By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/20/20
Scottie Rose Growney was on target for All-American status and had helped lead her North Carolina women’s lacrosse team to the No. 1 ranking when all NCAA spring sports came to a halt last week.
But the junior midfielder from Conestoga High was not bitter during an exclusive interview with Phillylacrosse.com. She said the world is suffering and the nation’s health is a little more important.
“Everything is so unsettled and it really stinks, but it’s so important to realize that we really have got to look out for everybody else who could possibly be getting sick,” said Growney. “It’s hard that this had to happen, but you can’t be selfish in these moments. You have to come to terms with that.”
Growney had collected 22 goals, 5 assists and a team-high 31 draw controls for the Tar Heels (7-0) in their first seven games. In her final game, a thrilling 20-18 win March 9 over Northwestern, Growney had perhaps one of the best games by any NCAA player. She had an incredible 10 draws, four goals and an assist and was matched against an array of Wildcats at the draw circle, winning most of the draws to herself.
Earlier, Growney had six goals in a stunning 19-6 rout of defending national champion Maryland, earning her National and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week.
The 2020 season was kind of a coming-out party for Growney, who was not a regular starter her first two years, but emerged as a major contributor for UNC in last year’s ACC’s and NCAA tournament.
Here is Growney’s interview:
Q: Can you describe the events leading up to you learning the season was being cancelled and how you and the North Carolina program reacted?
SRG: “We played (at) Northwestern (last) Monday night and since it was such a late game our coaches decided we’d spend the night there (near Chicago). We got home Tuesday at like 4:30 and by that time rumors were flying. Wednesday comes and we heard the Ivy League was cancelling and we were reaching out to friends that play in the league – they were totally blindsided. Thursday comes and we hear the Patriot League is cancelling and we were looking at each other and asking, ‘What is happening?’
“On the way to our film session we got a text from a coach that said to go to the field for practice. I was in the car with (All-American defender) Emma Trenchard and (Tewaaraton contender) Jamie Ortega and we looked at each other and all started sobbing. We were getting ready to play Notre Dame Sunday (at home in Chapel Hill, NC) and while we were putting on our cleats there was awkward silence. Why wouldn’t we have film? You could hear sniffling, we were really sad, we didn’t know what was going on. Coach (Jenny Levy) comes in smiling, ‘Hey what’s going on, are you guys OK?’ We ask, ‘Is our season cancelled?’ She says everything is fine. Deep down we all knew, but she gave us a speech about enjoying all the little things and that everything is fine. It was one of the most fun practices! I had in the back of my head that this was going to be the last one. She had girls playing all different types of positions; we were cheering so loud and we were so happy for each other. One of our goalies was playing attack; we were having a blast.
“But coaches were on the phone the whole time. After practice I called my dad and said, ‘I think it’s going to be over.’ He was trying to be as supportive as he could. It was so unusual; there wasn’t anything to fix. It wasn’t like we had lost. I felt robbed, it was unfair. But you had to look at the health of everybody else and the safety, and in the end, although it was really hard, it was in the best interest for everybody.
“We went into the locker room and we knew – it was really emotional, I think what was so fun about our team is how easy it was to get along. It might sound unusual when you spend 8-plus months with each other. Sometimes you can see people butting heads; this team was different. We are all really like sisters, and seeing everyone looking around the room, knowing some won’t return (before it was announced the NCAA would grant everyone another year of eligibility), it was like, ‘Wow, these girls are going to be gone.’ It was really hard seeing everyone’s faces, feeling the heartbreak of losing something you love so much. It was really, really hard.”
Q: Now that the NCAA has said it will grant all student-athletes the chance to compete for a fifth year, how does that change your plans?
SRG: “When it was announced girls in my house were literally jumping around so happy. Girls that are seniors are looking for houses for next year, so that’s great. I am definitely coming back for my fifth year. A lot of girls were planning on doing it, too. That’s great, and something to look forward to.”
Q: How are you dealing with being back home and the reality of the situation?
SRG: “It’s really hard to get past the fact I’m home right now. It’s so weird; for God knows how long I have been used to having my March through May being all lacrosse. Now it’s gone and I really have to take a step back and realize what is important. I can already tell life without sports is pretty boring. I think people get to realize it is such an important part of everyone’s lives. But I have to see that I have two more years and that’s really special. I can’t imagine how scary it was for seniors when they thought their careers were over.
“But we can’t be selfish. With discussions we have come to terms with what has happened. We realize we’re lucky we’ll have the opportunity to be even better than we were this year. With our incoming freshman class, the best is yet to come. But I can’t get past the fact that this team was really special. It was a one-of-a-kind team. That’s the part I miss the most; being with my friends and being able to just go out and practice.
“The other thing is something Jenny (Levy) always says. Depending on your day, you may have three tests or midterms or presentations and it’s always nice to have lacrosse as that outlet. To get away from stressful schoolwork for 2 or 3 hours in a day. I think just going out there and having that release and playing is amazing. It is so helpful; really miss that. It’s crazy how you can really take it for granted until it really is gone. I always joke about that metaphor: ‘Treat it like your last game or practice.’ I really didn’t think it would be like this.”
Q: What happened to help you elevate your game on the field late last year and during this season?
SRG: “I started having fun again. I was thinking too much (last year). There were so many little things going on that I let affect me. Either I had a bad game or a bad practice and I would let that turn into a bad week of practice and, not having much playing time the following game, to be completely benched against Boston College. After that game I took a step back to see what I was doing wrong. When I got switched to attack I kind of realized I lost the fun of the game and I think i was playing hard, but I wasn’t playing smart. But the fun of the game – the reason why I fell in love with it – faded away. I started caring about the wrong things and I was working on things that weren’t what I needed to work on. I needed to work on my mental state going into practices and on game day.
“Our offensive coordinator, Katrina (Dowd), really helped get it out of me. She always makes the game look so fun and easy. That’s just because of all the hard work she’s put in to be good. She is a great role model. She helped me to see that it could be like that again. I really had a hard time and struggled a lot. I was flipped all over the place and it was hard to figure out where I could work best. I started to understand my role. In ACC’s, I started getting into the groove. From there on out it’s been smooth sailing. Lacrosse can be fun and easy, but only when you have put in the work. The fun is a result of hard work – putting your head down and doing the little things to get better. I started playing with a chip on my shoulder and that worked in my favor.”