While all the national sports focus has shifted to the U.S. men’s soccer team in Brazil, the focus for one Penn athlete shifted to a national team of another sort.
Rising senior defense Meg Markham spent the past weekend trying out for the U.S. women’s lacrosse team in Washington, D.C. along with 83 of the best lacrosse players from around the country. Though Markham didn’t make the final roster, the experience was definitely a valuable one for one of Penn’s key returning starters.
“It’s definitely an experience. I didn’t think that there would be a level higher than D-I college lacrosse but I was wrong,” Markham said. “It’s a much faster game and there’s not really a lot of down time, you’re always going, always competing with the top players in the country.”
The honor was just the latest in a long string for Markham, who has received significant recognition for her stellar season with the Quakers in the past season. The rising senior was named Ivy League defender of the year, as well as first-team All-American and ECAC first-team All-Star.
For Markham, along with many of the players there, it wasn’t an entirely unfamiliar crowd. The list of players trying out was composed of players from other top programs, many of whom played against Penn earlier in the season.
“A lot of the top players that we played during the season, their top scorers, their top defenders, were all there,” Markham said. “It was interesting to play with them and against them.”
In representing the Ivy League, Markham was far from alone. Leading the way for the Ivy League crowd was team USA veteran goalkeeper and 2006 Dartmouth grad, Devon Wills, who earned All-World honors in leading the team to the title in 2013.
Markham was also joined by a number of current Ivy League players including Princeton rising seniors Erin McMunn and Erin Slifer, Harvard rising sophomore Marisa Romeo and Dartmouth rising sophomore Lauren Maiorano.
“It was an honor to be there. I was one of two Ivy League players there [at my position], a lot of players were from the ACC and other top programs,” Markham said. “I felt like I was keeping up with them and it was a great experience having fun with all these top players in the country.”
Markham hopes to bring that experience back and translate it into future success with the Quakers. Just as playing against top-level teams in the NCAA tournament can help foster future success, so too can the individual experience of playing against some of the best lacrosse players of the last decade.
“One of the most interesting parts was playing with these lacrosse players who you grew up knowing and hearing about. Keeping up with them and becoming friends with them and building relationships and they’re giving you compliments that you never thought you would get,” Markham said.
“You’re playing with lacrosse legends and it’s making you better and that opportunity is something that’s once in a lifetime.”
And while some athletes take making the national team as an all-encompassing goal, for Markham the national team wasn’t on her radar until this year.
“I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to try out for the national team, before I even started playing college lacrosse,” Markham said. “It never crossed my mind until my coach suggested that I try it out.”
Even though Markham wasn’t selected to the team following its announcement at the end of the weekend, it might just be the beginning of a long process for a player who hopes to eventually make the team.
“Unfortunately I didn’t make it, but the selectors were saying how it could take two to three years of trying out to actually make the team, so I think trying out each year gives you some new experiences and you learn how to try out in the best way you can.” Markham said.
“We’ll see how next year goes. Hopefully there are no injuries and I’ll be healthy enough, but I’ll definitely try to try out next year.”