in the ISL standings, respectively, in that 2015 season. Brooks played those two teams five days apart in April of that season, losing 19-4 (to Nobles) and the 21-8 (to St. Mark’s). That gap has closed. Not completely, but mostly.
Brooks lost its first game of this season to Noble and Greenough, 10-9, last month. Five days later, again (this time with a win over Pingree sandwiched between the two), the team was edged by firstplace St. Mark’s, 7-6.
Even in defeat, Canning said she is pleased with the progress and competitive spirit from the team.
“Those types of games are my favorite,” she said. “We come in as the underdog and take it to them every minute. If we had a few more minutes, we would have had a different outcome, maybe. Everyone was tied into that game and fully in and ready to play.”
Stacy Turner, enjoying her first season as the Brooks School head coach, agreed with most of what Canning said, but she did offer a differing opinion about the “underdog” comment.
“As a competitor and somebody who loves sports, these are the kind of games you play for,” she said. “For the girls to show their ability and talent in (the St. Mark’s) and the Nobles game, it’s great to be considered as a part of this group. Teagan said we’re the underdogs, but I think that’s changing. It’s a testament to the hard work the kids have put in.”
Turner and Canning offered some thoughts on why the team has had success in the early part of 2018. What jumps off the page, however, is the talent level on the field thanks to a multitude of players who will be playing in college.
Canning, an attack and captain for Brooks, committed to play her collegiate lacrosse at Division 1 University at Albany, a top program in America East. Even with a commitment in hand, however, she hasn’t rested on her laurels.
“I’m really thankful for that opportunity,” she said. “I’m proud of the way things turned out. At the same time, I’m not done developing as a player. My biggest goal is to make myself a multi-dimensional player. I’ve done a good job at that, but the work is not done for me.”
One of the other schools Canning considered, according to the Top Lax Recruits website, was Holy Cross, where she would have remained teammates with fellow captain Jordyn Arakelian, who committed there.
Fellow seniors Kathryn Delaney (Tufts) and Avery Asherman (Denison) also will play lacrosse in college next year, while juniors Caroline Yonce (Harvard) and Amanda Monahan (Davidson) also are committed to collegiate programs.
Turner may have seemed to slide into a nice situation considering the depth the team has, but she said it’s even easier because of the attitudes the players bring to the practice field.
“So many are committed and passionate about lacrosse, but they’re not done,” she said. “They’re pushing each other. They’re trying to learn, increase their technical skills. There’s no quit, which helps to elevate them. Each day, they’ve gotten better at something. They push each other. They dig deep. They’re all about being a part of this team.”
In addition to talent, Canning said leadership and incorporating the younger players (11 of the 25 players on the Brooks School roster are sophomores and freshmen) are keys to success in 2018.
“They’ve done a good job changing the culture,” Turner added. “There’s trust there. They can make a mistake. They can challenge each other. It’s really helped grow the whole program.”
Turner gave Canning a lot of credit for the positive culture the team has created.
“I’ve had the benefit of coaching Teagan in field hockey and lacrosse. She’s our goalie in field hockey,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know her well on the field. It’s her quiet and strong leadership she has. She will not berate you if you drop the ball; she’ll pick you up. She’ll praise you for the good you’re doing. That positivity keeps the team going.”
As the players and coaching staff at Brooks School look to finish the 2018 season strong, the seniors would like to see their high school careers finish strong — certainly stronger than they began.
“One of my biggest hopes is we develop as individuals and as a team,” Canning said. “we’re at the point where the jitters are gone. I want to go out on top.”