Editor’s note: This is the first of several features on Philly players that competed at The Ride by Nike
By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/28/13
They were two South Jersey girls making a name for themselves on the large stage.
Moorestown rising senior midfielder Marie McCool and Clearview Regional rising junior midfielder Gianna Bowe – both of whom have committed to National champion North Carolina – will be college teammates in a few years.
But last Monday and Tuesday at the inaugural Nike Ride in Beaverton, Ore. , they roomed together, hung out together and began playing lacrosse together in the spotlight at one of the summer’s elite lacrosse events.
Bowe was named the event MVP and McCool was the winner of the Trick Shot competition as 42 girls joined 35 boys in a Nike Lacrosse event that drew top talent, top training and a smorgasbord of gear for the lucky athletes.
“It was nothing like I expected,” said McCool, an All-American who led Moorestown to its second straight Tournament of Champions title and a ranking of No. 2 by TopLaxRecruits.com.
“It was an incredible experience and it was so much fun – not just getting the free stuff. It was really fun meeting all the new people and playing with the best girls in the country while making new friends.
“The best part was becoming such good friends with Gianna and hanging with her every day.”
McCool said the Nike people showered the girls with new gear and apparel.
“When we first arrived on the Nike campus, they showed us to our lockers and we had a change of clothes for dinner,” she said. “Then next morning we walked in and they had a different outfit. After the morning session and lunch we go back to the locker and we get new uniforms and new matching cleats and socks.
“I didn’t expect to have my locker refilled after every session.”
The gear was great, but the competition was better. Nike invited many of the top players from around the country and McCool enjoyed the SPARQ training and coaching from Michele Tumolo (Clearview grad who starred at Syracuse), current North Carolina standout Kara Cannizzaro and former Maryland great Jenny Collins.
“We did the 20-yard dash and 5-10-10-5’s, we did the vertical jump and we got tested on how far we can throw the ball,” said McCool. “We are the first girls to do the SPARQ and we set the baseline for the next group. That was cool.
“We did drills during the day and then we played a game (Tuesday). It was fun playing with everybody and the players really meshed.”
McCool, who has scored over 150 goals for a powerhouse program, also made her mark for teaming with Bowe and St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (VA) goalie Gussie Johns in developing some amazing trick shots.
Her award-winning shot was a thing of beauty as Johns leaped over Bowe and caught a stick before making a behind-the-back pass to McCool, who then scored on a behind-the-back shot.
“Me and Gianna and a couple guys made up a bunch of stick trick shots,” McCool said. ‘It was a lot of fun.”
Bowe said the gear was like “Christmas morning. Literally, I didn’t expect anything vaguely like this. They left it as a big secret and didn’t tell us anything. Then we find out we can keep all this stuff. You’re like a kid who wants everything.
“I brought this tiny duffel bag and the gear was breaking out. I was in a panic. Gussie took stuff home for me and is sending it up. It’s funny because Marie’s stick and my stick never made it (to Oregon) on the plane. We were freaking out. We were lucky that they provided them for us.”
Bowe, besides bonding with McCool, said it also was great to be coached by Tumolo, who virtually put Clearview Regional on the lacrosse map.
“I played with her sister last year and (Michelle) incredible,” Bowe said. “I am trying to beat her records so to reach the point where she could be my coach was awesome. I have been hearing about her since I picked up a lacrosse stick.”
Winning the MVP award was a shock to Bowe.
“It was just so unexpected,” she said. “Coming from Clearview – we are not a TOC champion – I realized that if you put everything on the field and perform your best, you can do it. You don’t have to be the one that scores all the goals; getting to the groundballs and taking the draw and setting the pick and doing the behind-the-scenes things are what coaches see.”
Bowe said it was great to see Nike treat the girls as special as it did the boys.
“They presented it as thought we are creating the baseline for the next group for female lacrosse players,” she said. “Lacrosse is growing and it is so exciting.
“They are getting involved in the sport and helping it to grow even more. For them to make such an emphasis on girls’ and women’s lax gets everyone into the sport even more.”
Bowe said it was great to become so close with McCool.
“I think it was cool seeing all these girls from Maryland and big schools,” she said. “And here were two South Jersey girls going to the same college. We’ve always been friends, but after this we created such a bond. I know we’ll work so well together in college.”