Defender learns from excursion
By MATTHEW DeFRANKS | Thursday, March 3, 2011
Some people wonder just how crazy Spain was during this past summer’s World Cup. Notre Dame senior defender Lauren Fenlon isn’t one of those people, as she was able to soak in a different culture while teaching citizens of other countries.
“It was insane and so much fun,” Fenlon said of the soccer-crazed nation.
Her journey through Spain (and its hostels), however, was just the start of a four-country tour of Europe. Fenlon, along with a friend from Monmouth University, traveled the continent not only to take a vacation, but also to play and coach lacrosse.
After visiting Madrid and Barcelona, the duo continued to the Czech Republic, where they were treated to an unexpected but welcome surprise.”We thought we were just coaching the Czech team, go over, assist, run the clinic,” Fenlon said. “Turns out we were playing with them.”
The Czech team was varied, consisting of players ranging from 18 to 45 years old. A Dayton, Md., native, Fenlon was impressed with some of the older players’ skills and even said one woman brought her 18-year-old son to the game.
“She was so good at lacrosse,” Fenlon said. “She was moving up and down the field better than some of the younger players.”
The pair also had to deal with the language barrier between themselves and the team, at times asking the referees to translate what their teammates had said to them.
“It turned out to be a very rewarding experience,” Fenlon said. “I felt like I learned a lot more from them than I actually taught them.”
Next, Fenlon traveled to Austria, a country with only about 40 girls playing lacrosse nationwide, to coach the game. They shared drills for practice and plays for games in an effort to help spread the game across the nation.
“It was great to hear the other side of the story because it’s not as widespread as it is here,” Fenlon said. “Over here, we are raised to play lacrosse.”
Fenlon finished the trip with a vacation in Ireland, where she got to see the small towns that her great-grandparents grew up in.
“It was a great experience to be over there but I got back appreciating so much here,” Fenlon said. “Working with other team members taught me lessons on how to be a better leader, how to work with different types of people.”
Last year, Fenlon recorded 27 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers as the Irish finished 11-7. So far this season, she has scooped up three ground balls and caused two turnovers in helping No. 11 Notre Dame to a 2-2 start.
“She’s very underrated. She does not get a lot of recognition but she does a lot for us,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said.
When it comes to Fenlon, the stats do not tell the entire story, according to Coyne.
“She’s probably one of the most mentally tough players I’ve ever coached,” Coyne said.
If the season goes the way Fenlon and Irish want, she will have to do even more traveling, this time to Stony Brook, N.Y., the site of the NCAA championship.