BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh women’s lacrosse players are much more than just athletes. They are truly student-athletes who take advantage of the opportunities Lehigh presents, in the classroom, on the playing field and in all areas.
Lehighsports.com is highlighting three individuals and their experiences from this past summer. These are just three examples of how the Mountain Hawks utilize the summer to get better on the field and further prepare for their future careers in the professional world.
Current sophomore Kris Abens utilized her summer in various ways, highlighted by a week-long service trip to New Orleans as part of SALSC (Student-Athletes Leading Social Change). She joined seven other Lehigh student-athletes, along with others from schools like Illinois and Michigan, to help aid in the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort that the community continues to face eight years later.
“For reasons that remain a mystery to me, I thought the people of New Orleans would be scary,” said Abens. “I thought that they would be bitter from the tragedy they endured… reserved… a kind of walking dead. But now I see all of these people are so vibrantly full of life. They aren’t scary, they’re scared. Scared of what the future may hold for themselves and their children. They’re not bitter, but rather full of hope. I can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. They’re seemingly grateful for life in ways that most people will never understand.”
In addition to the service trip, Abens also successfully completed a 340-mile river race in 67 hours. The race is called the Missouri American Water MR340.
“I did it with my best friend (Anne) from home, who goes to school down in Tulane in New Orleans,” said Abens. “She heard it from her friend down there who did it last year with her family.
“Her family was our ground crew,” Abens continued. “Everybody needs a ground crew to buy you food and anything else you need. They needed another person to do it with them and Anne knew I’m athletic and like being outdoors.”
The trio took shifts napping, with two continuing to paddle while the other attempted to get some sleep.
“One person would take a 30-minute nap while the other two paddled then we would switch. That was basically how we would get our sleep for most of the time,” said Abens. “It ended up being four hours of sleep for each person over the 67 hours.”
In total, there are nine checkpoints in the race approximately every 50 miles apart. There’s a boat called the reaper that all boats must be in front to avoid being disqualified.
“You have to finish in 88 hours or under so this boat (a motorboat) goes at that pace,” said Abens. “You have to be ahead of the reaper. That was our goal the entire time.
What Abens experienced in the race rivals a lacrosse game in many ways.
“It’s extremely similar. Fighting exhaustion of that caliber, it’s not a walk in the park,” she said. “We were so sleep deprived. Afterwards, we would talk to people who said they were seeing things out there that weren’t there.
“We gave it everything we had that last stretch,” she continued. “We went faster during that stretch than we did throughout the entire race. Four hours of straight adrenaline, it was incredible. We were passing kayaks; it was very exciting.”
Chelsea Retaleato enjoyed an extremely busy summer, coaching tournaments and practices for Top Guns club lacrosse before studying abroad in Paris, France then interning with Atlantic Investment Management in New York City… all while preparing for the lacrosse season ahead.
Retaleato had these thoughts on her experienced abroad: “I’m a Global Studies major and an Anthropology/Sociology minor so it’s required for graduation that I study abroad. Being a student-athlete I chose to go over the summer so I wouldn’t miss any time getting ready for the season with my team. I met with the professor leading the program (John Savage) and Paris just seemed like the right fit. I got the opportunity to walk around the city each day, seeing and learning amazing things about the art, architecture and history of the city. It’s a really great program and it was a great way to experience the city.”
The experience interning in the city was extremely beneficial as well.
“The internship opportunity came about in the summer of 2012 through a colleague of my mother,” said Retaleato. “I was able to get an interview and started working for them doing administrative type work like filing, phones etc. They presented me with the opportunity to work for them again this past summer. It was really nice to get a feel of the finance industry, especially as a Global Studies major. I do a lot of reading in classes about different economies worldwide so to get the opportunity to see how much research goes into investing and trading was really cool from my perspective.”
Junior Scarlett Nawrocki began her summer by studying and interning abroad through Lehigh. An Accounting major, she got to experience studying overseas while interning with a company in her career field.
“For the first month of my summer, I studied abroad in Prague (in the Czech Republic),” said Nawrocki. “While there, I had an amazing opportunity to intern with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and work in their real estate audit department. I worked on various projects that helped me expand my knowledge of an audit and what details are needed in order to make that successful. What was really cool was towards the end of my internship, I got to work on a real audit for a piece of real estate in the city of Prague.
“Studying abroad gave me such a new outlook on life and a new perspective of how different cultures handle business transactions,” she continued. “I also had the opportunities on the weekends to travel around Europe. I wound up meeting up with my sister who was also studying abroad, and we went to London and Paris. It was an amazing time that I will cherish for my entire life.”
A standout in the classroom, Nawrocki was rewarded by being selected to attend National Leadership Accounting programs with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Ernst and Young.
“These programs that took place in Chicago and Baltimore gave me the opportunity to expand and really focus on my strengths and weaknesses as a leader in the accounting world,” she said. “These programs not only helped me for my future career in accounting, but I also took away concepts that could be used to help our team for this lacrosse season.”