Madison Ahern ’19 on Playing for Team USA

Madison Ahern ’19 currently plays for the USA U19 National Lacrosse Team. Maggie Coughlin ’20 interviewed her on her experience as a member of Team USA. Check out what she had to say below!

Thoughts from Madison:

“I’ve wanted to play on this team since I was in 3rd grade. One day I went to Harvard to watch the senior USA team play (including my family friend Acacia Walker) and I remember seeing the U19 team walk by in all of their awesome gear. I thought they were so cool and I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. I’ve followed the USA U19 teams for years hoping that one day I could be one of those girls. I’ve used them as role models for the type of player and person that I want to be. Many years later, it finally seemed possible.

When I was invited to try out for the team last summer, I couldn’t even believe it. I thought it was a long shot that I would make the training team, but I was honored to have the opportunity to play with and against the top 110 players in the country for one weekend. I spent my whole summer training for the try out by running sprints on the NDA turf in the scorching heat, lifting at the gym, and spending countless hours working on my stick work. I felt very prepared for the tryout but I was still so nervous. It was the biggest stage I had ever been on and I knew that it would be tough. The tryout was in Baltimore, Maryland and lasted three days at the beginning of August. The coaches were very intense right out of the gate. They put us through multiple short and full field games with certain offensive and defensive focuses to test our mental and physical toughness at the same time. They ran us very hard to test our fitness. They placed us on ranked teams and switched up our positions to challenge our minds. The whole weekend was very stressful and grueling, but also amazing. Playing with so many skilled players from across the country was incredible. On the last day, they were going to announce the 36 players who made the training team. We went back to the hotel, showered, and then drove back to US Lacrosse Headquarters for the announcement. I have never been more nervous than I was on that bus ride back. I had played well over the weekend, but I had my moments of doubt. As they started calling off our tryout numbers, I was freaking out inside. When I heard the number “66” I was so beyond excited. I couldn’t stop smiling because I knew that all of the work I had put in over the summer, and more importantly over the years, had paid off. Playing for the USA was always my ultimate dream, and that day it finally became reality.

Team USA means everything to me. Just the thought of putting on a jersey that says “USA” across the front gives me the chills. It means that I am not only playing for myself, my teammates, and my coaches, but I’m playing for something more significant: my country. At the Fall Classic in October, we played the Naval Academy as well as the USA senior team. Having my name announced before the Navy game, standing on the field arm-in-arm with my teammates, listening to the national anthem and staring up at the American flag, I started to tear up. It all became clear at that moment. I am so extremely grateful for the experience I have been given and the honor of playing for the USA.

The final roster includes two goalies and sixteen field players. There will be multiple more training weekends in the coming months where they will cut more players. The team of 18 will compete for the World Cup in Canada next summer. I really hope that I will be there vying for the gold medal, but I am so thankful for making it this far in the tryout process. I have taken so much from this experience. I have learned great mental toughness, the importance of playing a team-oriented game, and the feeling of playing for something larger than myself. I have also come away with so many new friends who have similar goals. Through my training, I have pushed my limits and increased my desire to prepare myself for success. There are 20 college players on the training team, so I have been trying to replicate a college workout schedule in order to keep up with their training regimen. This has taught me the kind of dedication and consistent hard work required at the next level. I hope to bring back these values to my team at NDA as I feel that the right mentality and work ethic will propel us towards a championship this spring.”