Life After Lax: Caitlin Erickson, Women's Football Player

PHOTO BY KATELYN METZGER

Erickson is the head women's lacrosse coach at Culver-Stockton College.


This story appears in the January 2020 edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Head to USLacrosse.org to subscribe.

Caitlin Erickson never envisioned herself playing lacrosse. Or coaching lacrosse. She definitely never saw herself as a football player, either.

While starring as a field hockey goalie at Lindenwood, Erickson was convinced to join the lacrosse team. Then, just after college, football became a passion.

Just a few years later, Erickson is a three-time national champion and three-time All-American in the Women's Football Alliance for the St. Louis Slam. She’s also the lacrosse coach at Culver-Stockton College.

Erickson took time with us to reflect on her diverse athletic career.

How did your athletic background lead you to lacrosse?

I played softball from junior high to the end of high school. I played soccer like first grade through sixth grade, the typical in-house league. Then I started playing field hockey in high school. I did that sophomore through senior year. That’s actually how I got into lacrosse. I went to Lindenwood University to play field hockey, and the lacrosse coach asked me to play lacrosse.

Of course, the first year I started to play lacrosse, I stopped the ball more with my body than I would with my stick, just like I did in field hockey.

What’s your favorite lacrosse memory?

My last game ever. We were playing for third and fourth place in the [WCLA] national tournament in Arizona. I came in for the second half because the other goalie was just having an off game, and I played the best game of my life. I was so amped.

What’s rewarding about coaching?

The chance to consistently learn and give all that back to my players. At the same time, being able to watch them grow — the happiness on their faces when they get an A on a test or when they get a job out of college. Just being able to give back to them in any way I can.







When did football become a reality?

The semester after I finished my final lacrosse season, The [Slam] had tryouts on campus at Lindenwood. I had a lot of friends who were players or coaches at that time, and they were pumping me up to do it. I tried out twice and made the team. It’s really hard at first, but after a while, it was just as natural as it was for me to suit up in field hockey goalie gear.

Why is football your passion?

It’s the physicality in it. I do everything in life with a little bit of intensity. It gives me that extra relief I need in my life. I telly my players all the time, “Use where you’re at. Use it as your outlet, your escape from life.”

What’s the biggest difference between the NFL and WFA?

We’re completely padded, 11-on-11 football. We play NCAA rules. We do play with a Pop Warner ball, just because women’s hands are naturally smaller. Just like women’s basketball plays with a smaller ball. But besides that, there really isn’t a difference.

What’s it like to play football as a woman?

It’s awesome. Every single person that I meet when we walk talk about it, they tell me, “You’re the first female football player that I've met.” There are more and more girls trying out for their high school football teams in positions other than kicker. There’s more in youth leagues, too. Just because of the physical make-up of a female 8-year-old compared to a male 8-year-old, those girls are kicking butt.

It’s a great opportunity, and it’s something that’s still very new. We’re still struggling to attract that attention, especially on the local level. I would like to se the game grow, because it’s been around for a few decades now. This is fully padded football. It’s not just a lingerie league. There’s hard hits and fast runs. I just wish there was a little bit more awareness of it.

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