Almost every day during stick work in college, we’d have “Partner Passing” – all 26+ of us would stand in two lines across from our partners. We’d be given a combination of various passes and stick tricks to repeat until one of the partners dropped the ball; which then eliminated both you and your partner. 90% of the time, Mackenzie and I would be the last two standing. Not necessarily because we had the best sticks on the team, but because of the unexplainable connection the two of us had. Often, Missy would joke and ask “what, do you two do this in your free time?” The funny thing is - we would - 10 years prior. Mackenzie and I always found ourselves in our backyard playing around with our sticks. And Mackenzie would somehow convince me to go in goal, with a fiddle goalie stick as my only line of defense, as she attempted to peg tennis balls in the corners of the cage – let’s just say I didn’t walk away completely unscathed. At the time, it was all fun and games; little did we know, these moments would be what prepared us for our days to come at Penn State.
Growing up, sports were always something that connected Mackenzie and me. Whether it be passing the soccer ball around in the house, shooting “PIG” at the local basketball court, or playing roller hockey with our neighborhood friends; we consistently found ourselves being active. When it came to recreationally, our athletic careers began with soccer. After a few years of playing In-House, we moved on to Travel soccer where the teams were much more competitive and the sport required a higher level of commitment. Seeing as we enjoyed the sport as much as we did, there was not a second thought given. The switch to travel soccer was an adjustment; your teammates are more athletic, your coaches are more constructive, and more is expected of you as a player. One thing we soon realized is soccer was not the only sport our teammates were playing – to be a versatile athlete, it’s imperative you play more than one sport. We noticed they were playing sports like basketball, softball, field hockey, tennis, and one that really sparked our interest – lacrosse.
When I learned that my mom had signed Mackenzie up to play lacrosse, there I was, questioning when sign-ups were for me. Although we would be playing in different age groups, I knew I wanted to be a part of whatever she was doing.
From the time I can remember, I have been known as “Mackenzie’s Little Sister” – not because Mackenzie had this known presence about her, or because of the success she had had, but because I truly embodied the name. I wanted to be Mackenzie’s little sister - everything she did, I did; everything she had, I had to have too.
Leading into high-school, the title of “Mackenzie’s Little Sister” shifted. It went from me being considered her shadow – blissfully following her every move – to setting a bar extremely high for myself – academically, socially, and athletically. Mackenzie was a 4-year letterman in all three of the sports she played. She had made a name for herself – and now, it was time for me to do the same.
Through our years together at Winters Mill, I watched Mackenzie lead our team by example. She was a great teammate and wasn’t afraid to give praise where praise was due. If you did something well, Mackenzie would let you know – loud and proud. Not only was she a great cheerleader, she was a great teacher as well – providing instruction on areas to improve and ways to improve them. She was always pushing me to become a better player. When the time came for her to graduate – I was ready to take the field and prove myself as “Madison Cyr”.
Around the time Mackenzie went off to college was the time I needed to start considering my future. What college did I want to go to? Where did I see myself going? Was I going to play lacrosse? There were a lot of overwhelming questions – especially for a 15-year-old to answer. Thankfully, I, once again, had Mackenzie to look up to for advice. Throughout the process, I told myself I didn’t want to go to Penn State. I had finally created an identity for myself and thought I wanted to pave my own way. After a handful of college visits, I finally gave in to Mackenzie’s pleads and visited Penn State. As soon as I arrived I knew – everything felt right, and I was home.
I soon reclaimed the title “Mackenzie’s Little Sister” my freshman year at Penn State. Again, truly embracing the name and using it as motivation. I soon realized that although I had a sister on the team, I was going to be treated as an individual player. I was going to have the chance to carve my own way, while having my sister right by my side. Having sisters on the same team wasn’t something that was new for Penn State. At one point in time, we had four sets – our team was literally and figuratively a family. While many people assume ‘sibling-rivalry’ cripples the success of a team, we took advantage of it. No one knows you better than your sister, and we made sure to capitalize on that. Sisters are a force to be reckoned with.
As our time together at Penn State came to a close, I had an overwhelming sense of sadness, once again. Realizing I wouldn’t have my sister, my best friend, my confidant on the field with me the following year was a hard pill to swallow. Although she was not physically on the field with me, she was still there when I needed her - only a phone call away when I wanted to “lax chat”. Throughout the next two years, I was fortunate enough to have several accomplishments in my time at Penn State – and while winning Big Tens, going to the Final Four, and being named an All-American were moments to remember, the one I will cherish most is finding out Mackenzie and I both finished our collegiate careers with 202 points. In that moment, our journey with the game came full circle – starting and ending a chapter together – a connection unlike any other.