With no women’s professional league, college lacrosse is the lifeblood of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Many are current college stars. Several are young college coaches. The colleges provide facilities, equipment, coaching, competition, top trainers and doctors and anything else you could think of to succeed at the sport’s highest level.
A select few like Andover’s Jenn Russell have managed to flourish with the National Team despite not having the access to all that a top college program provides.
But the former Brooks School and University of North Carolina great has remained among the top players in the country.
“It takes a unique person,” said National Team coach Ricky Fried, who is also the head coach of the Georgetown University women’s team. “To me, Jenn Russell is just an amazing story.”
Russell, who will turn 27 on Aug. 2, was a first-team All-American at UNC as a junior and a senior (2009-10) but since graduating, except for a brief stint as a volunteer coach at Harvard, basically has had to train on her own.
“It definitely has its challenges,” said Russell, who lives in Boston and is an assistant director for fundraising at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “I have to be extremely disciplined. ... My training has changed.”
The National Team does train together for a weekend about once every one or two months but that’s about it.
Fried describes her as “a super athletic player and a super intelligent player.”
He added, “Those two don’t always go hand in hand. Usually ‘cerebral’ probably means not as quick or as big. She blends those two together and that makes a defender who is a joy to coach.”
John McVeigh, who was an assistant coach with the girls lacrosse team when Russell was at Brooks, isn’t surprised Russell has been able to pull it off.