NORWOOD — While the Boston College women’s lacrosse team is coming off an historic run to a national championship, that doesn’t mean that these Eagles are taking the summer off.
In fact, seven BC teammates that includes former local standouts Annie and Erin Walsh of Franklin, Annabelle Hasselbeck of Weston and Sydney Scales of Walpole have been playing together this summer in the Compete Women’s Indoor Lacrosse League at Compete Indoor Sports in Norwood.
“It’s just nice to have a stick in your hand in the summer and messing around with the ball,” said Erin Walsh, a rising BC sophomore. “It’s very chill and no pressure.”
This is the seventh summer of the Compete Indoor Lacrosse League, which began in 2013 originally at ForeKicks in Norfolk. Owner and operator of Compete Strength and Conditioning Joe Drain eventually built his own facility in Norwood, which opened in 2016.
There are both a men’s and women’s league with four teams in the men’s league and three teams for the women. The men’s league is invite only, where the women’s league is filtered with the top college lacrosse players in the area. Comprised of mostly Division I college athletes, there are some Div. II, Div. III and graduated high school seniors who play to keep their skills sharp in the offseason.
The league has provided a place for a highly competitive pickup league in a fun, casual environment without the pressures of playing Div. I lacrosse.
“It’s so fun,” said Annie Walsh, a rising junior at BC. “We’ve all been playing together for so long it kind of gives you a glimpse into what it was like in high school. We are kind of just playing because we love the sport. It’s loose, we don’t have plays or anything and our chemistry is so good because we’ve been playing together since we were little.”
For most, players have learned about the Compete Indoor Lacrosse League through word of mouth. “About 75%” of those who play in the league also train and workout at Compete, according to Drain.
“One of the girls on the team who just graduated (Jill Reilly) told me about this place,” said Scales. a rising sophomore. “I joined over winter break to just stay in shape and then told some of the local girls who were looking for some pick-up games to get a stick in their hand and said that they should join.”
“I heard about (the league) through (my teammates),” said Hasselbeck, the daughter of former NFL and BC quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, and a former lax standout at The Rivers School. “It’s cool to learn about new pick-up leagues and to get involved.”
While this specific pickup league wasn’t necessarily recommended to them by their coach, any sort of offseason lacrosse is encouraged according to Annie Walsh.
“It’s nice to get a stick in your hand to be ready when we get back on campus,” she said.
Another benefit of the league is that it allows players to play other positions that they don’t normally play, raising their overall lacrosse IQ.
“You’re forced to play all positions, too,” said Hasselbeck. “I didn’t play defense all that much this season so I get to play defense here, so it’s a great way to get back into it.”
“I usually play defense,” Scales said. “So getting some offensive reps (here) gets your confidence up as well, so that’s something that you just need to do and get a stick in your hand and play as much as possible.”
While most of the players do hail from Div. I programs, there are some Div. III athletes who participate in the league as well, such as former Wayland standout and Wesleyan lacrosse player Kate Balicki.
“I’ve worked out here for a few years now since high school, so I’ve always played in this league (4 years),” Balicki said. “I think, as the years have gone on, the league has gotten better and the competition has gotten so great.”
This summer is crucial for Balicki, as her freshman season for the Cardinals was cut short due to COVID-19. Balicki also did not play this past season since she decided not to return to campus in 2021, opting to take classes remotely.
“Playing in this is a great outlet because I haven’t been able to play much,” Balicki said. “It’s great competition and all the girls here I’ve either played against in high school or played with at some point so it is nice to kind of reunite with past high school teammates and people I’ve played against in the past as well.”
Two of Balicki’s high school teammates from Wayland also play in the league in Carly Camphausen and Jackie Stoller, although both of them play on a different team than Balicki.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and shut most everything down, Balicki was able to come to compete to train.
“The weird thing was, was that I hadn’t been able to play in a game in a while,” Balicki said. “But quite honestly, I was ahead of where a lot of my teammates in the sense that when COVID hit, a lot of them didn’t have anything and I was able to come here and workout and play occasionally.
“It’s just fun and competitive and I look forward to it every week,” Balicki said.
Ethan Winter is a senior multimedia sports journalist at the Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EWints.