Injured captain continues to motivate

Bridget Hyland, EIC

The most exciting season of a high school athlete’s career is their senior year, the last time they wear a WHS jersey. But for senior girls lacrosse captain Sydney Paoletti, that opportunity was taken away during the first practice of the season.

In the first two minutes after warm-ups for her final year of tryouts, Paoletti jumped up to take a shot, then landed on one leg and heard a pop. She had torn her ACL.

Paoletti said she knew instantly that her injury was serious. “The first thing I said was, ‘I swear to God, this can’t be happening to me,’ ” she said. “I was crying more out of fear than out of pain.”

The lacrosse team will miss having Paoletti on the field, as she played a large role offensively. Last season, she scored 40 goals, and according to head coach Abigail Cohn, Paoletti always wanted to win and took the opportunity to score whenever she could. Cohn describes her as a player who “loved to have fun while also being serious.”

Senior co-captain Natalie Bond also admires Paoletti’s approach on the field. “As good of a teammate as Syd is, she’s even better on the field,” Bond said. “Not only does she have a wicked shot, but she is deadly on the defensive end of the attack side as well. She’s able to back-check people and cause turnovers with ease.”

Cohn believes that Paoletti’s injury will motivate the rest of the team to play their best this season. “Her teammates have all agreed that they will be playing for her this season,” she said.  “I know that when they think that they want to give up, they’ll remember that Sydney is unable to play and if she were out there, she’d give it her all, so they’d better do the same.”

Despite being disappointed that she cannot play this year, Paoletti is still excited to contribute to the team in the ways that she still can. “My goal is to be just as much a part of the team as I was before, if not even more, because I can help give feedback to my teammates,” she said. “As a part of the sideline I’m seeing what my coaches are seeing, and I can talk to them on a teammate-based level.”

Cohn said that Paoletti has been just like any other coach on the staff. “She has been closely watching her teammates and then giving them feedback,” the coach said. “She wants to make them better and she can provide that for them because she now can watch them as opposed to playing alongside of them.”

Junior co-captain Olivia Shields is also confident that Paoletti will continue to be there for her teammates: “Syd off the field is exactly the way she is on the field, and it’s a great feeling knowing I always have her support, especially when I need her advice.”

Paoletti’s lacrosse career is not over, as she will spend the next four years playing for Columbia University. Even without the opportunity to show off her talents during senior year, Paoletti has already made a lasting impression on the WHS lacrosse program. Said Bond: “Not only is she one of the best attackers the program has ever had, but she is one of the best leaders, too.”

Photo by Lucy Gretsky
Sydney Paoletti is still a team leader despite being sidelined by injury.