Born into a sailing family, islander makes her mark off the water
Jamestown’s Sydney Ferguson comes from a sailing family. Her father Scott is a world-class competitive sailor and a leading designer for Oracle Racing’s America’s Cup effort. Sydney Ferguson followed the family sailing tradition until her sophomore year of high school when she took a very different athletic path.
Ferguson spent her early childhood years living in Newport, but her family moved to Jamestown when she was 6 years old. She attended the Jamestown schools, and went on to North Kingstown High. It was while she was in high school that the sport of lacrosse came to her attention, largely because it was an activity that several of her friends were involved in.
“In my sophomore year I decided to try out and bag the sailing,” said Ferguson, who is now a captain and senior midfielder on the Wheaton College women’s lacrosse team. “My parents were totally supportive. I fell in love with it and kept going.”
Ferguson recalls her high school lacrosse experience as a joy because she was playing with her friends. It became bigger than that when she decided that she wanted to continue playing in college. She was named captain of the NKHS team in her senior year, and made the All-State team.
“I was pretty good at it and I caught on fast. I started doing summer leagues throughout high school.”
Initially Ferguson was interested in attending bigger schools, like the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but she soon realized that if she wanted to continue playing lacrosse, she would have to look at Division-III schools. Before transferring to Tufts, her mother Kim had attended Wheaton College and thought that the Norton, Mass., school would be a good fit for her daughter.
“I ended up meeting with the coach and things just rolled from there,” Ferguson said.
The coach who recruited Ferguson for Wheaton was gone just a few months after Ferguson arrived, but the school allowed the players to help in the selection process for a new coach. In any event, Ferguson was primarily interested in simply playing.
“We were really involved in the process of choosing the coaches,” Ferguson said. “We ended up choosing Emily Kiablick and she just completely turned the program around. It was an amazing four years.”
Kiablick noticed immediately that Ferguson was athletic and that she had the potential to run the midfield. She was used on the attack initially while her defensive skills were being developed.
“She’s quick, she’s fast, she’s agile,” the coach said. “She’s always made plays that leave you a little bit amazed.”
It took Ferguson a little bit of time to make the starting lineup in her freshman year. She recalls that there were a lot of good players on the team and being a little intimidated. By her sophomore year, she was in the starting lineup as a midfielder.
“As a midfielder, you have to be an overall athlete,” Ferguson said. “You’re responsible for a lot: offense, defense and transition. There’s a lot on the table for a midfi elder. I thrive off of all of those positions combined. If you’re athletic enough to take it on, it’s a great position to be in.”
The Wheaton lacrosse team grew in stature as Ferguson’s time with them went on. In her junior year the team made the semifinals of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Tournament, but was roundly beaten by Springfield College, 18-9. This year they met Springfield again in the semis, but the result was quite different. The teams were tied 6-6 until Springfield scored the game-winner with 13 seconds to go. Springfield went on to win the NEWMAC Championship against Babson, and with it an automatic bid to the national tournament.
“We could have easily been there,” Ferguson said. “However, things didn’t quite work out that way. The talent matchup was defi- nitely significantly better than it had been in the past.”
However, all was not lost in the conference tournament. It has just been announced that Wheaton will be the top seed in this week’s Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. The team is also the tournament’s host, which will take place over the weekend.
“The past two practices have been really intense,” Ferguson said. “We’re just focusing on ourselves and trying to keep our heads straight with finals, and making sure that we’re all still focused on the same goal, which is to win the ECAC tournament.”
Ferguson was named team captain for her senior year. She was also named to the NEWMAC All-Conference Team for the first time, and received an award from her school for playing the most games during her career there. In fact, with her next appearance on the field, Ferguson will set the record for most games played by any female lacrosse player at Wheaton.
“I had never gotten an All-Conference before,” Ferguson said, who was third on the team with 40 points (31 goals, nine assists). “It was a big step in my athletic career. As a midfielder, you’re running the whole field, and sometimes there aren’t that many statistics to show how much you really do in the transition, which is huge in the game.”
Ferguson describes her leadership qualities as a combination of being outspoken and leading by example. She has never missed a practice during her career. Her coach regards her as the strongest player she has ever coached, and Ferguson considers herself fortunate that she has avoided injuries that would have kept her off the field.
“That’s the kind of dedication that’s important to me in every area of life,” Ferguson said. “You show up ready to play.”
Ferguson is a psychology major with a minor in education, but she has no plans to pursue a career in the field – at least not right away. “I’ve been asked to do a few coaching jobs. I’m going to take the summer off and do a lot of traveling. Come fall, I’m going to start looking for jobs and see where that leads me.”
Kiablick thinks that coaching would be a great way to go for Ferguson. “She just understands the game so well. I think she could really help out in that way. She’s such a good player right now.”