Courtesy of Emerson Athletics
The women’s lacrosse team announced juniors Amelia Toscano and Julia Burns and seniors Lily Nelson and Kelli Mark as its captains via Instagram on Feb. 12 for the 2021 season.
For Burns and Toscano this will be their third season for Emerson College and a second full season after last year’s cancellation. Nelson and Mark are entering their fourth and final season with the Lions.
The process was different from past years, as the team voted for captains on a Google Form. The team hasn’t had four captains in previous years, but head coach Jessie Koffman believes it’s a positive with the way the season is structured.
“One of the good things about having four captains, especially because we’re gonna have to start off the season with our practices being in functional groups, is that two are in each group,” Koffman said in a phone interview. “The way that I split up the captains I feel like one is more vocal and the other one sort of leads by example.”
Koffman also referenced how not all captains lead in the same way, with some being more vocal than others, but she stressed that those different styles of leadership are what give them more solidarity as a group.
“They all don’t lead by example, but it’s really great, all the different personalities that we have in the four captains and the different ways that they show leadership,” Koffman said. “We’re not all as close as we have been in the past year because you’ve been so separated in our groups and stuff, it’s good to have different personalities and different leadership styles.”
Toscano, a junior defender and one of the two juniors selected for the captaincy, described the feeling of joy once she was informed.
“I was really excited, especially since this year, myself and Julia are juniors and the four of us are all super close as well,” Toscano said in a phone interview. “I can do something we’re all really excited about considering we’re able to lead the team together and in a time when leadership is definitely needed.”
Toscano points to her ability to communicate as a strong aspect of her leadership style, and said leading the team is nothing new to her.
“I just always try to lead by example [and] try to encourage my teammates,” Toscano said. “I just want to continue doing that. And I think now that I’m officially a captain, I’m going to be able to step up more and try to guide everyone through that.”
Burns, the other junior captain, has started all 14 games she has played in for the Lions. She describes herself as a silent leader who speaks through her actions rather than her words.
“I could be a junior or sophomore on the team, and I’m still hustling to get the balls after practice or to move net,” Burns said in a Zoom interview. “Little things here and there, on and off the field, kind of define me as a leader. A big part of being a leader, too, is a sense of vulnerability and friendship, and I think people know that they can depend on you or come to you on and off the field.”
Burns appreciated Koffman’s decision to have four captains.
“It’s really nice to have two older people on the team [as captains who] really were seniors, and I think it’s very beneficial actually to have two junior captains,” Burns said. “I think it’s nice for me and Amelia to be able to learn from the seniors.”
Mark is a returning captain, as she was also chosen for the position last year. She has also shown results on the field with 39 goals in her 27 games for the Lions.
As for her leadership style, Mark is focused on leading by example.
“I don’t really like to be the one that’s loud and necessarily having my voice heard, but I like to always go out on the field or in the gym and give it 100 percent,” Mark said. “[I] give off an energy that I know the team can kind of go off of and continue to ride off of. I think actions speak louder than words.”
Nelson has had a long career with Emerson, scoring 10 goals in her three years on the team. She said her selection as a captain appropriately wraps up her career as a Lion.
“It’s been a long road,” Nelson said in a phone interview. “Kelly and I are the only two seniors left from our original [first-year]class on the team, so being named as co-captains together was a really nice moment for us as teammates and also friends.”
Despite the level of commitment and competition the sport demands, NCAA Division III programs don’t offer scholarships to student-athletes. Nelson has always been at the forefront to remind her teammates why they are on the team.
“What will make me a good captain is I’ve always emphasized the importance of making sure that we’re still all having fun with the sports,” Nelson said. “All athletes at our school are playing sports because we really want to be there and we really love it.”