When Erika Mazer ’18 went on her first running test for the women’s lacrosse team, she ended up in the hospital. She hadn’t trained effectively.
The first-year student was physically outmatched by her teammates. Although she passed the test a few weeks later, it became clear that she was behind in skills and knowledge of lacrosse.
Mazer worked in individual sessions with her coaches to improve. Eventually, she was poised to contribute.
That’s when the back pain hit. Doctors discovered a stress fracture in her back. After she spent her summer on rehabilitation and training, doctors gave her difficult news: Her body couldn’t handle stressful training required for Division I lacrosse.
Mazer still wanted to contribute to the team, so she took on the position of student coach. It’s a role many other medically disqualified athletes ultimately abandon due to distractions and the difficulty of staying close to a sport in which they can no longer compete.
“Over the past two years Erika has become the most valuable member of our lacrosse program,” says head coach Alison Fisher ’01. “Erika is a fully vested and autonomous member of our staff. She manages the responsibilities of being an assistant coach with being a full-time college student.”
Mazer’s comeback through this unexpected role has earned her recognition beyond Lafayette. She’s recipient of the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award, a national honor given annually by OneLove Foundation to recognize the accomplishments of student-athletes who help their teams achieve success “in ways that may not be measured in goals, saves, or ground balls.” The award focuses on integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness, and sportsmanship. Recipients receive money to be given to their favorite charity.
Mazer navigates the boundaries of being a peer, friend, teammate, and staff member, notes Fisher.
“Erika does all of this while being a normal college kid,” the coach wrote in her nomination letter. “One who laughs and cries at all the appropriate times. One who hugs her teammates when they need it but who isn’t afraid to tell them the truth whether they want to hear it or not. She takes care of the younger players when they struggle; she is always available to give someone a ride or pick up a prescription at the local pharmacy. And she always, always upholds the values and goals of the program.”