The Finish Line: Charlotte Rath
"Two boys in Boston reminded me why I played sports and where it all began. Kiddy kickers."
By Charlotte Rath '17, Lafayette Women's Lacrosse
| The Finish Line
The Finish Line, a special section of The Real Deal, is a series of first-person stories written by recently graduated student-athletes, reflecting on their Lafayette experience.
Somewhere on an unlined, uncut, divot-filled field stands a group of youngsters circled around their volunteer coach. That coach just finished working her full-time job and scrambled to get to the field on time. That coach used her lunch hour to develop a practice plan for the evening's session. That coach tossed the well-thought-out plan aside five minutes into practice realizing that tonight the kids just needed to burn some energy and play.
We all know that coach. She's at the heart of why we play sports.
Two boys reminded me of that fact when I needed it most.
On May 2, 2017, as I walked off the lacrosse field for the last time as a collegiate student-athlete (that was incredibly hard to write those words), tears flowing down my face and candidly feeling a bit sorry for myself, I spotted a few youngsters knocking around a soccer ball.
I paused as the tears began to bounce off my smile which surprisingly emerged as I watched their joy in simply playing a game. Without saying a word they told me it was going to be okay. They reminded me why I played sports and where it all began...
Yep, that soccer tot is me dreaming not of college lacrosse but of becoming the next Kristine Lilly. Cur Non?
While I came nowhere close to becoming the next USA soccer phenom, don't blame my coaches. Over the past 15 years, I've been blessed to have been coached by men and women who dedicated their time to my success in sports and in life.
As this collegiate chapter of my life closes and I reflect, my immediate thanks goes to all those who have supported me through four amazing years at Lafayette College. Words do little to capture how I feel. I am forever grateful to family, friends, teammates, coaches, trainers, professors and staff who have all been there for me. My heart aches knowing it's over. I hope I have made you proud.
But that little girl smiling above wants to reach back a bit further and acknowledge a few people who probably don't want to be mentioned. These folks were my first coaches, mentors and long-time friends. They lived "Cur Non" before Lafayette was ever a thought in my mind.
They are the ones who cut and lined the fields, developed the practice plans, worked and played with me for endless hours, put a gentle hand on my shoulder, whispered words of encouragement and never once asked for anything other than my best effort. Mom, Dad, Caroline, Meg, Soph, Coach Lauren, Aunt Kathy, Uncle Rick, Aunt Linds, Uncle Jer, and the Malfitano clan, thank you. I fell in love with sports because of you. I became a collegiate student athlete because you believed in me. I accomplished so much as a Lafayette student because you helped me lay the foundation to be successful at any college or university. I will embrace life after college without fear because you taught me through your words and actions what it takes to look at a door, say why not and then open it.
Dad and Uncle Rick, you were my first coaches.
You began teaching sports' "life lessons" from the moment we could lace them up. Forever grateful to you both for breaking it down in simple terms - -to be successful in life you need to be a good teammate, run hills and eat ice cream.
You are the volunteers every kid needs.
Mom and Aunt Kathy (back row, far left and far right), you were my first lacrosse coaches and not because you knew lacrosse. In fact, you spent an entire vacation week reading books and watching videos because no one else volunteered.
I still remember you telling us at the first practice that we might not learn much lacrosse but we would have fun, and learn to become strong confident women. Forever grateful to you both for being the role models every young girl needs.
Meg and Soph, we've been together for as long as I can remember.
You've taught me what it means to be a true friend. No more need be said.
Forever grateful for your friendship.
Coach Lauren, we met when I was an impressionable 12-year-old in seventh grade. Every 12-year-old girl needs you.
You define energy, optimism, faith, perseverance, trust, belief, and heart. Your passion is contagious. You made me believe in me.
When I transferred high schools and lost you as my coach, I was fearful that I might lose you altogether.
Instead, you came to my high school games, supported me and continued to teach me true sportsmanship. If that's not enough, you sent me a good luck text before every collegiate game and attended at least one every year.
This year, following our loss to Rutgers, I looked up after our cool-down laps and there you were in the stands cheering my name and telling me you were proud of me.
You are the reason I love lacrosse. But most importantly, you taught me that chocolate chip cookies are more than a simple post game gift.
Dad, I'm not sure where to begin or end.
You write me letters; real letters on stationary. Who does that anymore?
I know I joke about that with you, because it's so old school, but you're the anchor I have always needed - - unconditional love, unconditional support and unsolicited advice.
Your quotes keep me smiling. You've taught me that there's a time to stand up and a time to sit, a time to speak and a time to listen. While I still have a long way to go, know that you've prepared me for the journey. Even when we are not together, I still hear you whisper sweet dreams.
My heart is yours. Here's a final pregame wave for you.
Momma Chica, you are the woman I hope to become.
Every day you love me the way love is supposed to be, with an endless heart. You are the one person I know who is truly at peace.
You never stand in the spotlight, although on so many occasions it should be pointed right at you. You are the strongest person I will ever know, Gram being a close second. Yet you are a ridiculous amount of fun.
You know when it's time to ride roller coasters and when a merry-go-round might be the better choice. More importantly, you've taught me to enjoy both rides.
I cannot begin to tell you what you mean to me, but know that when you need me, I will already be there.
Peace out applesauce. Love you, mean it.
Caroline, what we have is not capable of description and I would not be doing it justice to try. Instead here are a few memory prompts:
For more first-person accounts from Lafayette student-athletes, check out the Finish Line stories in The Real Deal.
For full coverage of this past weekend's graduation ceremonies, visit the Commencement home page.
- Baby's must-wear diapers
- Buttering the couch
- Baby powder + baby oil = bad idea
- UA Raiders
- Cards at the kitchen table
- Crunchy chicken
- 23 cousins
- Easter egg hunt injuries
- Weekends at the shore
- Backdoor friends
- Cookies always on the counter
- Archmere Auks
- Our last game together
You have a rare gift; you are content being you. Each day I try to take a little piece from your playbook because you are that special.
Wherever this life takes us, we will travel together.
Well that's a wrap.
Here's a toast to all who have supported me on this journey.
And next time you cruise by a field of kiddy kickers, shout thanks to the volunteers molding the next group of young men and women.