When Anne Newell Robertson '57 first began playing lacrosse at Winsor, the sticks were too heavy, the field was too narrow and there were no cleats available for women. And she loved every minute of it. "My love of the sport began on these fields, so I really owe them a debt of gratitude," said Anne with a smile while talking about the history of the game with this year's lacrosse team in the Epker-Sinha Wildcat Room on Monday, May 8, 2017.
Women's lacrosse has come a long way since those early days, thanks in large part to the coach Winsor recruited during Anne's Class III year."Maggie Boyd was the best. She was a world-class lacrosse player who began building and coaching the best women's lacrosse teams in England. And when she came to Winsor, she turned everything around." Miss Boyd, who was ultimately inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, began coaching a number of different clubs and teams in the area, and "was instrumental in changing the game for women in the U.S."
"First thing she did was order us new top-of-the-line sticks to replace the old, heavy sticks we were using," Anne recalled, passing around several old sticks for the girls to inspect. "They were fabulous!" And then she did something else that was unheard of: she found a rubber manufacturer in Ontario to custom-make cleats for the team. Anne passed around a pair, pointing out the flat bottoms and simple cork insoles, noting that while they were nothing like the shoes of today, they were a huge improvement over sneakers.
With the right equipment, and topnotch coaching, the future of lacrosse was born. "It was incredible. Once I hit Class V, we never lost a game. We were just dominant. We really were the novel ones in those days."
Anne went on to play for Smith College and the national team before becoming a coach herself, and her passion for the game was contagious. The girls listened and laughed as she shared stories about the lack of boundaries and rules in her day, and the benefits of Winsor's too-narrow field for learning quick, tight passing and how to size up a situation.
No one in the room will ever forget her recount of the once-in-a-lifetime trip the Winsor team took with Miss Boyd to New York City for a lacrosse exhibition in what turned out to be the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel. "Can you imagine!" she marveled. "There we were, a bunch of young girls, going through the New York City subway with our lacrosse sticks. Oh, the questions we heard! 'Are you going butterfly catching?' What an experience!"
When asked what was the most valuable thing she learned during those years playing for Miss Boyd, Anne left the girls with timeless words of wisdom. "Spend the first 5 minutes of any game sizing up your opponents. Not just the person covering you, but the whole team. Figure out what they are good at and take advantage of their weaknesses. And above all else, the team is what counts. Some of your teammates are going to be stronger than you. Others aren't going to be as strong. But an individual can't win a game. You have to lift each other up, rely on each other, and always work as a team."