In honor of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, Jenny Levy, the head women's lacrosse coach at the University of North Carolina and for the U.S. women's national team, penned this letter to the sport of lacrosse, celebrating her journey with the game:

February 5, 2020

Dear Lacrosse,

There were no girls' lacrosse teams when I was in elementary school. I had never been to a practice or played in a game, but lacrosse, you were my first love. I grew up with lacrosse all around me; going to my dad’s club games, walking up to Homewood Field for games and playing catch in the backyard with my dad. All I wanted to do was play. 

As the lone 6th grader on the brand new 7th/8th grade lacrosse team, my uncomfortable, nervous and awkward self was a stark contrast to the mature confident 8th graders. However, when the balls rolled out for practice, my pre-teen anxiety vanished. Lacrosse you encouraged me to be aggressive, be bold and assert myself. With you by my side, I learned to take risks. 

I switched middle schools. Alone and lacking confidence, I wasn’t sure where to start. The lacrosse field was the place that helped me find my way.  Lacrosse you gave me strength to face new challenges, make new friends and build confidence.

In high school, I suffered the all too common ACL injury. Lacrosse, I was lost without you. Maybe it was a warning that I had gotten too comfortable and took things for granted. But in the face of adversity, I realized true hard work and resilience. The need to get back to lacrosse revealed my priorities and led me forward with greater vision and appreciation for my opportunities.

Collegiate lacrosse was truly transformational. You led me to teammates and coaches who pushed me physically, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes the failures were ugly, but the lessons were never forgotten.  Lacrosse, through you, I watched the power of collective hard work, belief and selflessness transform young women into champions for life.   

Lacrosse, the lessons have not always been easy, but the struggle and journey has helped me build confidence and find my greatest strengths.  Today, I wear the hat of coach. Bestowed upon me is the responsibility to usher these lessons to the next generation of courageous young women to help them find their way. 

Lacrosse, you have had the single biggest impact on the trajectory of my life, I promise to pay it forward, with you by my side of course.

Sincerely,

Jenny Levy