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Game Changer: Charlotte North

Charlotte North in a team huddle

Entering her third season of professional lacrosse with Athletes Unlimited (AU) Pro Lax after being selected as the first overall pick in the 2022, Charlotte North has cemented herself as one of the most electrifying talents in sports. Throughout her career she has showcased her exceptional talent, and her unwavering dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in lacrosse. North is a two-time Tewaaraton award winner, collegiate national champion, and currently is the all-time NCAA leader in goals (358) and fourth all-time leader in points (433).


Off the field, North continues to inspire as a role model for aspiring athletes, using her platform to advocate for inclusivity, empowerment, and the continued growth of women's sports. 


Staff writer Anna Intartaglia sat down with Charlotte North to discuss her lacrosse career, her blooming career as a lacrosse analyst for ESPN, the growth of the game, the importance of self belief and individuality in sports, and more. 


Why did you start playing lacrosse? What drew you to the sport?


I started playing lacrosse in 7th grade. Up until that point, I had played pretty much every sport besides lacrosse, like basketball, softball, field hockey, track, soccer, you name it, because I loved sports.


I am from Dallas, Texas and lacrosse was not very big in the southern/midwest region.. I had some amazing friends and peers who had played for the middle school team. Since I was not playing a spring sport that spring season, my friend lent me her stick and encouraged me to try out. From then on I absolutely loved everything about lacrosse, how fast and exciting it was, and how fun it was to watch both collegiately and professionally. 


I had some great coaches who came down to Dallas to take over our high school and club programs, which is when I started to get more serious about lacrosse. I loved it so much and never wanted to put my stick down, although I was terrible at it at the start, I had some great mentors and coaches who helped me along the way. 


Charlotte signing fan autographs

Are there any players that influenced your game as you were growing up in the sport?


My two coaches, Maggie Koch and Molly Ford, who took over my high school and club teams were both All-Americans and coached collegiately, they were as experienced as it gets. They shared their love and knowledge of the game with me, and I would just pick their brain as much as I could. They helped me grow as a player, but also fueled my passion for the sport and my excitement to learn.


From my relationship with them, they allowed me to develop my idols of the game. We used to watch college games, youtube highlight videos, whatever I could get my hands on of the players that I looked up to. Two of them were Kayla Treanor and Michele Tumulo who played at Syracuse. Kayla Treanor was one of my coaches at Boston College and I ended up playing with her on team USA at the World Cup in 2022. She was, in my opinion, the best to ever play. She redefined what it means to be a women’s lacrosse player, what she could do with her stick was so inspiring. Same thing with Michele. Both of them really left a mark on the sport as players and are both doing the same now as coaches. I watched every Syracuse game I could and went into the backyard to try and emulate what they were doing, and they really inspired me to keep working and be better. 


Charlotte shooting in lacrosse

How was the transition from college to professional lacrosse? Or even from high school to college? Did you encounter any unforeseen challenges?


The transition was very difficult. One of the hardest things is when you lack confidence and you feel like you aren’t at the same speed as the girls around you, it can be hard to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. You are more worried about yourself and not being prepared enough or whatever it may be, and are lacking positive self-talk. My high school coaches did an amazing job of teaching me the importance of positive self talk, and they often would have to fuel me up with confidence to allow myself to develop that skill.


Sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it, tell yourself that you’ve done the work to get there and you are right where you are supposed to be. That helped me enter into the college lacrosse landscape in a really intimidating world where I never thought I would even end up. That self confidence and belief in the initial transition was the biggest thing for me. Sometimes as an athlete in a team sport, you often think about how well you are doing in terms of your stats because it is a tangible thing to look at and measure your success by, but one of the things I learned from my coaches along the way is that your impact as a teammate and leader is more important, as well as being yourself, learning, and being coachable. I learned the importance of that really quickly and that lended itself well to college lacrosse. 


Another big jump was from collegiate to professional lacrosse, the level of play increases, it's fast, I get to play alongside and against of players I grew up looking up to throughout my career. The level of professional play is the best in the world, and it brings back the topic of self belief, confidence, and understanding your role knowing that everyday you can show up and bring something to the table, that might not necessarily be in the stat sheet. 


Charlotte playing for team USA

Another huge factor that guided my transition was knowing the impact we as players can have on the next generation of athletes. We once were the young girls watching, so always making sure we carry ourselves the way we would’ve hoped to see when we were younger. 


How have you seen the game of lacrosse grow since you started playing?


It’s phenomenal, lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports on both the men’s and the women’s side. The sport is fast, exciting, pretty to watch, and there is so much skill involved. I think the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) AU Pro Lax, and the current state of professional lacrosse is in a great spot and we hope to be able to continue to grow the sport to be bigger, to draw more eyes and exposure.


Collegiately, in the same sense, there are a lot more people and institutions who are investing more resources and time to get exposure and visibility to lacrosse players. Whether that be games on TV or access to watch these athletes compete and media coverage. I think that is a huge driving factor is the amazing people and organizations partnering with the colleges and professional leagues to showcase the talent, and to make it feel like it is on the platform that it deserves. 


Charlotte playing lacrosse

As it continues to grow through media coverage and fans, the skill is also elevating, and is currently higher than it’s ever been before. It is a really cool trajectory that lacrosse is on right now. And of course lacrosse being included  in the Olympics in 2028 is so awesome and is a testament to all of the hard work that the community has put in to push the sport forward. 


Describe your experience with AU pro lax? What have you enjoyed most about professional lacrosse?


AU Pro Lax is awesome, we are just so fortunate to have a place to play professional lacrosse after college. It is the top 56 women's lax players in the world and it's highly competitive every single week. That’s all you can ask for: high competition, passion, energy, and really skilled players competing day in and day out. 


Co-Founders of AU, Jon Patricof and Jonathan Soros, have done an amazing job investing in women's sports and the growth of their leagues, and working so hard to give us the professional landscape that all of these athletes, across all four of the sports that they run, deserve. It has been really exciting and something that we look forward to competing in each summer, and continuing to see grow each year. 


Both in college and professionally, how have you/do you manage high expectations and pressures that come along with playing at those high levels?


It is so difficult, no matter what sport you play, when there is that high level of pressure and expectation to succeed. I was very fortunate to have a lot of amazing coaches in my collegiate and high school career that really set a standard and established a culture of how to be successful, but how to love and support your teammates, how to have fun and remind yourself why you play as well. I think that’s the big thing, we play a team sport, and sometimes it’s not your day, sometimes you feel off and maybe can’t bring the energy that you typically do, and that is normal and OK.


But with the pressure that can be on the outside looking in, sometimes you can start to build a narrative around the expectations that are going on outside, but the biggest thing for me was being able to go into my locker room or team huddle and know that I could lean on someone on my team because we established the culture and foundation that when something hard comes or adversity hits, that we turn to each other as opposed to turning inward and focusing on the external pressure. Its about coming together as a team and voicing to your teammates when you need them to pick you up and maybe another day its your job to do that for them. That’s the beauty of being on a team sport, you all are working together to achieve a common goal, but there is no much value that people overlook in teams of being together and supporting one another in a pressure filled situation where you feel like you can’t live up to those expectations. 


What led you to becoming an ESPN analyst, how did that opportunity present itself?


Similar to my love of sports, I have always admired the world of sports broadcasting and journalism. When I was growing up watching college games, I would watch every broadcast that I could, and I was excited by how fun broadcasters can make a game or environment. Paul Carcaterra, who has been the voice of lacrosse for so long, is someone I’ve looked up to for a long time. He has been a great mentor and friend of mine. Every game he would cover I would tune into because he teaches you so much about the game while making it so exciting. It truly gives the sport so much “juice” and I credit him for a lot of the growth that we have seen in the sport, especially on the men’s side. 


Charlotte North

Getting into broadcasting, when I was in my final year of playing college lacrosse at Boston College, we were in the National Championship at Johns Hopkins, and the broadcasters Jay Alter, Sheehan Stanwick Burch, and Dana Boyle were at our practice the day before the championship game. They are a trio that I loved listening to and getting to learn from whenever I wasn’t playing. At the practice before my last game, I was talking with Jay and I remember telling him that I love what he and everyone on the team does, and wanted to put it out there that I admire their work and what they do for our sport. He told me to let him know if I ever saw myself entering broadcasting down the line, and one thing led to another and the season after I graduated, Paul, Jay and a bunch of others gave me the chance to join in on some broadcasts for both mens and womens games. I got to call games so many amazing people who are a part of the crew at ESPN, and I loved the process and experience. When the AU season was finished, I got to call some PLL games as well. Broadcasting has become a newfound passion of mine. It has been a new and exciting journey, and has given me the opportunity to learn a lot. I’m really luck to have been given the opportunity to learn more about broadcasting and get to try it out! 


How do you balance your role as a player with your responsibilities as an analyst, especially during the lacrosse season? How do you maintain a work life balance?


I wear quite a few different hats depending on the time of year, but I'm really lucky that I get to keep playing and live the dream of mine to play professionally, while also getting to broadcast and coach here and there. It has been so incredible, and an experience I am so grateful for. 


Over time [with a busy schedule] I have learned to take it day by day, week by week, and allow myself time to reset and recover between everything. Traveling from place to place can be draining and time consuming, so I try to allow myself enough time in my schedule to take days to myself to do things that fill me up in other ways that aren’t related to lacrosse. I’ve learned there is so much value in that, not just as an athlete, but in life, allowing yourself time to reset, as well as knowing what to turn to when you feel overwhelmed. Work is awesome, but life is too short to take some time to enjoy other things. Even in the middle of our season going week to week, game to game, it still applies. You reset each week, assess how you’re feeling, where you are, where you want to be, and what headspace you are in. That can be a really important skill to practice as an athlete, athletes want to go, go, go, all the time, but it’s important to give yourself enough in each category so that you feel your best going to each thing. 


Charlotte North high-fiving a youth lacrosse player

Do you have any advice to young lacrosse players about the mental aspect of the game?


Self belief and self confidence can be a really hard thing to achieve, so it can be a frustrating journey, but that is exactly what it is, a journey. You are not going to wake up one day feeling like you are on top of the world, you might after a good game, or might feel the opposite after a bad game, but that does not define you as a player, teammate, or person. 


Another mental aspect that I think is important, it is really hard when you are an athlete and your identity becomes your sport and how you are performing. The really cool thing about athletes I've met and been teammates with is that every person is different. I think the coolest thing you can do as a teammate and as an athlete is to be yourself, and to be confident in yourself. Confidence in sport comes from your play, but also being confident in yourself as a teammate and person is equally important. It’s important to know that everyone brings something different to the table, and that is something that can give you the confidence that you need to encourage positive self talk. You do not need to do something or be someone that is not within your realm, if you are a vocal and energetic person, that’s great and that’s what you bring to the table, but if you are not, that’s fine too because there are other things you bring with you. 


Pairing strong self belief as not just an athlete, but also as a person, is really powerful for anyone, not just in the world of sports.


Charlotte North and teammates

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