Fans of the Yale field hockey, women’s hockey and women’s lacrosse teams may have done double takes this spring after noticing three players on the lacrosse field who had competed for different Eli teams earlier in the year.
Under new Yale women’s lacrosse head coach Erica LaGrow, who has shown herself to be open to two-sport athletes on her roster, three Bulldogs who played lacrosse in high school — Katie Smith ’18, Lily Smith ’18 and Gretchen Tarrant ’17 — have joined the team in addition to commitments to their original Yale varsity teams. The Smith twins, who started as midfielders for the Yale field hockey team this season, are now also midfielders for the women’s lacrosse team. Tarrant, who has played three seasons as a Yale women’s hockey forward, has joined LaGrow’s squad as a defender.
After starting all 17 games and recording a goal in field hockey last fall, Lily Smith emerged as an instant contributor in lacrosse during her first season. The sophomore is currently the Bulldogs’ third-leading goal-scorer with 10 goals, in addition to three assists. Her sister, Katie Smith, also started every game for the field hockey team and has tacked on a pair of goals on the lacrosse field this spring.
The News spoke with Lily Smith to talk about the experience she and her twin sister have had being Yale’s newest two-sport athletes.
Q: Were you two recruited for lacrosse as well as field hockey? How did you decide to just play field hockey originally?
A: We were originally recruited to play field hockey at Yale by [head] coach [Pam] Stuper. We chose to play field hockey originally because we love the sport, and Yale offered opportunities incomparable to any other school. Wherever we ended up, though, we had hoped that we might be able to play both sports.
Q: How did the process of joining the women’s lacrosse team go this year?
A: We actually approached coach LaGrow about joining the lacrosse team. We contacted her at the beginning of the semester, fall 2015, and set up a time to meet with her and talk about it. She said she would be open to us joining the team, but in the meantime wanted us to focus on field hockey while we were in season — and I believe she said something similar to [Tarrant]. Neither of us had played since spring of our senior year in high school, so we had a lot of catching up to do as well.
Q: Did you both come to the decision to join the team separately, or together?
A: Joining lacrosse was something that we both wanted to do, so we contacted coach LaGrow together, met with her and the other coaches, discussed logistics and picked up where we left off senior year, side by side.
Q: How has school changed since you picked up playing both sports?
A: School has not changed much since we picked up playing both sports. Between being in season [in lacrosse] and off season for field hockey, the time commitment to playing lacrosse instead of participating in field hockey spring training is a bit larger. But it doesn’t feel that way — being in competition year round is so much fun and the seasons fly by! Like playing field hockey in the fall, it’s a balancing act between athletics and academics in the spring now too. You just have to make sure you set enough time aside for both, as well as make time for other activities, while finding random times to eat or sleep some in between.
Q: What has field hockey head coach Pam Stuper thought of the move?
A: I think at first she was a little skeptical or confused why we would want to join another team, but she let us anyway, because she knew it was something that we really wanted to do. Coach Stuper, and the rest of the field hockey team and staff, have all become really supportive of our decision to play lacrosse. They all came out to Reese [Stadium] to see us play, made posters and were screaming in the stands. It really meant a lot.