“Behind the Bulldog” is a new podcast during which host Teddy Gerkin (CAS ’26) interviews athletes about their lives both in and out of the game. In this first episode, Gerkin interviews lacrosse player Lucy Nace (CAS, MSB ’26) as she discusses her journey playing lacrosse, from starting in elementary school to walking onto the Georgetown women’s lacrosse team as a first-year. Nace also discusses overcoming challenges, shares memories and offers advice about being a team player.
Teddy Gerkin (TG): Hello and welcome to episode one of Behind the Bulldog, where Georgetown student-athletes offer you insight into their college experience beyond the game. I’m your host, Teddy Gerkin, and I’m joined by sophomore women’s lacrosse player Lucy Nace, how are you doing today?
Lucy Nace (LN): I’m good. How are you? Thank you for having me. I’m super excited to talk about my experience.
TG: Of course. I’m excited to have you here. So, Lucy, I wanted to start with your life before Georgetown. Right. So you talked about you know, your high school and club lacrosse experiences, how you got into the sport, anything like that?
LN: Yeah, perfect. So I basically I got into lacrosse when I was in second grade, that’s when I first started playing because my brother who’s a year younger than I am and kind of local rec leagues, my dad started coaching him and I kind of came to their practices. I tried to throw a ball against the fence, see if it bounced back to me. So I was in about first grade. But then finally, once it came second grade, I was able to start getting into it with the formal rec league. So that’s kind of where I got my start. But I didn’t start playing club lacrosse till fourth grade. Through Victory. It was kind of smaller, eh, not smaller. It was good, a good experience, but eventually kind of I switched to my more formal and my current team. Then in sixth grade I switched to Belles Lacrosse Club, which is a team based in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. I’m from Delaware, and I’d say there aren’t too many opportunities for club lacrosse in Delaware. It’s not exactly a hotbed as some would say. But I did get to play with a lot of southeastern PA girls who I really love, of course. And it was always, it was fun to just meet people outside of my state and play with girls that were super talented, super fun. And while they got to play with each other kind of in high school, I also kind of had an outlet with new girls and also, of course, had my own outlet in high school to play for my high school team. So in eighth grade, actually that’s when I started playing for my high school varsity team, I made, I kind of had a tryout for that. And I made the varsity team in eighth grade. And I was definitely a midfielder. But I was kind of super thin and super lanky and tall for my age. And I’d say my defensive skills weren’t terribly developed. So I started off as an attacker that year for eighth grade. And I got a few goals I had like 18, maybe 20 goals that year. So definitely a good kind of starting point. But then once I hit my ninth grade year of high school, that’s when I formally started stepping into my position as a midfielder and a draw taker. And from there, I just stuck with that throughout the rest of high school and had a good experience kind of playing with the girls I went high school with.
TG: That’s awesome. So I think it’s a good segue. Let’s talk about your high school experience. Right? So I think you mentioned you tried out in eighth grade and played varsity. So could you just I’m gonna imagine you were the youngest player on the team, right?
LN: Yeah. So there was one other girl, and the coach hadn’t, like, brought up girls in, I don’t know, over 10 years, but she chose another girl who plays for Haverford now she chose both of us to play up in eighth grade. So the tryout, it wasn’t a formal tryout, I’d say I attended practices. And she just kind of saw how I fit with the team. And I’d say I didn’t exactly, I wasn’t truly a starting player until I’d say about halfway, that’s when I started making my mark on the team and started making an impact and putting goals, but it was definitely a great learning experience, to kind of have to work for my position instead of just being given it. So yeah, obviously, also, super strange playing with girls that I wouldn’t even see throughout the day, they had this whole high school culture, and they had everything we had in high school, and I was still in middle school. So that was super interesting, and always fun to hear about what they were up to. But yeah, that was a really good place for me to get to get my start.
TG: Would you say that affected the team dynamic or team culture at all? I mean, you’re playing with kids that are five years older than you. Did it affect any of your relationships? And did that show on the field or in practice?
LN: Yeah, I guess I haven’t really reflected on this in a while. Because it’s been years since I did that, but it definitely challenged me, it was difficult to fit in, because I guess some of these girls are 18. And I was what, 14 at that time. So I’d say it was difficult to kind of fit in a little bit because I kind of felt it was hard for me to kind of show my personality, and who I was, especially being a younger girl. And it’s kind of it’s interesting to kind of find your footing on the team. And you don’t want to kind of step on anyone’s toes. But I say as time went on you kind of as people see your skill and they see who you are, you kind of gain mutual respect for each other. So definitely was definitely I remember just in the beginning of the year or this season, it was always like, stressful during warmups, because what am I supposed to talk about? I don’t, I mean I go to school with these girls, but I don’t actually spend any time during the day with them. It was good to kind of get to know them. And um, and especially since I’ve just been playing with them, most of them regardless next year. It’s good to know them.
TG: Yeah, so let’s um, let’s get a little further in your high school career. Right. So you captained your high school team for two years. Could you talk about you know how you earned that title? What type of responsibilities came with that role?
LN: Yeah, for sure. My junior year I became captain and I’d say I kind of not only because I had the skill to do so, but also I think I was pretty good at uplifting younger players, especially knowing how it feels to be a younger player split from kind of from my experience in eighth grade. But also through my other sports. I played field hockey and basketball for all four years of high school. And for those positions while, like I said, I got, I ended up earning a starting position in eighth grade, those I kind of had to work for a starting position kind of later on in my high school careers. So I kind of know what it took to be a younger kid on the team having to work for and earning spot, and also just not being as skilled at like basketball. I was definitely never a shooter. But I definitely, I was able to become the captain for two years for that team too simply because of my defensive skill, and just kind of I was kind of known as the captain with the good, uplifting morale. So I think it was kind of given the position not only because of my skill in lacrosse, but I was pretty good with younger girls, and just getting motivation to everyone who needed it.
TG: Awesome. So um, you know, I’m not totally familiar with the college recruiting process when it comes to lacrosse. And obviously, well I guess not obviously to our viewers, but you ended up walking onto the team. So could you discuss maybe how that went for you? Maybe why you ultimately decided to choose Georgetown, just as a student rather than maybe accepting offers for athletics.
LN: Yeah, for sure. So I kind of, I was always kind of on the fence as to whether I wanted to play lacrosse in college. Of course, in my freshman year of high school, you got to start early, you got to start looking at the colleges start reaching out to the coaches, jumping through all the hoops of the recruiting process, going to the prospect camps, attending clinics, all that stuff. So I did do all of the kind of standard stuff it takes for the recruiting process. But it wasn’t until kind of my junior, I wouldn’t say I, I’ve always been a pretty indecisive person, so I never really, I knew schools that I liked and schools I didn’t like, but I never really narrowed it down to those that I would go kind of gung ho for and just email all the time consistently. So I wouldn’t say I was as, I didn’t push it as probably as hard as I could have to maybe get more attention. Because I honestly just wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, especially being a 15-year-old. It’s kind of hard to figure that out. But I of course wanted to see like what looks like I could get, what contact I could get from coaches. So honestly, by the time junior year rolled around and coaches started, D1 coaches started, a lot started reaching out. I got some attention from coaches, some from other D3s, and but nothing really stood out to me. And it wasn’t really any kind of risk I was willing to take enough to commit in my junior year of high school. So ultimately, I just decided I didn’t want a coach’s interest or disinterest in me to determine whether or not I was able to go to school or not, I just kind of wanted to see where my academic and extracurricular strength could take me, and from there, if that works out, then we’ll see if lacrosse can fall in place. But basically, I ended up my senior high school, as you know, applying to all the schools and went through all of the heartbreaking results and all of that, but eventually kind of came down to I was sort of deciding between USC out in California and Georgetown. But in the end, I kind of knew Georgetown was the place for me not only location-wise, wasn’t, I didn’t need, necessarily need to be close to home, but I didn’t mind being in close proximity. I think that’s pretty accessible in comparison to California. But also I really like Georgetown’s campus for its kind of condensed, I really like the idea of kind of a community within a larger city, the campuses, and also like the size of the student body, USC just seemed super overwhelming. So that’s what eventually made me pick Georgetown. And from there, I basically graduated my senior year, finished up my high school lacrosse season. And from there, I just kind of knew I needed to play lacrosse in college. Because just kind of wrapping up that senior season it kind of just sent. I don’t know something that kind of how sentimental about was I just felt that this wasn’t something I could just let go of going into college.
TG: Yeah. So as that senior season wrapped up, I mean, you were you were listed as a US Lacrosse All-American. I mean, that must have been kind of the crowning achievement, right? Do you would you say that maybe pushed you, motivated you towards playing in college as well?
LN: I wouldn’t say it that was just the the one and only motivator. But it definitely kind of reinforced the understanding that I had the skills to do it, especially I mean, only six girls in Delaware, it’s a small state, and only six girls in Delaware receive it every year. And I was the only one of the six who wasn’t a committed player. So it kind of just reinforced the idea that I had the skills that they could take. So it definitely felt really great to receive that recognition. But I just knew that having had lacrosse in my life since I was eight years old, this wasn’t something I could let go of. And I was willing to just kind of do what it takes to try to make this team.
TG: Yeah. Alright, let’s um, let’s fast forward a little bit. Let’s talk about your freshman year of college. Right? So it’s a big change for everyone. But maybe especially for someone like you who was like this big star athlete in high school. And now you’re just a regular student, right? Coming into school. So could you talk about you know, maybe that change how you received that?
LN: Yeah, it was definitely it was kind of weird going into school without the like the kind of athlete piece of my identity kind of not intact. Because I’d always been just the athletic girl or whatever, the sporty girl, and coming into college if you don’t play a sport, then you’re not really an athlete. I mean, you don’t play a sport anymore. So that was kind of weird with that kind of piece of my identity missing. But I also came with the mentality just so determined to make this team I mean, the whole summer I spent, I mean I graduated I just knew that this whole summer needs to be dedicated to getting in shape, sharpening my skills to try out for this team. So while I kind of, I didn’t put too much reliance, I didn’t put too much reliance on lacrosse because I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work out. But I definitely tried to just stay focused on the end goal, which is making this team, and just be okay at the moment with not being the designated athlete I once was.
TG: Yeah. So in that tryout process, and of course leading up to it, you know, it took a lot of preparation, very time-consuming. Would you say that it had some effect on your social life and your academic performance at the beginning of your freshman year?
LN: Oh, yeah, I’d say so. I mean, the tryout was only I guess I arrived, I had orientation. And then the tryout was only like a week after orientation. So it wasn’t too much time of my college experience spent leading up to it. I definitely remember during orientation, stressing over how I can fit in my sprints, or my stick work between all the strict orientation schedules. So that was a little overwhelming. And I also didn’t want to overdo it socially on the weekends and exhaust myself, knowing that this tryout was coming up, because it could happen literally any day and I was basically notified. I’d say, I think either one or two days’ notice that my coach emailed me, my current coach, and he said, Alright, come to practice on this Thursday or this Friday. And I don’t know, it was very short notice. And I just knew I was glad I had kind of kept it together socially. I mean, I, of course, put in the effort to meet people met great people in my dorm, including yourself. But for sure, I definitely had that main goal in mind. That was kind of my priority.
TG: Yeah. And then you talked about the moment you made the team, right? Because you know, you’ve worked super hard all summer, the beginning of the school year, and then boom, it all pays off, right? I mean, what do you feel at that moment?
LN: Well, it was surreal, because it was supposed to be a three-day tryout. So I had Friday, and then it would have been Saturday, and Sunday with just weekends as off days. And then I technically would have finished the tryout Monday, Tuesday. And practice is only an hour long, because they were technically eight-hour weeks, which is when you only have one hour of practice, and then three days of one-hour lifts, which totals to eight hours. But anyway, after the one hour, I really only played honestly after warming up in play for about 50-45 minutes. I played on that Friday. And then the coaches pulled the captains aside, spoke to them, pulled me aside, and all the other girls had gone inside to change after practice. And I remember the moment they told me, I literally audibly said “for real?” to them. I had just had not expected that I expected to be going to bed early tonight, getting ready for my tryout on Monday. But it was absolutely unreal. Because just from that point on my entire college experience changed.
TG: Yeah, that’s awesome. So um, you know, I’m curious about the team dynamic, right? When you joined the team as a walk-on. Did you ever feel like a misfit or maybe an odd one out as a non-recruited player? You know, how did your teammates welcome you? You know, can you talk about that?
LN: Yeah, I’d say definitely, no one had ever outwardly excluded me, I mean, the group of girls I’m with right now, are just phenomenal, amazing people, no one outwardly tried to exclude me or make me feel like an outcast. But I definitely say I talk to my, now some of my best friends who are the girls in my grade, I know that they hadn’t meshed initially, but I could sense maybe a little hesitant, some more than others, to welcome me because this group of girls had been set in stone for the past two years since they were seniors in high school, they had come in with the understanding that this would be the nine of them. That was it. And then this random girl shows up on the second day of practice, plays with them for 45 minutes, and is immediately part of that group. So I can understand how I put myself in their shoes. And I can understand how that can be kind of jarring to just think this is gonna be my group for the next four years. And now here’s this random girl, especially since I’m super awkward at first. And it was really hard for me to kind of communicate who I was as a person to them. And I felt that was difficult, especially since I didn’t live with any of them. And I didn’t only have a really time in practice when we were playing lacrosse to show my personality. And it was always awkward at first to say be like, “Oh, you guys getting dinner,” It’s just kind of it’s weird to just get to know people that you’re now supposed to be friends with. But of course, after just spending time together, we just get, now we just get together, we get along so well together. And I’m so grateful for the people that I’ve met along the way and just the friends I have now because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’m definitely super pleased with the outcome.
TG: Yeah, that’s fantastic. So, you know, unfortunately, you ended up suffering an injury, right? And that must have really sucked, you know, especially considering all the work you had put in to reach that point. Could you talk about like what happened? What was injured? What were you feeling?
LN: Yeah, so it was actually it was a Friday, Friday of Parents Weekend, my parents were coming into town that day. It was the last draw of practice I had. I remember I lost I was trying to out a new drawhead. I lost the two draws prior because I was still adjusting to it. And finally my third draw. I remember I put the ball exactly where I wanted to and I was so excited. I remember racing through my mind like okay, I’m gonna jump up, grab it. It’s gonna be great. But the two girls off the circle also jumped for it. So all three of us collided in the air. And the way that I landed snapped my fibula, my right fibula, and tore ligaments with it. And I mean, people asked me “did it hurt?” I mean, once I realized what’s happened, like the injury’s over, like, it’s crazy. In a matter of seconds, one day I’m super capable and one second I’m super capable and the next I’m literally paralyzed lying on the ground like, and everyone on the team heard it, like it snapped so loudly and in my head. I was just like: hopefully this is only like a two-week injury. Hopefully, we get over it. But kind of, in the back of my mind, I knew that snap was not a good sign. So of course, the trainer took me in that golf cart right up to Georgetown Hospital, super accessible right up the hill. They got me an X-ray. And that day, I learned I had a fracture, which I didn’t even realize fracture was the same thing as a break, so I was like, oh, okay, we’re chillin’. And then she said, “No, you’re gonna be out for many months.” So that was brutal, but at least my parents were on the way in for Parents Weekend. So they were able to take me out to dinner and all that.
TG: That’s nice. Yeah. So what was what was your rehab? Like, right? I’m sure. With the athletics department, they did a really great job helping you get back to your form as best you could you talk about you know, what you did during rehab?
LN: Yeah, for sure. So I mean, I, when I first broke it that Friday, and I received surgery to repair the bone ligaments exactly the week after, so of course, my parents came back. Then, I went into surgery, went under, woke up. I was feeling great that night, because of course, my ankle was still numb, but I swear, once those numbing pills, whatever it was, wore off, it was agony that entire weekend. I stayed in my parents’ hotel the entire weekend just on so many medications. And eventually, I remember my mom dropped me off that Sunday. And I was just in shambles because I couldn’t walk, I was on a scooter now crutches, crutches are terrible. Oh my gosh, they’re so inaccessible. Especially this campus. It’s built into a hill. But I basically skipped class the first three days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I couldn’t get out of bed. I was just, it was difficult mentally, not only because I couldn’t play lacrosse, but also because I couldn’t get around at all really, I couldn’t access things as easily as I used to. And I took walking for granted so easily. But also I hadn’t been this sedentary at any point in my life prior to this injury. And now I just feel my muscles shrinking. I just feel inactive. I don’t get the endorphins I usually do. So that took a toll on me. But of course for recovery, I stuck to a lot of the things that I could do. I mean, I swear the second I broke it I just decided like we got to do what we can in this moment to get better. And from every day forward, just do what I’m allowed to do. So I did wallball and wrist stuff to kind of keep up with that. And then of course I was allowed to do upper body lifts and then kind of once I was got out of my boot, my splint I started doing ankle strengthening exercises. It was crazy. The day I got my splint removed. My calf was just gone it’d been two weeks of not using it and it was just shriveled up, deceased. It’s crazy how fast it disappeared. But from there I just overdid it on the bike. So many bikings trying to get my cardiovascular health up started on the anti-gravity treadmill to kind of get me back into running shape. And then I remember the first day I started running, it was about three months after, we were at Rutgers I was allowed to run laps around the field, completely gassed, so devastating. I was so upset it was running like a nine-minute 30-second mile which just had been incomprehensible for me prior to my injury. Yeah, but it was just a long road back from when I started about what kind of running in March. I just use the rest of the season to kind of get reacquainted with movement and just kind of moving and cutting and all that. And then once summer hit, this past summer, locked in all the sprints, all the agility, footwork, plyometrics, shooting, all of that. But I’d say I definitely appreciated having the time and practice at the end of the spring to kind of get back into what it was and kind of remind me of what lacrosse is. Cause it had been so long, I had just nothing for the past five months.
TG: Yeah. So that’s a good segue. Let’s talk about summer, right? Obviously, the team’s taking this big trip to Europe. Could you provide some highlights from that experience? You know, what was it like being across the pond with your teammates?
LN: Oh, so much fun. We, so every four years, we are allowed, our seniors get to pick any place. I don’t know if it’s any place in the world, that’s what they say, I think it’s like somewhere in the world for the team to travel to so that by the time everyone graduates you have at least one trip under your belt. And so our seniors picked Ireland and Iceland. So we started in Ireland. And there we saw, so fun, we did hikes. Saw the city, we actually played the Irish national team there, we had to play a little bit of lacrosse, which was really cool to just meet some girls, share their experiences with us. So it was kind of a good, cultural moment. But it was fun. We actually got to go on a beach in Ireland, which is kind of unheard of. But the weather was nice. And then I mentioned was Iceland, which is so, so cool. Unreal. It’s, we did glaciers, waterfalls, blue lagoon, so much fun. And it was also just fun to travel with the team and kind of, well I mean, obviously we traveled before for games, but it was way less pressure lacrosse-wise, just kind of enjoy each other’s company and have fun.
TG: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah, so yeah, so I guess you must feel a lot more established as a new member. Right? And especially as we enter the beginning of a new year right now, lucky you as a sophomore living in a Vil B with your teammates, you know, can you talk about what it’s like to live with your teammates for the first time and just I guess, feeling more maybe embedded in the culture.
LN: I definitely feel way more embedded now. Because like I said, I struggled freshman year, especially with my injury just to kind of show my personality who I was and after going through a full season with them and going on the trip and then coming back. Now I just feel so comfortable around everyone. And also just, I have a better understanding of what’s going on. I remember just the first few months prior to breaking my ankle my freshman year, just a whirlwind, exhausting, practices, heat, so many time constraints, homework, and I just feel like now I have just a better understanding of what’s going on how to maximize my time on the weekends, all of that, it’s just all that makes a lot more sense. Because last fall, it hit all of us as freshmen just like trucks, the schedule we had to maintain. But now I feel after going through in-season, and now we’re back in out-season. I’m way more adjusted, especially living with the girls, it’s way more time if I had to spend all day studying, I can always just come back home and see them, which is an ability I didn’t have last year. So I really like living with them. Especially since we have our buildings next to each other. We all get to see each other whenever we want. Just super fun, especially if I’m busy all day. Can always just come back to them, which is awesome
TG: That’s awesome. All right, guys, it’s time for our wrap-up segment, we’re gonna ask these questions to all of our athletes that come on Lucy, you’re gonna be the first one to hear these questions. So I guess first, would you say just what you’re majoring in, what are your aspirations after school?
LN: I am in so I was I applied to Georgetown as a Spanish major. But I recently this past year, my freshman year, I applied for a new major, which is between the college and the MSB. It’s called international business language and culture. So I still have the same Spanish requirements, but I now have additional business school requirements. And so it’s a good blend of, like I said, business and Spanish. So I think kind of past college, I’ve always, I mean, I’ve always had an interest in speaking a second language. And that’s kind of why I initially was a Spanish major. So I think, ideally, after college, I don’t know exactly what I’d like to do, but probably something in the business realm in which I can use my second language because that would be super cool. But haven’t locked any concrete ideas down yet. But that’s what I’m interested in. I’m really glad I have the opportunity to study it here.
TG: That’s totally fine. All things considered, you know, what would you say is your best memory at Georgetown so far? Obviously, it’s early. But so far.
LN: Probably. I really, when we travel on the bus together, at least when we were freshmen, the girls in my grade, we would make Google Forms. And it’s you’ve probably seen them on TikTok like, who is most likely to do this, who would do that? And one of our friends would create them. And then we’d sit and we wait. And then she sends out the spreadsheet. And we just do it over and over answering Google Forms about each other and laughing at the results. That was just a great way to pass time on buses to and from far games. So that was definitely a memory that I really cherish. And I’m super excited to do it again this year. And for years to come.
TG: That’s awesome. All right. Last bit. We’re calling this word of wisdom. All right, if you could leave the listeners with one thing you’ve learned from playing your sport that you use in your everyday life, one word of advice, what would it be?
LN: Definitely control the controllables just going through my injury, just taking control of what I could do in that moment made me that many times better once I was able to do everything that is necessary in lacrosse. And I’d say especially when you’re if you’re ever doubting where you kind of land on the team or why you’re on a team, I just always, I just always kind of check in and realize what role I play on my team because you may not necessarily be a starter, but there’s always something that you can bring to the team, whether it’s pushing those who start, whether it’s setting an example and doing extra work outside of practice for those who need the example set. Or just honestly being a morale booster because I’ve played all these roles before and it’s just kind of taking advantage of what you can do and maximizing that to your own potential to kind of lead you and your teammates to success.
TG: Awesome. That’s all we have time for today. Thank you for listening and thank you to Lucy for taking us Behind the Bulldog.
This podcast was recorded and edited by myself, Teddy Gerkin, and produced by Amna Shamim and Emily Han.