Franklin’s MacCallum Eyes State Title in Lacrosse

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Senior Grace MacCallum believes Franklin’s lacrosse team has what it takes to go all the way this year, and she’ll give it her all to make that happen.
Issue Date: 
April, 2018
Article Body: 

Grace MacCallum has some unfinished business to attend to before she heads for Fairfield University where she’ll be a scholarship athlete on the women’s lacrosse team.
The 5-foot-5 Franklin senior, who excels on defense, wants the Panthers to win a state championship and make up for last year’s near-miss when they bowed out in the state semifinals. Franklin captured the Division 1 Sectional title against Concord-Carlisle. but Longmeadow prevented the Panthers from advancing to the state title game when it downed Franklin, 12-6.
A Hockomock League and Eastern Massachusetts all-star last year, MacCallum firmly believes that Franklin has all the ingredients to go the distance this spring.
“My objective is to win the whole thing,’’ MacCallum emphasized. “It’s a realistic goal, because even though we lost four seniors, many of our players gained valuable experience last year. We’re still a young team, but we’ve got a talented group of players returning.’’
Having a top-notch defender like MacCallum for another year is a valuable asset, and coach Kristen Igoe knows it. “Grace is a good decision-maker who has great field awareness,’’ Igoe said. “She’s smart, has excellent instincts, is athletic and passes effectively. She’s adept at forcing turnovers, and her lacrosse IQ is very high.’’
The results MacCallum gets in the classroom are also high. She’s a member of the National Honor Society, and she’s also been selected to the Spanish and Science Honor Societies. Her academic standing and her ability in lacrosse enabled her to get a scholarship to Fairfield, where she plans on majoring in bio-chemistry.
“I liked the campus, the atmosphere and the size of the school,’’ MacCallum said. “Playing Division 1 college lacrosse will be a big transition. “The speed of the game will be much faster, and I’ll be facing all-star opponents constantly. There’s no doubt I’ll need to improve my footwork and quickness.’’
MacCallum, however, has a plethora of strengths that enhance her aggressive and cerebral style of play. “I rely on being a communicator,’’ she noted. “I also try to anticipate where the ball is going. I’m not afraid to take risks, because I know I’ve got teammates who can cover for me. Quick reactions, good decision-making and clearing effectively are areas where I strive to be sharp. Where I can improve is in re-defending. That’s making sure my opponent is defended when we transition from offense to defense.’’
MacCallum’s team goal is to win the state title, but she’s got a few on a personal level. Becoming an all-star again no doubt is an objective, but she’d prefer to improve her draw controls and grow as a leader. Her statistics last year included 42 draw controls, 42 ground balls won and 26 caused turnovers.
“I want to improve on draws and be a solid leader,’’ MacCallum emphasized. “Leadership leads to my teammates trusting me, and it also helps to foster team chemistry.’’
MacCallum’s game against Concord-Carlisle as a sophomore went a long way in building trust. Trailing to a powerful foe, the Panthers rallied when MacCallum won four straight draw controls (six for the game). “We were able to gain momentum, turn the game around and win it, 13-6,’’ she recalled. “As a young player, I felt I had earned my spot on the team and proved that I belonged.’’
She definitely “belonged’’ when she helped the Panthers defeat powerhouse Westwood, 8-7, last year in a match she rates as a major thrill. “That was the first time we’ve beaten them,’’ MacCallum said. “There was lots of anticipation for that match.’’
MacCallum firmly believes that Franklin will be strong in the playoff mix because of players like her sister, Kelsey, and Annie and Erin Walsh. Kelsey is a midfielder/attack, Annie is a midfielder, and Erin plays midfield and attack. All three are underclassmen.
“Kelsey scored 32 goals as a freshman last year,’’ MacCallum noted. “She’s unsung and often overlooked, but she’s strong on offense. Annie scored 79 goals as a sophomore last year. She’s relentless and has great endurance. Erin has good moves, is crafty and scored 56 goals last year.’’
MacCallum also admires her coach’s style. “Coach Igoe is a great motivator who’s supportive and fosters a winning attitude,’’ she said. “All her players know their roles, and she’s all about preparation.’’
Relying on a philosophy that winning builds confidence and helps one “to play with some swagger,’’ MacCallum also regards having fun and striving to reaching one’s potential as key elements in competing.
She’s also learned valuable life lessons in athletics. “Sports help you to learn patience, time management, intensity and overcoming adversity,’’ MacCallum said. “You learn to be patient when you’re a freshman, and you learn that an intense style gets results. When I ran cross-country, I developed a hip flexor, but I worked to overcome that difficulty.’’
Calling her parents (Todd and Heather) role models for their support, encouragement and help as youth coaches, MacCallum knows what it takes to excel on defense. “It’s important to have your feet set and have your stick in the passing lanes to create turnovers,’’ she noted. “On defense, you have to be a dictator. I want to dictate what I want the attacker to do. And, if I do that well, then I’m in control.’’