In the net at every girls lacrosse game, an unsung hero barks orders and takes hits for the team; it’s junior Baylin Vreeland. Sporting jersey number 24 and a blue and pink goalie stick, Vreeland has played goalie since she was a freshman and has become a serious asset to the team.
Vreeland started playing lacrosse in seventh grade, as an attack. But before she discovered her love of the game she had tried almost every sport available. “I played all sports except for softball and volleyball,” she said. Most significant was 11 years of swimming. However, she liked lacrosse for its combination of hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. “It’s a full body thing rather than, how in soccer you don’t use your hands,” she said.
Not until Tam’s goalie position opened up due to injuries did Vreeland step in to play goalie. One incentive was that she was able to play the entire game. “I ended up liking it a lot more than playing field,” she said.
Although she is not a captain, Vreeland accepts a lot of responsibility on the field. Her job requires effective communication and teamwork, as she directs teammates against the opposing players. “Being the goalie is its own name for being a leader,” says Vreeland, “Although I don’t think of myself as higher than [my teammates and captains], I’m still a leader [and] my teammates still recognize me as a leader on the team because a goalie has to direct the entire defense… When leading the team, the title doesn’t really matter.”
Her position gives her the responsibility, power, and natural leadership to lead the team to improvement.
“Baylin’s attitude this season often kept our team’s heads held high,” said head coach Natalie Butler, “She was able to walk off the field after every game and say, ‘I think we learned something from that, can we do this or this at practice tomorrow.’”
With only five returning players on the team, this season for Vreeland and the other veterans has been about teaching the first-year players about the game. Much of this year was about learning the fundamentals of the game. “We developed as a team throughout the season and based on our progression throughout the season I believe that were going to be great next year,” said Vreeland.
She has grown to love the sport and plans to play in college. In fact, she continues to play in the Tam off season, playing for the BearLAX club as well as the Nor Cal Pacific Coast team. Vreeland also happens to play on boys teams when she can, taking the field for the boys league “Vitality.”
She also wanted to play for the boy’s varsity team with coach Jon Porter but unfortunately, MCAL rules do not allow her to do so.
At the beginning of the season Vreeland began to doubt that there would even be a girl’s lacrosse team due to such a small number of returning players. Under these circumstances, Vreeland thought that she might play for the boy’s team. “I didn’t want to transfer schools even though that was an option,” she added.
“[Lacrosse is] a big part of my life,” she says, “It drives my life a bit… It’s inspired me to ref youth lacrosse which helps me be able to teach younger children and spread the love of the game.” Lacrosse has also taught Vreeland many lessons that she has been able to apply to the rest of her life. “We need to be optimistic especially in times when others are being pessimistic,” she says, “[Playing lacrosse] helps you to realize that you do have a chance with every game and every assignment.”
Written by Chris Yip. This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue.