The Greatest Gift: Generosity of Lacrosse World has Laura Warren Ready to Go

PHOTO BY ADY KERRY


When Laura Warren tore her ACL at the European Championships in 2019 in Israel, a reporter asked her if she thought her playing days were over.

“I just laughed,” Warren said. “I absolutely laughed at her. I was 37, so they just assumed I was done. I was like, ‘No way.’ I had a feeling of calm when it happened.”

It wasn’t the first time Warren would have to pick herself up and stage a comeback. A mother of two, Warren had to work her way back to lacrosse after having children in 2012 and 2015. The first time, she didn’t have the same steady confidence she does now as a seasoned veteran. Juggling lacrosse and an infant during a U.S. tour ahead of the 2013 world championship was exhausting, even for a person whose default facial expression is a smile.

Warren nearly walked away from the game, but her coaches and teammates encouraged her to stick with it. She did. And she has. Warren played in 2013 and again in 2017 after having her second child. This summer, she’ll make her sixth world championship appearance for Wales, and she’s embracing the journey.

“I don’t think the World Cup motivates me to train,” Warren said. “I love training so much, and it helps me in all areas of life. I am a single mom, and I deal with everything myself. The exercise makes me feel strong mentally and physically. It’s my break.”

Lacrosse has been a form of escapism since the moment she stepped on the field in 1990. Her parents had recently split, and playing kept her mind off what was happening at home.

“As soon as he put that stick in my hand, I was absolutely obsessed with it,” Warren said.

Warren also excelled in soccer. After watching “Bend it Like Beckham,” she was determined to go to the United States and play pro soccer. Then, she got a short e-mail from Cindy Timchal, the head women’s lacrosse coach at Maryland at the time.

“It was two or three sentences long and said something like, ‘We would love you to come and play at Maryland,’” Warren said.

Warren didn’t think twice.

“It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t go,” she said. “I just went.”







The decision was a game-changer. Warren played for the Terps from 2002-04. But her minutes on the field were rivaled by what she learned outside the lines.

“My time at Maryland has shaped me into the person I am now,” Warren said. “You have to put hard work in. There are no excuses. You can never blame anyone else if you do something wrong. It comes down to you and your effort. … I really learned how to respect coaches and team players and teamwork as well. You’re all in it together. Sports are your big family.”

It was that family that lifted Warren up after she tore her ACL in 2019. Quitting was never an option, but her road back wasn’t paved by mere determination. There was a year-long waiting list to receive an operation through Wales’ National Health Services. The world championship was slated for 2021, and she worried she wouldn’t be ready in time if she waited until 2020. If she wanted the operation sooner, Warren would have to come up with the £7,500. She didn’t have that. A friend suggested GoFundMe.

“Within 24 hours, we raised £7,500 from the lacrosse world,” Warren recalled, her voice cracking. “It was the best gift I was ever given. That’s why now I find it easy to keep playing — because I have this chance.”

But to get that chance, Warren had to learn to walk before she could run, let alone with a stick against some of the world’s top players. Her recovery fueled a new outlook on the game and fitness.

“I have really learned that it isn’t all about go-hard all the time,” Warren said. “It’s about listening to the body and looking at the fundamentals, your sleep, eating and stretching. …You have to take care of yourself in recovery, too.”

Fully recovered and humbled by the support she received, Warren is ready to return to Maryland, the state that shaped her as a player and person this summer.

“I’m going back home,” Warren said. “That seems a bit unreal, to be honest with you. … One thing about going to Maryland is you make such good friends, and then you scatter. I’m happy to go back home and see where it all started.”

And she’ll be bringing some of the lessons she learned in College Park — and the mindset she had when she hobbled off the field in Israel — with her.

“One of the biggest takeaways from Cindy Timchal is that I learned not to stress and take things moment by moment. You’ve got to enjoy it,” Warren said.

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