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Rice poised for a big year

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Most freshmen are just happy to find their classrooms during their first year on campus. They aren’t too worried about playing time as they get used to college life.

Those freshmen who did get to see the field early, however, use it as a tool to get better. They get to see what it’s like to play against the best of the best in college. While some may not make an impact right away, it does allow them to get a feel for the game, the speed of the game, and what they need to work on in future seasons to get better.

For American International lacrosse player Anevay Rice being able tot play a lot during her freshman season was a springboard for the rest of her college career.

“I would say playing a lot early on helped me to get acclimated to how fast college ball is compared to high school and even travel. I learned really quickly in the first five minutes of my first game when I got taken out by this girl, that college lacrosse is bigger and faster than high school,” stated Rice. “In high school and travel I have played good teams, but college is a whole different game especially with being in the NE10. It is a great conference and all the girls who play in it are very talented, definitely a faster and more aggressive pace compared to high school."

Her first couple of years, Rice made an immediate impact. Scoring 27 goals, and adding 10 assists, over the first two years, Rice was ready for a breakout season during her junior campaign.

But, it was not to be.

Rice entered her junior year with a big unknown. The team was operating without a coach during fall ball - and the team didn’t know what was going on come spring. They knew they would have a new person in charge, but learning a new system on the fly would be a tough transition in the beginning.

“I think it was my own confidence that had gotten me off the rail a little bit. We as a team just lost our head coach and it took some time to get a new one. We went through an entire fall ball season without a coach and had a lot of success in the tournament we played in, but once the fall ended we all were a bit worried for the spring,” stated Rice. “It was a big change for myself and my team, with not knowing what was going to happen during season I feel it had made me a little hesitant. This off season I was playing in ULax, and doing my own gym training sessions along with field work with friends who play too from home. After this summer of playing, coaching and going to workouts made me prepped and excited for the fall ball season and now I’m looking forward to the spring.”

This spring season will be the final for Rice. It has been a different college experience then what most are going through now. She was part of the Covid class that was dealing with school mostly online, and the world was trying to figure out what was going on.

She is looking forward to a big season as her lacrosse journey will come to and end. Like most players, Rice has goals that she would like to achieve as she gets ready to say goodbye.

“I want to graduate with my bachelors of science in accounting along with minors in finance and general business. That’s my main goal, I also want to be able to secure an internship to further my professional side of myself,” stated Rice. “For season, I want to be able to finish my last year of lacrosse with success in the team’s and my own stats, and to just leave my last game knowing that all my hard work in playing over the years finally paid-off.”

It’s tough to look ahead to see what your final year will look like. All the memories of putting on the goggles for the first time, and learning how to shoot, are all starting to come back.

The game of lacrosse has brought Rice a lot of memories. It allowed her to make life-long friends. It allowed her to become the young women she is today.

“I could not thank my dad and my sister more for getting me into lacrosse. My older sister, Brianna, had played at Clarence as well. I remember going and watching her and her practice with me in the backyard for years and my dad conducting his own practices with us two as well. My entire family has always supported me whenever I play and they are all apart of the reason as to why I am still playing,” stated Rice. “This game has a taught me a lot; from game play all the way to all the relationships I have made from it. It has helped to build me into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. I know when my senior day comes I’ll be bursting in tears, but I’ll be happy that I was given the opportunity to play college lacrosse.”

Her college experience just wasn’t about lacrosse. While in school, Rice got involved with Morgan’s Message. She wanted to bring awareness to people that college athletes go through mental struggles like everyone else.

Because they play sports, doesn’t mean athletes are robots. They still go through the daily struggles like everyone else.

“I wanted to help raise more awareness at my school for student-athletes, there have been too many people that I know that are heavily effected mentally by the sports they play. I got involved through one of my old teammates that I have been playing with since high school, Lauren Smithers,” states Rice. “Lauren was in the PT program at AIC and had graduated, but when she was here she and a women’s basketball player, Kayla Robinson, had started the Morgan’s Message chapter at AIC. I had joined the club last year, but since Lauren is somewhere else for graduate school, I decided to step in and fill Lauren’s role, and help Kayla continue Morgans Message at AIC.”

For the good, mental health is being talked about more and more in society. Before Covid, mental health wasn’t really being brought up. Everyone kind of just went about their days, and no one raised an eyebrow.

Then professional athletes started talking abbot their mental health at press conference. In the beginning, many didn’t know how to handle it when an athlete would say they were battling mental health issues.

Now, the conversations are advanced enough, that if someone brings up they need a break for whatever reasons they get the break they deserve.

“Mental health is thankfully being talked about more and more today in our world. I feel that I do at times find myself in slump, but I try to surround myself around good people and good times to keep out of that slump,” stated Rice. “I have found that over the years I need to create a specific schedule for my day to day and allot time to focusing on myself for a little bit. To do this at school, I go on walks a lot. My friend has a dog that I have always been around since my freshmen year, so each nice day out I try to get out and do anywhere from one to three miles of a walk to just clear my head and have a good time.”

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