Senior Annie Hargraves discusses her high school lacrosse career.

BY JOURNALISM II STUDENT BROOKE MASON, ’22. GRAPHIC BY LUCY O’BRIEN, ’22.

School sports can be extremely influential on athletes’ high school experiences and futures. For senior Annie Hargraves, lacrosse has had a considerable impact on her life.

In action: Hargraves prepares to seize the puck midgame.

Hargraves began playing lacrosse at the beginning of her seventh grade year at Hastings. She continued to play throughout high school and now is committed to The Ohio State University for the sport.

Hargraves’ exceptional talent for lacrosse was easily recognizable as she was one of two freshmen who made varsity her freshman year. After Hargraves’ first high school lacrosse season, the Upper Arlington girls lacrosse program recognized her as co-rookie of the year.

Hargraves continued to improve, and she was selected for The Ohio High School Lacrosse Association’s second team all region during her sophomore year. The girls varsity lacrosse team also won the state championship when Hargraves was a sophomore.

However, Hargraves’ exciting high school lacrosse career was shortened when the 2020 season was canceled due to the coronavirus.

The 2021 season started off strong with Hargraves being selected to be one of the two senior captains for the varsity team. She also was featured in The USA Lacrosse Magazines list of top 25 players to watch in the country.

Hargraves’ final season came to an abrupt end when she was severely injured during practice the night before the team’s fourth game.

“I was dodging around my defender and when I stepped with my left foot, my knee kind of buckled back and I heard a pop,” Hargraves said. “I fell to the ground and wasn’t able to continue playing or walk after [the fall].”

After visiting the doctor, Hargraves’ MRI revealed she had torn her ACL and meniscus in her left knee. This meant Hargraves would not be able to play her senior season.

“It’s been a very emotional few weeks, being able to accept that I won’t be playing anymore and having to realize that,” Hargraves said. “I’m still struggling with game days and just standing there watching.”

The recovery time for Hargraves’ injuries is six to nine months following surgery.

“My surgery is scheduled for May 4 and the doctors want to get me into rehab the Friday following my surgery,” Hargraves said. “From there, I’ll just continue doing rehab and hoping to be back by the end of fall.”

Although playing sports can be stressful and can result in injuries, often athletes find comfort at practices and with the sport’s community

“Lacrosse is the one part of my day where I feel like I can be myself and no one’s really judging me,” Hargraves said. “I feel ok to make mistakes there and that I won’t be judged by other people, so it’s the one place where I feel completely safe.”

Balancing school, sports, other extracurriculars and free time can be extremely difficult. However, athletes can learn important life skills from their experiences on various teams.

“[Lacrosse has] helped me grow as a person. I’ve learned so many new things like learning how to work with people and learning that it’s ok to mess up,” Hargraves said.

High school sports can also help shape athletes’ futures and college plans.

“Lacrosse has really impacted my life. It’s given me a lot of opportunities like going to my dream school. It’s [my dream has] always been going to Ohio State and playing a sport there is even better,” Hargraves said.

Hargraves’ injuries do not affect her commitment to The Ohio State University. However, they will affect her training for the 2022 season.

“I will most likely miss Fallball but it’s just basically scrimmaging other teams—teams we’d play in the regular season—just scrimmaging them pre-season and just practicing,” Hargraves said. “I’m going to most likely miss all of that but I’m hoping I won’t miss any of the regular season. I’m hoping I’ll be able to play by then.”

Despite the setbacks, Hargraves has remained positive.

“I have such a big support system from UA lacrosse, my family and Ohio State so I know I’m going to come back even stronger and even better on the lacrosse field,” she said. “Some advice for other athletes is to stay positive. I know it sounds cliche but you have a huge support system around you that you don’t even realize.”