HomeNewsMcLaughlin earned right to be Division I lacrosse star

McLaughlin earned right to be Division I lacrosse star

Lizzie McLaughlin never played lacrosse before she got to Penn Charter. Now she’s a starter at St. Joe’s University. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Lizzie McLaughlin has always been one of the best athletes on all of her teams.

And that was quite a feat because the Torresdale native grew up playing every sport imaginable.

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She was a basketball star. She was a soccer player. She ran track and even played field hockey.

Growing up, it never mattered what sport it was, McLaughlin was out there, competing and usually excelling.

Until she got to high school.

When McLaughlin got to Penn Charter, she signed up to play lacrosse, a sport that she had never tried before she got to high school.

And honestly, even after she signed up, she wasn’t the best. 

“I didn’t pick up a stick until freshman year, and it was very awkward,” said McLaughlin, who played three seasons at Penn Charter before her senior campaign was wiped out due to the pandemic in 2020. “I started playing because of the friends that I made at Penn Charter and I fell in love with it. But it was incredibly frustrating. The stick is so unnatural until you get the hang of it. I just wanted to run with the ball, but I couldn’t because the skills just weren’t there.

“I don’t know why I loved it. I think because I loved being outside in the fresh air after being in the gym all winter during basketball. And I loved the team aspect of it. I loved track, but that was a very individual sport. I tried lacrosse, the coaches were amazing and it really helped me fall in love with it right away even if it took me a while to get better.”

McLaughlin was one of the very few Penn Charter lacrosse players to have no experience, but immediately she became a huge asset to the program.

That attitude ended up helping her not only get a chance to play college lacrosse, but at a Division I school.

She’s been on the team since she arrived and was the exact same asset to the Hawks that she was with the Quakers.

And while at St. Joe’s, she turned into a very good lacrosse player.

And she’s only getting better.

“Honestly, sophomore year of college is when I think I started to get better to the point where I was getting on the field and helping the team on the field,” McLaughlin said. “It honestly doesn’t feel real that I’m playing Division I lacrosse after not playing it my whole life. My natural athleticism carried me most of the way and the ability to be a great teammate whether I was on the field or not helped me. 

“I still struggled with confidence that I need my coaches and my teammates to get me through. I didn’t feel like a skilled lacrosse player until sophomore or junior year of college. And I had so much help getting there with this team.”

Hard work pays off, and that’s how McLaughlin got on the field.

And once she got there, she stayed there.

In her senior season, she became a key member of the Hawks defense, starting 10 games and playing in 15. She picked up 12 ground balls and caused three turnovers this year. She also helped the Hawks record the first shutout in program history in a win over George Mason. 

She turned into a Division I lacrosse player who can be counted on in key situations, while continuing to be the teammate she’s been her entire life.

And good news for the Hawks, she’ll be back next year.

Though she already graduated with a dual major in marketing and Leadership, Ethics and Organizational Sustainability, she’s headed back to school for a master’s degree and she’ll play her final season of eligibility while doing so.

Not only will she be doing what she loves, she’ll be doing it at a place she loves with people she loves.

Coming back was a no-brainer.

“The coaches at St. Joe’s are amazing,” McLaughlin said. “I help with recruiting. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t believe it myself. Alex (Kehoe) is one of the best coaches I”ve ever worked with, she cares about us so much, more than as lacrosse players, she cares about everyone as people and students. She was one of the main reasons why I was able to excel in lacrosse. Not only taking a chance on me, but she saw me as a person and the potential I have. I am so thankful for her. She’s amazing.

“I want to be here, it was a very easy decision to come back and do the master’s program. It was perfect for me.”

McLaughlin is happy she put in the work.

She worked herself into a Division I player, but she’s quick to pass out praise to her teammates, her high school and her parents.

It doesn’t matter what team she’s on, McLaughlin is a great teammate.

“I would not be here without my parents, both of them, no question about it,” said McLaughlin, who next year will play a season of club lacrosse in Australia. “When I first started thinking about going to Penn Charter, I wasn’t keen on the idea. It was so different from everything I knew. My parents were so adamant about it and looking back, they were so right. So thankful that they pushed me out of my comfort zone and knew how great of an opportunity. 

“When I got recruited by St. Joe’s, it was close to home and I didn’t like that they didn’t have a football team. But I’m so glad I went there. Being able to go there and have (my parents) at all of my home games and most of my away games, it was beyond special. Even if I didn’t touch the field, I know they have supported me all four years. It’s so special to me, beyond the sport. But it meant a lot playing.”

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