#GearForAYear Update: Behind the Mask of Avery Gawronski

At the beginning of the year, we ran the #GearForAYear Scholarship Program and picked six deserving winners to receive $500 worth of gear. From time to time, we catch up with our winners and want to share what they are up to. Here is a story from 13-year-old Avery Gawronski from Mullica Hill, NJ!

At the beginning of July, my club team traveled to Hershey, Pennsylvania to attend the Lax Amplified tournament. Over the weekend, we shared jokes, got closer to each other, and emerged victorious for the second year in a row.

On the first day of play, we finished 3-0. As a goalie, I keep all my stats and I ended the day with 57% saved, which is a little lower than I would have liked it to be. Our second day of play started with another win; afterward, I was told that I would be playing in the championship game and that our other goalie would be playing the semi-final game. Luckily, we came back and scored in the last couple seconds of the game, so we advanced to the championship.

Soon after, we were informed that we would be playing VA Metro 2022, who beat the team that we played in the semi-final game 15-6. Some of my teammates became worried that we would get crushed, but most of us kept our cool. The first draw of the game was controlled by VA Metro with ease. They ran right down and scored on me. I started to get in my own head, but I quickly shook it off. For the rest of the game, my teammates and I held our ground. At the buzzer, the game was tied and since we were going into sudden death overtime, we either needed possession, a turnover, or I needed to save a shot.

As I ran onto the field, I prayed that we would win the draw. From the cage, I waited for the ref to blow her whistle. The draw was scrappy, but unfortunately, VA Metro came up with it. I centered myself in the cage just as the girl with the ball sprinted down the field to shoot. She drew a shooting position foul, and, although I would normally prefer a shooting position foul than any other type of shot, my heart dropped when the referee called it. I glanced to my side to see a girl just on the crease. I knew that the best thing for her to do is pass to that girl. I stepped out a bit, so I would be right on top her. The girl decided to fake before she passed to the girl on the crease, drawing another foul.

I started to get a little worried. My body was getting tense, but my mind was focused and ready. The girl lined up for her second shot and drew yet another foul. My stomach did somersaults knowing that this girl was going to have a third chance to score on me. I got into my stance, remembering everything I was taught, and kept my eyes on the ball. The girl shot way high, giving me just a moment of relief. It felt good knowing that the free position shots would be over. This feeling only lasted for a mere two seconds before the ref called the 4th shooting space foul.

The ball was passed back to the girl, who was again fouled, and she lined up on the eight meter. The pressure had been building over the course of all the fouls. I stared into her eyes, looking for any type of clue as to where she was going to shoot. She locked her gaze on mine, as though she was challenging me. I couldn’t let her score. We had come so far, and we all wanted to win so bad. I shifted my eyes from hers to the ball. I was focused and ready. There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t save this shot. The whistle was blown and the girl ran in and shot.

The shot was stick-side hip. I stepped toward the ball, making sure my body was behind it. The ball traveled into my stick, and I controlled the rebound. I swiftly scanned the field looking for an open teammate and found one wide open just near the subbing box. I passed the ball to her and she ran it down the field. She passed the ball to another teammate, who was challenged; this teammate then had a chance to win the game with a shooting space foul.

I was standing on the other side of the field with my hands over my head. My heart was pounding. My teammate confidently went in for the shot, faked, and buried it in the back of the net. I screamed, threw my helmet, gloves, and stick down, and sprinted to the other side of the field.

All of my teammates ran on to the field from the sideline and we all tackled each other. In that moment, I was the happiest I had ever been. I was playing the game I love with the best teammates I could ask for, and we had worked our butts off to get where we were. All my day-to-day worries had vanished, and life couldn’t have gotten any better.*

Look for more updates from our #GearForAYear winners in the coming months!