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Highland Rambler

Grace Szwedko Signs With Westminster University To Play Women’s Lacrosse

Spencer Baese

Highland student and star women’s lacrosse player Grace Szwedko officially signed to Westminster University to play lacrosse starting later this year post graduation on November 9th, 2023.
Szwedko has been playing lacrosse since being in third grade, for almost ten years. She was the first in her family to play the sport and remains the only one. As she had trained in lacrosse for years and majority of her life, she has remained close to home as well as traveling for tournaments but maintained a close connection with Westminster throughout her training.
She grew up in summer lacrosse camps provided by the university and loved being able to enjoy the sport and have the opportunity to learn and progress. As she entered high school, the environment became more competitive as she began moving to the next level.
“I kept going to these [Westminster] camps, so I was already on their radar,” Szwedko said. “But when it came time to start getting offers from schools, they had a coaching staff change, so I emailed the coaches with film and highlights. After I built that connection with the coaches and was on their list, it made it more important to have them come watch me play in person at tournaments and during fall league.”
As Szwedko has kept her dedication all throughout her lacrosse journey and has built these connections close to home, her family has maintained an important role in supporting her goals.
Szwedko has a close relationship with both her parents, Emmalee, and Matt Szwedko, as well as her older sister who is currently a senior in college. Her sister has taken the opportunity to study abroad for the past 6-8 months and has not been at home with the family. With her return in early January as well as Szwedko’s official signed commitment, the family is closer than ever knowing they will be able to support each other as she continues playing through college.
“It was pretty exciting [Grace signing to Westminster],” Matt said. “We had gone to see other schools which were not disappointing on the schools but were more disappointing on the programs. We were hoping for them to be a bit better. We were trying to be selfish and hoping that she would go to Westminster just based on the fact that it’s closer to home, and we would’ve been able to make more games than it would’ve been if she’d gone to an out of state school. That was probably the biggest part for Emmalee and I was that she would be really close, and we’d be able to see 2/3 to 3/4 of her games.”
Not only was Szwedko’s family excited about her close proximity, but also the fact that she will still receive a college experience. Szwedko will stay in the dorms with other student athletes from all around the country. There, she will continue her commitment to both school and sports as she furthers her studies and her lacrosse experience.
Although this situation fits well for Szwedko’s goals and achievements, there have been many circumstances where she has had to sacrifice other parts of her life to get where she is in lacrosse ranks.
As she was growing up, she also was a competitive swimmer, but ultimately chose lacrosse for the team atmosphere as she enjoys being on a team that works together to achieve the same goal rather than a more individual sport. Not only has there been other sports or extra curriculars sacrificed, but all different sorts of aspects. Emmalee has seen these other sacrifices that have been made with Szwedko’s dedication. “With her commitment to lacrosse, there have been many things, especially with friends and school that she has to miss,” Emmalee said. “She never complains and has always tried to do her best.”
With her other offers from Oregon colleges Willamette University as well as Lewis & Clark College, Szwedko had a range of different decisions to make not only surrounding her lacrosse playing, but her education as well. She balanced all aspects that went into the difficult decision to ultimately choose what matched her goals best.
With women’s lacrosse approaching as a Spring sport, Highland Rams will have the opportunity to watch the committed athlete in her last games with her Ram family before continuing her journey at a nearby school. With Westminster being such a close university, Rams could also have the opportunity to catch Szwedko in her in-state games next year.

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