Captain Lowe sets bar high for Laker program

Courtesy / Doug Witte;
Junior attack Sarah Lowe

Courtesy / Doug Witte; Junior attack Sarah Lowe

Adam Knorr

Grand Valley State University christened a brand new athletic program three years ago in women’s lacrosse. When the fledgling team met early in its inaugural season, it was tasked with picking a captain.

The young program fittingly chose a freshman.

GVSU exceeded all expectations in its first two seasons while growing into the team to beat in the GLIAC, and as it enters its third year, Sarah Lowe is still the captain.

Lowe tried to pinpoint exactly what makes her such an ideal captain for the team as the Lakers gear up to hit the bulk of their season.

“I don’t know if leaders are born or made,” she said. “I’m really loud and outgoing and that attributes a lot of the reason that I’m in the position I am.

“A lot of situations I’ve been put in have allowed me to grow my leadership skills and have a strong voice on the team.”

Aside from her strong vocal skills, she had something going for her that many on the inaugural team did not — experience.

The lifelong athlete first picked up lacrosse in seventh grade and continued her development through high school, where she was named a captain for both the lacrosse and ski teams at Okemos High School.

Lowe’s six years of experience in the sport set her at a higher peg than many of her teammates right off the bat — and she hasn’t disappointed.

She originally intended to play lacrosse at Michigan State University, but after one semester, she decided to head to Allendale to play for head coach Alicia Groveston at GVSU.

Lowe lived up to expectations in her first season as a redshirt freshman. She scored nine goals and, befitting of a captain, dished out 21 helpers to hold the team lead in assists.

After being chosen as captain again in her sophomore season, Lowe simply upped her level of play. Once again, she led the team in assists, this time with 20, to match her impressive 20-goal total. She was named to the All-GLIAC Second Team and led her team to its first GLIAC Championship.

“Her understanding of the game really helps her to be successful and express what coach wants,” said Alyssa Neumen, the 2013 GLIAC Defender of the Year. “She’s very good at being vocal and at getting her points across.”

The Lakers, who are now two games into their 2014 campaign, will look to Lowe not only to replicate her statistical success from seasons past, but also to meld the plethora of young Lakers into a cohesive unit. Her strong vocal presence and blindingly apparent skill make her a leader for the newer players to gravitate toward.

During GVSU’s 1-1 start, Lowe has seen her early-season role take that of a goal-scorer. In a 16-10 loss at No. 14 Lindenwood University, she notched two goals, one of which gave the Lakers a brief lead.

In the second game, a 21-4 obliteration of McKendree University, Lowe was one of four Lakers to tally a hat trick, tying her for the team lead with five goals this season.

Not that stats matter much to the captain.

“It’s not about being the person who scores a lot of goals or gets all the glory,” she said. “It’s about helping my teammates be the best they can be.”

And help she does.

The third-year veteran has come to understand the program and its inner workings as well as anyone. As Groveston has built the program up, the current juniors and seniors have been able to lend a hand in its development and shape.

This year’s team features seven freshmen, all of whom need guidance in adjusting to and understanding the demand and intensity of collegiate sports.

“The captains have done a great job of imparting wisdom before they get here,” Groveston said. “We’ve developed our own style and the new players have come in and not really known my expectations.

“Sarah has done a really good job of making sure they’re aware of what they need to accomplish. She can make friends with anyone.”