In a day and age of pressure and expectations, Michelle Abramczyk didn’t take a typical route to college lacrosse.
“It seems like now, you’re born with a lacrosse stick in your hand and with a lot of pressure,” said Abramczyk. “My parents never really pressured me.”
Seemed destined to play sports from a young age, Abramczyk’s route to Lehigh was far from usual.
“When I was young, I was always competitive and loved playing sports,” she said. “I would start games of kickball, lacrosse and manhunt with my neighbors growing up. You could always find me outside doing something active. My mom pushed and motivated me to pursue lacrosse on my own instead of having someone else do it for me.”
Despite being pushed by many to play club lacrosse, Abramczyk thought otherwise.
“During the summers, I would work at day camps and babysit,” she said. “My mom believed I should do my sports during the year then take a break and make money in the summer.”
Michelle decided to use summer camps and clinics as an opportunity to showcase her talents. A friend asked her to come to a Lehigh Lacrosse 7v7 clinic, which opened Michelle’s eyes to Lehigh University.
“I went with her to the 7v7 clinic and afterwards, I emailed the coaches a thank you note for having me,” said Abramczyk. “They said they we were really impressed by how I played and wanted to continue talking to me and see how I was doing in the recruitment process. That’s when I really thought I could do this.
“I started going to more camps; I went to UPenn, Holy Cross and a bunch of different camps as a different approach to getting recruited instead of club lacrosse,” she continued.
“Michelle not only played high school sports, but she also held a job at the same time,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. “We thought this was a great indicator of her work ethic and character. We had no concerns that Michelle didn’t play club lacrosse.”
Lehigh was sold on Michelle and Michelle quickly became sold on Lehigh.
“I felt like I connected right away with the girls on the team,” she said. “I think that’s a huge part of getting recruited, to make sure you feel that connection with your teammates. You’re going to be with them the rest of your college career and you want to have that tight relationship with them because you’ll end up being a family.”
That Lehigh family has been a perfect environment for Abramczyk as she’s excelled, on and off the field. Starting as a freshman, Abramczyk has been a mainstay on the Mountain Hawks’ defense. She started all 16 games as a freshman, tallying nine groundballs and three caused turnovers. Abramczyk has continued to improve every season, currently owning 24 groundballs and eight caused turnovers in her senior campaign to reach 64 groundballs and 27 caused turnovers in her career.
“Michelle has improved as an individual defender and as a team defender all four years,” said Redfern. “She executes her role really well each game.”
At the core of Abramczyk’s success is her personal motivation to succeed. It was evident in her recruitment and has been clear in all aspects of her life. Michelle attributes that mindset to her grounded upbringing.
“My parents always taught me well,” said Abramczyk. “They would make me work for whatever I did. I would have to babysit on the weekends and put half of the money in the bank. I think that helped me learn a valuable lesson that I’m not just going to get something or go somewhere without doing it on my own.”
Personal motivation has spilled over into the classroom as well. As a finance major, Abramczyk owns a 3.15 cumulative GPA and has compiled some impressive internship experience with Broadridge Financial Solutions, which has led to a job after graduation.
Abramczyk interned for Broadridge the last two summers, beginning the summer between her sophomore and junior years.
“First, I was in the Credit and Collections department,” she said. “I helped update their fiscal year cash forecasting model, along with assisting the credit administrations team by supporting Oracle processing of small dollar write-offs. I also reviewed their current refund process and manually identified refunds.”
Abramczyk interned in a different area of Broadridge last summer and was accepted to the company’s Management Training Program after she graduates, a rotational program where she’ll experience several different areas of the company (beyond simply finance).
“This past summer featured more projects and experience working with the global Broadridge team in India,” she said. “The rotational program will be a good fit because I’ll get a bigger picture of the company as a whole. So when I am placed after the program, I’ll have resources and people that I met in various departments that can help me along the way.”
Ultimately, Michelle will be placed into Broadridge’s Finance department.
“You get to work in a team environment and meet people in all areas of the company with different backgrounds and you find ways to improve the management and processes of each department,” she said.
Abramczyk’s personal motivation has led to success, not only now, but undoubtedly into her post-graduate career as well.
“Personal motivation has gotten me further today with my academics because I’m not being pushed by an external source,” she said. “It all comes from within, which helped me secure my post-graduate opportunity with Broadridge. I’m really excited about the opportunity and what my future holds.”
Abramczyk’s mindset comes in handy during hardships and tough times, both on and off the field. When it’s easy to quit, she doesn’t give up due to her motivation to succeed.
“If things aren’t working out at the present moment, I know that if I continue to keep trying, it will work out,” said Abramczyk. “Staying positive is also important. Things won’t always go your way and you may not always be happy with the outcomes, but if you stay positive on the field, it’s huge, and if you stay positive in the classroom, you’re going to improve.”
“Michelle is extremely hard working and her competitive spirit drives her teammates to push themselves in practice and games,” said senior and fellow defender Kelly Scott. “I can always rely on Michelle to come to practice with a smile and positive vibes; it is very contagious. She knows exactly how to help teammates when they’re struggling and is able to find the positive in any situation.”
Abramczyk’s attitude and mentality is infectious to others.
“The team would crumble without Michelle bringing everyone together,” said Scott. “She is very relatable and has a strong relationship with everyone on our team. Michelle always places her teammates first and is the most genuine and selfless person I know.”
In the end, Michelle’s personal motivation helps lead to collective team success. If everyone is personally motivated, teams have less to worry about and can focus their time on smaller details that help lead to wins.
“Michelle is the quintessential teammate,” said Julie Ammary, who runs Lehigh’s Leadership Education program. “She understands the real value of leadership by embracing the ‘first follower’ role and acts with an exemplary team-first approach. By supporting the standards of the team verbally and in action, and by refocusing teammates when necessary, Michelle has served as the glue that fosters team chemistry. I am most impressed by Michelle’s consistency and intrinsic motivation to be her best self, for the good of her team.”
Speaking of team, one of Michelle’s biggest takeaways from her Lehigh experience (both on and off the field) has been teamwork.
“Especially being in the business school, I see the skills learned from working together carry over to lacrosse because you’re always working on team projects, you always have deadlines and you need to communicate with everyone,” she said. “I think communication has been one of the most important skills that I’ve learned: communication between teammates, coaches, professors and classmates. It has definitely prepared me for the real world and has gotten me ready for life after Lehigh.”
For now, Abramczyk is focused on ending her Lehigh career on a strong note in all areas. Michelle is a unifier for those around her and that’s how she wants to be remembered, for not only her personal motivation but also how she brings people together.
“We call Michelle our glue girl,” said Redfern. “She binds people together, which is a critical role for any high-achieving team.”
The Patriot League Tournament opens up on Tuesday at Boston University.
“Win or lose, you win together and you lose together,” said Abramczyk. “The relationships that you make at Lehigh can carry on throughout your life.”