Seniors on Laney girls lacrosse team balance school work, play very well
Tue. May 06, 2014 at 1:41 p.m. | By Alex Riley | StarNews Staff Writer | Alex.Riley@StarNewsOnline.com
Laney Buccaneers Breda Lewis tries to stop a shot on goal against the Hoggard Vikings on April 28 at Hoggard High School in Wilmington. (Photo by Photo by Jesse Fath)
The screams are indecipherable. It's clear this group of girls has something to yell about, but no one standing outside their circle could guess what that something is.
Laney girls lacrosse practice has wrapped up, and the seniors are huddled. Moments after they gather, there are squeals of joy. Louisa Cone, a defender for the Buccaneers, just checked online and found out some good news – she's been accepted to Yale. Her teammates can't hide their excitement.
"Everyone was psyched about it. Not that many people get into Yale," classmate Breda Lewis said. "Everyone was definitely talking about it for weeks. I still can't believe it. It's crazy."
The Buccaneers finished the regular season 11-5 overall, 11-3 in conference play to tie for second-place. They'll face Chapel Hill on Saturday in the second round of Class 4A playoffs.
Wins are important. So is what happens in the classroom. Long before they were lacrosse players, a large portion of this group of seniors were friends at Noble Middle School. Many of them had grown up together, all the way back to kindergarten, but advanced classes in middle school brought them together.
"None of us played lacrosse really until eighth grade, and we all just kind of decided all at once, ‘Let's try out for lacrosse,'" Hayley Meier said. "Our friend group just happened to be a cluster and we're the intelligent people. It's just who we ended up being friends with."
By the numbers
In all, five of the eight seniors on the Laney roster are in the top 25 students in this year's senior class, including three of the top four. Cone headlines the group as the valedictorian with a 5.24 weighted grade-point average.
Cone plans to major in English at Yale. Victoria Tronzo is hoping to become a veterinarian one day after graduating from N.C. State. Meier has her sights set on UNC for pre-med studies. Lewis plans to study computer science at the University of Dallas. Alex Peacock will take on fashion merchandising at Meredith.
Between advanced placement classes, college prep courses, standardized tests and senior projects, there's a lot of school work on top of what it takes to be on the lacrosse team.
"Sometimes it's a challenge but you always have people to lean on, which I think is something that's really important," said Brittany Williams, who describes herself as the science nerd of the team. "I think that's something that's really nice. You have understanding. It's not just one person that's going through it. Literally, everyone understands where you're coming from."
They're teammates, classmates and friends, but is there any desire to one-up each other, especially when it comes to class ranking? After all, who wouldn't want to be No. 1?
"It's exciting because everyone knows where they want to go and nobody feels like someone else is beating them out of their spot or anything like that," Peyton Coleman said.
Added Cone: "We all help each other out. None of us are like all lacrosse, all the time. We're students first. We're all on the same page in that regard. I think everyone gets along well because of that."
Some nights, the girls are just, well, girls. The bus rides home are often a chance for sing-alongs that leave players hoarse. A few hours of yelling on the field and more time belting out today's hits can do that.
Other days, the bus is silent as everyone buries their noses in a book. Most of the seniors get out of classes around 1:30 p.m. and go directly to assistant coach Keith Perry's classroom to do homework. Perry is the AP chemistry teacher at Laney.
"I don't have to motivate them to do anything. I know that when they're at lacrosse practice, I have their full attention. If they have anything to do with their academics, that's a priority. I trust them," head coach Beau McCaffrey said.
And, yes, every now and then classroom carries over the field.
"Sometimes they'll be talking at practice, and they'll be using all these words and I'm like, ‘What are guys saying?,'" Peacock jokes.
With time winding down on their season and high school careers, the Laney girls are enjoying these last few weeks together. At some point, lacrosse will end. Then, they'll have one more round of final exams and projects to get through. After that, it'll be graduation day.
But the group that has been together since middle school isn't about to part ways. Plans are already in the works for spring break reunions at each other's schools or when rival ACC teams meet in football or basketball.
No matter where they go, they have each other's back. And, no matter what happens next, they're going to be happy for each other in whatever they all choose to do.
"We've had the best four years," Williams said "And I can't imagine doing it any other way."
Alex Riley: 343-2034
On Twitter: @starnewsvarsity
The Laney girls lacrosse team features several senior players who rank very highly in the class of 2014.
Name Class Rank GPA College choice
Louisa Cone - 1; 5.2* Yale
Peyton Coleman - 2; 5.1* UNC
Brittany Williams - 4; 5.1* Duke
Victoria Tronzo - 9; 4.9* N.C. State
Hayley Meier - 24; 4.7* UNC
Alex Peacock - Top 150; 3.7 Meredith
Breda Lewis - Top 150; 3.6 Univ. of Dallas
*Weighted GPAs with advanced placement classes factored in
**Senior Sam Laskody's GPA was not available for the story