Lacrosse never was supposed to be anything more than an enjoyable diversion for Blake junior Hannah Magarian.
Magarian was recruited last winter to play for the Blake girls’ lacrosse team. The Bears needed a goalie and Magarian’s skills as a soccer goalie made her a good fit. She took on the job and manned the net for the Bears en route to their 2013 state championship.
But even a state title couldn’t have prepared Magarian for the chance to spend 11 days in Israel and Poland in December, having been selected to play for Israel’s newly formed women’s lacrosse Under-19 national team.
“I was shocked when they called,” Magarian said. “At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I said yes immediately.”
Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Magarian about the trip and how it became about much more than just sports.
Q: Explain how you went from being a soccer player with a lacrosse sideline to the other way around.
A: I’d been doing soccer for a long time. I focused on that. I just started to do lacrosse for fun. But I picked it up pretty easily because of soccer and ended up getting to be the starter. It became a passion of mine. I started playing club lacrosse for Minnesota Elite.
Q: How did the club lacrosse connection help?
A: Two of the prominent leaders of Minnesota Elite are parents of girls at Blake. Israel was trying to start a national lacrosse team, so they contacted the big clubs around the U.S. looking for players of Jewish descent. Linda Christian of Minnesota Elite e-mailed me about the opportunity. I thought “Wow, it would be incredible,” but I never thought it would actually happen.
Q: How did it happen?
A: There was a process involved where you had to send in an athletic résumé, give your school info and your records and they analyzed it.
Q: When were you informed that you were wanted?
A: It was about two months before we left. They called my mom and said I was on the team if I wanted to make the commitment. I felt really, really lucky. Israel was somewhere I always wanted to go, and I got the chance to do something I was passionate about. It was an insane opportunity.
Q: What was the trip like?
A: Our main thing was to spread lacrosse in Israel. It’s not a well-known sport there. We had about four games mapped out, but we spent a lot of time going to schools and talking with kids from kindergarten to our age. We taught lacrosse and gave clinics.
Q: Your lasting memory?
A: We went to the Gaza Strip and I connected with one girl who was my age. Her dream in life was to come to the U.S. and find her dad. Lacrosse might help her do that.
Q: That had to be a pretty eye-opening moment.
A: It was. Before I got there, I was just thinking that lacrosse was my primary reason for going. After I talked to her and heard how difficult her life is and that her dreams are something I live day-to-day, it showed my that I wasn’t just there for lacrosse. It was bigger than that.
Q: Will you be playing lacrosse for Israel in the future?
A: There will be some opportunities coming over the next two years. I don’t know how they’re going to choose the players. It would be incredible if I got to play with the national team.