Feb. 24, 2014
Christie Donovan loves playing lacrosse, but if she had her druthers, she'd be playing a different sort of lacrosse.
"I love lacrosse and I love playing women's lacrosse, but I really love playing men's lacrosse," Donovan said. "It really is a completely different game with the style and the pace and the quick passing. I think what I really like is the constant subbing of people on and off, much like hockey."
Donovan speaks from experience not just as a fan, but a veteran of boy's lacrosse.
"I first started playing lacrosse in third grade, playing with the boys' team because girls' lacrosse didn't start until fifth grade," Donovan said. "I played boys' lacrosse third and fourth grade and then they kicked me and my other friend off the team because girls lacrosse had started in fifth grade. All of the other girls had wanted to start playing boys as well."
Donovan and her best friend, Casey Griffin, had grown up playing with their older brothers and thought nothing of competing with and against boys. It wasn't just in lacrosse, either.
"We grew up playing ice hockey, because our older brothers and our dad played ice hockey," Donovan said. "I started playing hockey when I was six and played with the boys. In middle school, I was the only girl on our team from sixth through eighth grade. I was used to playing with the boys, but I also played hockey on a girls' club hockey team.
"I initially started skating when I was two. I did figure skating for a year before I played hockey. It was pretty helpful, learning how to skate and edges. It was helpful in transitioning into being a good skater in hockey. I wasn't really into figure skating. I needed more of a contact and stick-and-ball-type sport. I literally begged my mom (Lynn) not to make me go back and do figure skating and let me transfer over to hockey."
Donovan and her friend Casey found a way for hockey to really help with their boys' lacrosse careers.
"We wore our hockey pads and our hockey helmet to our games and to practice every single day," Donovan recalled. "We loved the aggressiveness and liked playing with boys, but the pads helped." In addition to the equipment, there was another carryover from hockey to lacrosse for Donovan.
"I was a left wing in hockey partly because I played left handed," Donovan explained. "Ice hockey and lacrosse are the only two sports that I play lefty. I write with my right hand, but I play ice hockey and lacrosse with my left hand. It just feels more comfortable playing with my left. My father (Bob) and my brother (Billy) and I are the same. They play lacrosse and ice hockey lefty."
Donovan kept playing hockey through her junior year of high school.
"I love hockey, but I had more of a passion for lacrosse and saw more of a future for myself in lacrosse," Donovan said.
Her passion for lacrosse led the native of Hingham, Mass. to pursue her future in the sport in Charlottesville with the Cavaliers.
"I miss Boston and, though I miss it a little less with all of the snow we are having this year," Donovan said. "I love Virginia and I am glad that I did something different and came to Virginia. Coming on grounds, everything just seemed like a true college to me. The feel of it was something different than anything I had experienced and different than what any of my friends were doing, college-wise. UVa had academics and athletics that were both at the top, that was important for me, so this is where I decided to come."
Over her four years, she has cultivated many precious memories, including scoring her first career goal her freshman year against George Mason, shooting it into the lower-right-hand corner of the net.
"My greatest memory for the team was beating Duke last year in the ACC Tournament and advancing to the second round," Donovan said. "The week leading up to ACC's, we spent a lot of time together and made a lot of sacrifices. We had to run The Hill at 7 a.m. one morning. We had double sessions. It was a lot of hard work that paid off."
As the midfielder enters her final season, it isn't the game-winning moments that she feels she will miss the most once she graduates in May. It is the hard work that she and her teammates do together to create those moments.
"Even though practices can be tough and hard and long sometimes, it's nice just to be able to get away from classes and have the luxury of going to practice everyday with all of your best friends and playing the sport that I love," Donovan said. "I will miss all of my friends and the community here at UVa and the school itself. I love The Lawn. It is so pretty and there is so much history there. I love walking down The Lawn to classes every day."
The history major is currently interviewing for jobs, eyeing an entry-level sales position. She eventually wants to follow in the footsteps of her parents and her brother and pursue a career in finance.
In the meantime, she is very thankful for having the experiences that lacrosse has afforded her.
"Thank you to my teammates for pushing me," Donovan said. "Thank you to my parents for never giving up on me and always being my biggest role models and for supporting me for all my four years and throughout my life."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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