Overcoming Adversity

By Ellie Masera

Life will always inevitably throw challenges our way.

It’s as if we are constantly being tested, pushed to our limits, and compelled to overcome the obstacles in our path.

However, it is precisely these challenges that shape us into who we are.

They make us stronger, more resilient, and impart valuable lessons about ourselves and the world around us.

I have faced my fair share of challenges in life, and one thing is certain – I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

The Lacrosse journey

Lacrosse has been in my blood from the moment I was born.

My mom hailed from a lacrosse family, with four uncles who all played the sport.

Even my dad, a hockey enthusiast at heart, ended up coaching our lacrosse teams.

It was inevitable that I would find myself on the lacrosse field one day.

Although I played other sports growing up, lacrosse was the one that captured my heart.

I fell in love with the game, the people, and the sense of belonging to a team.

When it came time to choose a college, I knew I wanted to continue my lacrosse journey.

That’s when I discovered Stony Brook University.

It was the perfect fit for me – close to home, a top-10 program, and a strong emphasis on both academics and athletics.

Equally important was the assurance that I could find a second family at Stony Brook.

The decision was straightforward, and I committed to Stony Brook, eagerly anticipating the next chapter in my lacrosse career.

Overcoming COVID

Little did I know that my freshman year would be unlike any other.

It was the year of COVID-19, and everything was turned upside down.

Lockdowns were in effect, practices were canceled, and uncertainty loomed over us all.

Navigating a new team and environment as a freshman during such a challenging time was tough.

The usual bonding activities at the start of the year and season were absent, and dorm life had restrictions.

Despite the mental challenges, the experience provided valuable learning opportunities.

During the off-season, I trained rigorously with my coach at home, returning with newfound confidence, thanks to the unwavering support of my coaches and teammates.

Life will always inevitably throw challenges our way. It's as if we are constantly being tested, pushed to our limits, and compelled to overcome the obstacles in our path. However, it is precisely these challenges that shape us into who we are. They make us stronger, more resilient, and impart valuable lessons about ourselves and the world around us. I have faced my fair share of challenges in life, and one thing is certain – I wouldn't be where I am today without them.

The darkest time of my life

Just as things started to settle down, life decided to throw a few more curveballs my way.

My uncle, whom I considered a second dad, was diagnosed with cancer.

We clung to hope, supporting each other through the tough times.

I tried to be there for my cousins, who I consider as close as siblings, and my teammates did the same for me.

We even created shirts to show our support, and everyone was incredibly understanding of the difficult time I was going through.

Amid my Uncle Scott’s battle, I received the news of my great-uncle’s passing, a figure I regarded as a grandfather.

It was right before a game, and I played through it, knowing I had to be with my family afterward.

It was the week of Easter, and his funeral was on the following Monday.

More tragedy

And then, just when we thought we couldn’t take any more, tragedy struck again.

On Easter Sunday, our house caught fire.

It was a surreal and terrifying experience, witnessing everything we owned consumed by flames.

The loss was devastating, but we were thankful for our safety.

Amidst the ashes, I managed to salvage my lacrosse stick, taking it with me to play in our next game on that Tuesday — against my sister, Emily, who played for Binghamton.

About a week later, during the viewing party to determine our opponents in the NCAA Tournament, my coach asked me to leave to be with my dad.

I didn’t quite understand right away, but once I got into his car, my dad delivered the heartbreaking news that Uncle Scott had passed away.

It’s tough to describe that period of time in my life.

No doubt, it was the darkest one of my life to-date.

Finding strength

In the face of immense adversity, I found solace in the love and support of my teammates and friends.

They were there for me, lifting me up when I felt like I couldn’t go on.

Whether celebrating small victories on the field or providing a shoulder to lean on during the most challenging moments, they reminded me that I was not alone.

I also want to express gratitude to my family – my parents, my siblings, and everyone else – who have been my steadfast supporters and shaped me into the person and athlete I am today.

Life can be tough, there’s no denying that.

But it’s in those moments of hardship that we have the opportunity to grow, to become stronger, and to inspire others with our resilience.

I have faced unimaginable challenges, but I have also experienced immeasurable love and support.

Through it all, I have learned that no matter how difficult life gets, there is always a way to overcome it.

So, my message to anyone facing their battles is to not be afraid to lean on others, to ask for help, and to accept the love and support that surrounds you.

You are not alone, and together, we can conquer anything that comes our way.

Let’s embrace the challenges, knowing that they will shape us into the incredible individuals we are meant to be.

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