2011-02-10 / News

Abbood plans to make most of final lax season at Cal

By Geoff Campbell

Photo courtesy of GoldenBearSports.com Photo courtesy of GoldenBearSports.com Emily Abbood entered Moses Brown as a third grader and she recalls picking up her first lacrosse stick during recess one day. That was the beginning of a success story that continues today.

Now a senior co-captain and a four-year starter on the University of California at Berkeley women’s lacrosse team, Emily has been shouldered with a unique burden.

In September, well before the start of the lacrosse season, the university announced that it was dropping five athletic programs including men’s and women’s gymnastics, baseball, rugby, and women’s lacrosse.

A Sept. 29 press release from the university said that the cost savings would be approximately $4 million annually. The cost cutting, which has accompanied the “Great Recession,” had already taken aim at academic programs. Cal’s other 24 athletic teams were deemed “safe” following the cuts.

Abbood said that the university gave the teams a choice to play this season’s schedule or not. For Emily, there was no choice. She said that while the younger players occasionally find it hard to motivate themselves, Emily and the other co-captains are always there to help maintain their focus and to accomplish what they set out to do at the beginning of the season.

The preseason ended Saturday in a round-robin warm-up. Cal won three games and lost one. Abbood said that a sustaining goal this season is to prove to the country that women’s lacrosse at Cal should not have been cut.

She said that rumors had surfaced sporadically prior to the September announcement but nonetheless she was shocked and said that the reality was hard to face. “It’s been a part of you and it’s taken away,” she said. “That’s tough.”

Now, she said, there is a movement to raise the money that would reinstate all five programs. Led by the rugby and baseball teams, both of which have been successful, Cal boosters and alumni have raised $17 million of the necessary $25 million. According to Emily, the university says that the reinstatement is an all-or-nothing proposition. She remains optimistic.

Emily said that she has learned a great deal from the challenge. With the first game of the new season – perhaps the final season – scheduled for Friday against Stanford, Emily said that she is looking forward to finishing the season well.

Learning from athletic participation is nothing new to Abbood. At Moses Brown, she was a fouryear varsity starter on the lacrosse team, a three-year indoor track sprinter, a four-year varsity starter on the soccer team and a member of the inaugural girls’ ice hockey team during her senior year.

She said that the schedule made her a better student, forcing her to be “super organized” in order to find the balance necessary to be good in both arenas.

As a lacrosse player, Emily was the star on two state champion teams. She was a captain in her senior year, was named First Team All State three times, and as a senior she was named a high school All American. She also broke the Moses Brown record for scoring with 296 points – 221 goals and 82 assists.

Abbood recognizes that the commitment to excellence required sacrifices, but she names her team experiences as “her best experiences.” She said she has learned discipline, collaboration, how to learn from critical feedback and how to deal with adversity by working with a team. She added that the hard work has taught her humility and it has made her a stronger person.

At Cal, Emily has twice been awarded All-Academic and All- Conference honors. So far she has earned it in each year that she has been eligible.

A public health major, Emily believes that health care in this country is a mess, but that it is headed in the right direction. Specifi cally she mentioned the innovative work being done to allow for self-directed intervention for obesity where patients choose to join an online program to address the issue.

Emily added that she wants to be part of the change that can better facilitate the relationships between doctors and patients. She said, “Primary prevention is what needs our attention.”

In full pursuit of her goals, Emily is applying for admission to post-baccalaureate programs that will allow her to complete her pre-med requirements. With medical school in her future, she said that she also wants to earn a master’s degree in public health.

As for the future of health care in the United States, Emily remains optimistic: “We will figure it out.”

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