With heavy hearts, and without a playbook for how to deal with a uniquely heartbreaking situation, the Colorado women's lacrosse team attempted to get back to work Tuesday.
Ten days after senior teammate Julia Sarcona was killed in a one-car accident on Boulder Canyon Road, the Buffaloes held their first official practice for the 2018 season Tuesday at Kittredge Field. Their rivals around the country as well as in the new Pac-12 women's lacrosse conference began official workouts on Saturday, but the Buffaloes traveled to Philadelphia over the weekend to attend Sarcona's funeral services.
"We feel appreciative of the help and support we needed to get the team to Philadelphia where they felt we needed to be with Julia's family. That was the first part of our process and this week is the second step of our process," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "Our players continue to have high goals and I think they want to be out here where they love to be, and where they're comfortable, and to honor Julia in that way and get to work for her and our season."
Elliott reported the turnout of the CU contingent in Philadelphia was overwhelming, with most of the lacrosse alumni from over the past five years and their families making the emotional journey.
"There's no comfort in a situation like this, but when you're able to go back and spend time with people who loved Julia, with her family, be with her parents ... I think we had over a hundred people there just from our Colorado lacrosse family," Elliott said. "There was some comfort in us being together. We definitely had so much support. I think just them being able to communicate and share those memories and be together, and be together with Julia's friends from home, was really special."
Now the Buffs, who should expect a preseason ranking after reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program's five-year history, will tackle the difficult challenge of getting refocused on the Feb. 9 season opener against Michigan in Jacksonville, Fla. Monday proved to be a difficult day as CU's players endured their first true day of the routine of classes. The players returned to campus last week when the spring semester began, but the Buffs left on Thursday for Philadelphia.
"It's hard to know the effect something like this will have on you and what that turns into in terms of an outcome for our team," Elliott said. "For us, we always preach one day at a time, one thing at a time, and that's never been more true than right now. I think that is our approach, just trying to get out here and practice and see what we can do. And hope that us being out here together brings our players some comfort and also hopefully an outlet for everything they're going through."