Sports Staff Writer
Coming up as a young, clueless goalie trying to find a place in the lacrosse community, UNC Asheville sophomore Olivia Marks traveled up and down the East Coast subbing-in for complete strangers.
“I would get calls from random teams since I live in the Triangle. There’s a lot of tournaments that happen at Duke,” Marks said. “If they are ever missing a goalie they are like ‘oh, who can we call’ and I’m always there.”
Playing for a Virginia team and different local Triangle high school teams whenever needed, being a goalie gives her many opportunities to play with complete strangers.
“It’s not a super big deal that you don’t know the person that is blocking the ball,” Marks said. “I’ve had a lot of cool little instances.”
Coming from a big soccer community in Durham, she wanted to find an alternative sport her friends were not playing. Luckily, the school she attended at the time added a lacrosse team the year she became eligible to participate in sports.
Marks knew she had an advantage in getting the position she wanted because no one wanted to be goalie other than her. Having zero past experience would lead her to some quirky situations in the future, but one instance stood out.
“When I first was learning how to play goalie, well, I’ll preface it by saying that no one told me that you weren’t allowed to score if you were a goalie,” Marks said.
No one stopped her from making a save and continuing the play by running the ball herself. Once she had made the goal for her team without any act of defense from her opponents, she was told the truth about her play.
“They were like, ‘ma’am we’re so sorry, but that doesn’t count.You’re not allowed to do that,”’ Marks said.
The 19-year-old Spanish student will be in her eighth year playing lacrosse and her second year playing with the club team on UNCA’s campus.
Moving to Asheville, Marks searched for opportunities to play the sport she loved. There was not much for female players, but for males there were scarce opportunities to work with youth teams within the Asheville area.
Granted, Marks said there is not much lacrosse being played in Western NC at the moment. Many teams are all male with a few female teams. There is, however, enough interest to hold a tournament called the Blue Ridge Classic held annually in the summer.
With the lacrosse club in its first year when Marks came to campus, it was hard to find time to juggle lacrosse practice with other student organizations and night classes. When she could make it to a practice, it was worthwhile.
“My first semester it was a really nice group of girls who would come out and we would toss around for awhile,” Marks said. “We would do different drills and kind of warm up, but we’d only be out there for an hour.”
The lacrosse club has both male and female players, but they do not necessarily play together all the time. Due to the different forms of contact allowed by female and male teams, it is hard to incorporate the different cultures into one game.
“They’ve tried to incorporate those, more on a need basis than a ‘we want to play together’ because they’re two different sports truly, like contact wise,” Marks said.
Since females have padding and males do not, the UNCA club essentially turns into two clubs that play different forms of lacrosse.
“Not like an ‘anti girls shouldn’t play lacrosse,’ but that’s why we don’t have contact because the guys hit the crap out of each other,” Marks said. “It’s just a different set of rules.”