LAX to the max

It’s been an active few weeks for the FSU women’s LAX team who made their debut on the Rams’ field once again.

Juniors Tara Palermo and Jordyn O’Boyle are ecstatic to celebrate the team’s victories beginning their season 2-0 against Johnson and Wales University, 19-9, and Keene State College, 21-11.

Palermo is from Mashpee – she connected with the sport in the seventh grade after joining a club team at Boston Laxachusetts.

“I played soccer my whole life and then in seventh grade I discovered lacrosse and I loved it and continued to play,” she said. “Lacrosse was always my main sport.”

O’Boyle is from Haverhill and has been committed to the sport since the third grade switching between lacrosse and basketball throughout high school. She plays for FSU’s field hockey team as well.

“One of my friend’s older sisters at school played lacrosse and he told me to just show up to one of their practices and I did,” she said. “I’ve played ever since then.”

There has never been a benching like the one the COVID-19 pandemic delivered to the sports world in 2020. Over 300 sports programs across the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA have since been cut, dropped, or suspended.

Much-anticipated games were lost due to schedule revisions and cancellations, resulting in the women only playing four games total last season.

“It was the same no matter what school you were at. It was very sad being canceled because you worked so hard in the fall to build everything up to get to the spring and you actually want to play. To just have that taken away from you, it was just a surprise honestly,” Palermo said.

Having transferred schools to Framingham, this is Palermo’s first year playing as a Ram. As an attacker, she has accumulated 15 shots, 5 draw controls, and a total 8 points scored so far in her 2021 season.

“So many emotions were going on because the seniors weren’t able to have their season,” O’Boyle said. “We’ve always been a very strong team. Going into last season, we were ranked as No. 1 in the pre-season poll, we were just looking forward to all that was going to happen.”

O’Boyle plays defense – so far she has rolled in 4 ground balls, and 1 turnover for her 2021 season.

As the sports world seemed to end before it began, both juniors couldn’t stress enough just how psyched they are to be playing as a team once again.

“I think everyone is happy things are finally getting back on track, slowly, but getting there,” Palermo said.

The team is set on making sure everyone stays safe and healthy in order not to jeopardize the rest of their season.

Their new routine for game days consists of the women first meeting with the athletic trainers to get their temperature taken and show their green card to prove they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. But after these tedious tasks, you can find these Rams having a socially-distanced dance party in the lobby before heading to the field for warmups.

The team gets tested every Tuesday and Thursday to be cleared for Thursday’s and Saturday’s games and having scheduled game days for the team means there’s a pregame bagel run ritual for these two friends.

O’Boyle said although they have to accommodate the mandated rules, such as wearing masks at practice and spacing out their bags to avoid close contact during breaks, the intensity of practices has never changed – their strength speaks volume on the field.

Palermo added, “We have such a chemistry on the field, so it’s good to be playing together and actually playing against someone else. We’ve been playing against ourselves since the fall.”

She is grateful to play lacrosse and field hockey. They help her with time management and help her make friends with her teammates. 

O’Boyle said she admires her teammates’ laughter and energy given they are together each day and said they have come back stronger than before making sure they have stayed in contact.

“When we need to be serious, we’ll be serious, but there’s always something good going on having your teammates put a smile on your face,” she said. “I think everyone is hungry to win.”

The team is more than ready to keep putting their time at work in practice on the field.

“I think everyone is hungry to win,” O’Boyle said. “We were ready to do it last year and were ripped of the opportunity, and everyone that is still here is ready to work hard.”

The women said no one loves the game of lacrosse more than Head Coach James Rippey. This is his ninth season coaching and has kept the team optimistic through this uncertain time.

“He wants what’s best for us. He puts everything he can into the game and into our practices. He puts his whole heart out for us. He never lets us settle,” O’Boyle said.

Palermo said, “He’s one of the people in the world who knows everything about women’s lacrosse if you ask him. 

“He’s always there for us if we need him and that’s a nice feeling to have,” she added.

Both student athletes take away the biggest lesson they have learned from the sport and their coach as well: With hard work, you get what you put in.

Bringing back the season means bringing back that sense of normalcy the team and everyone has been missing. Encountering the chaos they faced, the women commented on their experiences as student athletes last season and looked ahead to future seasons.

O’Boyle said, “Before everyone would just hear it but now that we have all gone through it you have to play every game and practice like it’s your last. Just like last year no one knew that was going to be our last game of the season.”

Palermo said, “Take it in, everything.

“Once that time runs out, it runs out.”