A Leader on the Lacrosse Field

May 24, 2023

Sadie M. ’24 during a recent Girls Lacrosse game.

Sadie M. ’24 has reached–or, really, it’s more apt to say achieved–a point in her Wheeler lacrosse career where she is setting a new standard for the program with every game. Earlier this season she became only the fourth Warrior to score 200 goals in Girls Lacrosse, and just a few games after that, she broke the team’s career scoring record of 232 goals that was held by Meghan Keenan ’19. These milestones are significant in their own right, but when considering that Sadie is a junior and still has another full season of lacrosse at Wheeler ahead of her, the accomplishments become even more impressive.

“I have always worked for my team, and I was always focused on being the best me for my team I could be,” Sadie says. “I didn’t even know how close I was to 200 goals this year, but when Mr. Kelly [Athletics Director Sean Kelly ’02, P’35] told me what the record was, I realized it was within reach. I knew I could do it if I put that much more work in, on top of the work I was already putting in.”

To be fair, the work that Sadie has–and continues–to put in is significant. She’s been playing lacrosse since she was in the 1st grade, and in addition to playing for Wheeler, she’s been part of her club team, Revolution Lacrosse, since the 7th grade. “I’ve put so much time and effort into lacrosse, and it’s always been one of those things that, if it was in the summer, for example, and my friends would invite me to go to the beach, I had to say, ‘Sorry, I’m away at lacrosse.’ I love lacrosse, and I love my team so much, but it was always, you’re in high school, or you’re in middle school, and you have those moments of FOMO [fear of missing out]. But it’s something I’ve always wanted and I’ve always worked for, and now it’s paying off.”

Beyond the goals, as Sadie describes it, those rewards are connected to her understanding of how to do better on the field–both for herself and for her teammates. “I get really frustrated when I can’t help myself or others,” she admits. “In soccer [another of the sports she plays], the ball is at your feet and you don’t always have control of the ball, necessarily. There are so many uncontrollables–obviously I can work on my fitness and my foot skills–but it still has that bit of uncertainty. But in lacrosse, I know I can win the draw. I need to put this in, I can do these skills that will make me a better draw taker. I can win the draw, and that’s what I can do for my team. I can step back and keep my eyes up and make the assist for my team. That’s what I can do, and that’s just something that I find really special with lacrosse.”

As much time, effort, and care that Sadie has dedicated to lacrosse, it is not the only one she plays competitively. She is a three-sport student-athlete at Wheeler, playing on the Girls Soccer team in the fall and the Girls Basketball team in the winter. “The coaches, the teams, the environment, the seasons, it’s just so much fun,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to have my successes in lacrosse without my experiences in soccer and basketball because so much transfers over. There are a lot of similarities in the defense and the offense, but there are always a few fouls during basketball season, when Coach Coro will call out, “Sadie, Sadie, it’s not lacrosse!”

A few basketball fouls aside, Athletics Director Kelly praises Sadie, describing her athleticism and competitiveness as truly special. “Most impressively, in a time of sports specialization, she is a throwback with her willingness not only to play other sports but to perform at such a high level regardless of the sport or the season,” he says. “And while she’s so successful and skilled, what makes her really stand out is her consistency, her leadership, and the example she is setting for all of our younger athletes in the Wheeler community.”

Sadie, in turn, remembers being inspired as a 9th-grader on the basketball team, when she saw Kate Keenan ’21 become that program’s all-time leading scorer. “I thought that was so cool,” Sadie reflects. “Basketball, I know that’s not really my thing, and I was never on track for that because I’m more of a defensive player, but it was always in the back of my mind for lacrosse. It’s a surreal experience now to have reached it, and I’m just so excited.”

She is also grateful to the many people, both at home and at school, who she says have contributed to her success, starting with her parents. “They’ve put so much of their time into lacrosse with me, like taking me down to Maryland to compete in tournaments,” Sadie says. “I know that wasn’t ideal for them driving those seven hours through New York and Connecticut traffic, but they made the trip, and it was really nice to have them by my side. On my club team, in the fall we have a few tournaments where we have to leave school a little bit early, and my teachers have always been supportive of that. My advisor, Mr. [Bob] Schmidt [P’14, P’16] has been great helping me out with everything. I owe so much to Mr. Kelly, too. He’s been so supportive of me in every season, and especially in the off season, if I’m looking to get a workout or run in with some of my other teammates, he’ll reach out to them for me. When I was in the process of deciding where to go to college, Mr. Kelly helped talk me through all of my decisions. It was just really great to have him there, because he’s been in the same position being someone from Wheeler who went on to play in college.”

Sadie already knows where she is headed for college: she will continue her lacrosse career and her education at Lafayette. “September 1st is the date when Division I schools can reach out, and I got a text from Lafayette that morning,” she says. “I knew I wanted to set up a visit to see and explore the campus more. As soon as my parents and I drove through campus, we just knew. It felt like home. The coaches welcomed me with open arms, and our tour was great. I met a few of the girls, and they were so kind. It was the culture that I was really looking for, with a team that was like a family, because that is something that is super important to me.”

Those same themes and feelings, of home and family, have always been part of Sadie’s lacrosse experience, both with her club team and at Wheeler. “I have such a special bond with every one of my teammates here,” she says. “All of my coaches, Coach Eric [Delgado P’32], Coach [Stephanie] Coro, Coach [Marya] Baldwin [’95], Coach Gabby [Carlino ’08], Coach Sue [Clegg ’85, P’25], and Mr. Kelly, they’re such a supportive group of people and they’re always there for me. I just think it’s such a special community, and I have such a great bond that I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

As she looks ahead to her senior year at Wheeler, Sadie has an important goal that crosses all of the sports she plays. “I want to help get more community members involved in girls sports at Wheeler,” she says. “Traditionally, we haven’t always made it to the playoffs or won trophies, and while Wheeler has been great, it’s also one of those things where people don’t necessarily think, ‘Oh, there’s a girls game, I totally want to go to that.’ It’s subconscious sometimes, but it’s really important to me to help change that perception.

Sadie and the 2022-23 Wheeler Girls Lacrosse team.

“I also want to help the Girls Lacrosse team make a statement in our new league [NEPSAC],” Sadie adds. “I think about basketball this year, where we won some games we weren’t expected to and we were in close games when we weren’t supposed to be. So I think there is a big future ahead for the soccer, basketball, and lacrosse teams in our league.”

Wheeler Girls Lacrosse Coach Marya Baldwin agrees, and she credits Sadie for helping drive that team success while serving as a meaningful role model for others at school. “Sadie is a great example for all female athletes,” Coach Baldwin says. “Her success in athletics and in the classroom are a direct result of her commitment that she puts in daily. Sadie is a leader on the field through her work ethic. Becoming the all-time leading scorer for Girls Lacrosse as a junior is an incredible feat. Her coaches are looking forward to next season and continuing to watch her create history!”

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