Lacrosse: Past and present Northwestern lacrosse players reunite for the annual alumni game


Daily file photo by Chris Vazquez

Northwestern’s current team and former alumni. This weekend, a teams of the two groups faced off in a game.

Gabriela Carroll, Reporter

Walking into Ryan Fieldhouse, it immediately became clear the alumni game was not a normal lacrosse game. While the Northwestern alumni in matching white shirts were shooting around and hugging one another, the current team was doing something close to a normal warmup when the big screen in the Fieldhouse turned on.

As they did often Saturday afternoon, the alumni instantly started cheering. The screen played a video featuring clips from last year’s Big Ten Championship game as well as pictures from many other games. Their excitement watching their friends’ goals and their team’s success was palpable, and throughout the scrimmage, which the alumni lost 23-13, it never wavered.

“It’s a weekend everyone marks on their calendar to get the crew back together, and really just celebrate everything that was, and to celebrate the team here and show them how much support they have behind them,” said Nicole Beardsley (SESP ’18), the current director of lacrosse operations at Northwestern.

The alums, the current players and the families that had come to watch all had such pride in Northwestern and the lacrosse program. The alumni game is an annual tradition, and many come back year after year to reunite with their friends and to come back to the program.

During the scrimmage, the alumni engaged in a little extra trash talk with the current team members — a highlight being when an alum yelled that the player on the draw’s shoe was untied just before the whistle blew.

When an alum hit a beautiful behind the back shot, the others erupted into cheers. Throughout the game, the team of only 16 players was clearly having an excellent time.

“The traditions associated with Northwestern lacrosse have been an honor for me to be a part of since I was in upper elementary school,” Olivia Harpel (Weinberg ’18) said. “Now that I’m an alumna, it’s kind of bittersweet to represent that on the back end of my journey. It’s exciting to see some of the younger girls going through what we went through back when we were getting recruited, and that those traditions last over generations.”

Tara Chelios (Communication ’18) said that Northwestern’s championship tradition drew her to the school, but the community among her teammates is why she has returned for the alumni game for the two years since she graduated.

And now, she, as well as her other former teammates can watch players from the current team form their own community — some of whom she used to play with.

“Some of the incoming freshmen are so sick to run around with, because they can run circles around at least me right now,” Harpel said. “It’s really fun to see them coming in and starting off fresh and watching some of the girls that were freshmen when we were seniors filling the role of being seniors now and leading those new girls. It’s kind of like a family, you grow up and watch the younger girls grow up. Getting to come back and see that transition is really special.”

Twitter: @gablcarroll