Goal Oriented: Jessica Lillquist '15 Reflects on Life as a Student Athlete

Smith lacrosse midfielder Jessica Lillquist ’15 says her grades always go up during the season.

Jessica Lillquist ’15 was just a fourth grader when she picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time. A natural athlete—her other sports have included swimming, soccer and indoor track—Lillquist went on to lead her Connecticut high school’s lacrosse team to four straight East Coast Conference championships. At Smith the midfielder now reigns as the Pioneers’ co-captain and top scorer, with 56 goals in the 2013 season and 43 in 2014. “Jessica is the heart and soul of the Smith lacrosse team,” head coach Jennifer Nardi says. “When you watch her play, you can see that she puts her heart out there each and every day. She’s an inspiration.” The environmental science and policy major talks here about all things “lax.”

WHY LACROSSE? “I loved the amount of action in the game—just getting to run so much. That’s how I got into the midfield position, because I liked playing both defense and offense.”

WHY SMITH? “I wanted to do a Division III program because academics were always very important to me, but I needed a sport to stay active. Smith was just perfect because it had that academic challenge, but it also had the DIII program, where I knew I would get playing time.”

ON BEING A STUDENT ATHLETE: “It’s a lot of work, but I’ve always been a student athlete, so I can’t imagine a lifestyle without it because my GPA is always better during season. It’s just figuring out time management.”

ON WINNING OR LOSING:  “For the team, winning is very important. Of course, there’s that element of ‘just have fun’ and ‘do your best,’ but it’s still very competitive. We always have the mindset that we’re in it to win it—no matter what.”

HER LUCKY STICK: “I’ve had the same stick since high school. It has a bright-purple shaft, which is the stick part of it. It dented my first year at Smith, so I got the same stick to make sure I had that shaft because I knew I couldn’t play without it.”

HER LUCKY NUMBER: “I chose it because of [professional soccer player] Julie Foudy, and all throughout high school I was number 11. My first year at Smith someone else had 11, but then I got it my sophomore year. I got my lucky number back.”

ON BEING THE PIONEERS’ LEADING SCORER: “I love to shoot. I have a goal in my backyard at home, so that’s what I like to practice in my free time or out of season.”

ON TWICE NETTING SEVEN GOALS IN ONE GAME: “Sometimes you just get on a roll. You’re feeling the fire, you just want to keep driving, and you get that confidence to keep going to goal.”

This article appears in the Summer 2014 SAQ .