Riley Little first began playing lacrosse her eighth grade year, and she stuck with it from that point on.
“My friends and I decided we should all play a sport together,” she said. "It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Little was part of the relatively young Powhatan girls lacrosse program earning its winningest season to date (9-6) and achieving its first-ever regional playoff win (10-9 over Midlothian) in 2019.
Little, a senior, went into the 2020 season as one of the players expected to anchor Powhatan in the midfield, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of Virginia schools and the subsequent cancellation of the 2019 Virginia High School League spring sports season.
Little talked about how she fell in love with the game, how important hard work and practice have been to her progress and how the pandemic and cancellation of the season affected her.
Powhatan Today: What made you fall in love with the game?
Little: I fell in love with lacrosse because it’s not a sport that comes naturally. It takes hard work and dedication to truly understand and master the sport.
I love the feeling of earning positive results after putting hard work into something you love. When I first started playing lacrosse I was not good. But after a lot of practice, I was so proud of myself for the progress I had made over the years.
PT: What do you feel you have brought to the field and to the team that helped you stand out and/or contribute?
Little: I think I have brought consistency to the team. I take lacrosse very seriously and I would never skip a day of practice. My motivation for playing lacrosse has never failed me and I always look forward to being able to play the sport.
PT: What was it like playing with your team or teams in that sport? What were your teammates and coaches like?
Little: Words couldn’t describe how fun it is to play with my team. I’ve known my teammates for as long as I can remember and being able to play a sport I love with them is a dream come true.
Coach [Laura] Camp is the best coach I’ve ever had. She has always been there for our whole team and has kept us motivated through it all. I wouldn’t be the lacrosse player I am today without coach Camp.
PT: How tough was it for you to find out there would be no spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Little: I was devastated when I found out I wouldn’t be able to play lacrosse anymore. I had never been more excited to start a lacrosse season than I was this year. Knowing that I’ll never be able to play another game in a Powhatan uniform is heartbreaking. It happened very suddenly as well and nobody really had a chance to say goodbye.
PT: What will you look to do either with sports or in general, and has losing the spring season affected your thoughts on what the future might hold for you athletically and/or academically?
Little: I definitely want to at least play club lacrosse in college. The sport means too much to me to give it all up. Losing the spring season has actually made me really upset and I’m learning to find motivation again. This pandemic has really taken a toll on me as it continues to take things away from all of us, especially the seniors.
We didn’t only lose the spring season, we lost the most important three months of our senior year. We have been going to school for 12 years and these last three months are what seniors look forward to the most. It’s unfortunate because we are expected to stay positive and motivated but it’s also really hard to keep it together when everything around you is falling apart.
PT: What are your two or three favorite memories from games, practices and/or hanging out with your teammates?
Little: One of my favorite memories was getting dollar tacos at El Cerro after practice. Even though we see each other everyday at practice, we still hang out after practice as well and never get tired of seeing each other.
I also love the feeling after we win games. We all storm the field and get into a huddle jumping up and down. The adrenaline and excitement is unmatched.
PT: Are there life lessons or takeaways that go beyond the field that the game helped you to see or realize?
Little: Lacrosse has allowed me to form so many friendships and deep connections with people. It has also allowed me to realize that I’m capable of more than I allow myself to imagine.
When I first started playing lacrosse in eighth grade, I would go to the varsity games and see how amazing the players were. I thought I’d never be as good as them.
Playing lacrosse has made me realize that the more effort you put in, the better the results you will receive. Today, I am the lacrosse player I wanted to be when I was in eighth grade and I couldn’t be more proud of myself for that.