“When I grew up, I played basically every sport imaginable — I had a lot of energy, so it was good for me to let it out,” Rachel Stevenson shared with a laugh.
In high school, Stevenson stayed active with basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball and track, though she “didn’t really do distance until after college.”
Originally from Maryland, Stevenson went to Boston University in 1997 and played Division 1 college lacrosse. She ran the Boston Marathon in 2002, then the Providence Marathon and New York City Marathon the following year.
While in Boston, she met and married Dave Stevenson and then moved to the suburbs. They’ve been in Hopkinton seven years with daughters Lucy and Cora and son Walter.
Running took a temporary backseat to family and career; but this month, Stevenson will run the Boston Marathon to benefit Hopkinton Girls Youth Lacrosse (hopkintongirlslax.com).
“Now I finally have time to devote to it, and a good cause to run for, so I decided I’m going give it a try — 21 years later!” she marveled.
When her eldest daughter was in first grade, Stevenson worked with Parks & Recreation to add a lacrosse program for the first and second grade age group; she ended up becoming president of Hopkinton Girls Youth Lacrosse (HGYL) when it formed. She’s since stepped back from that role to focus on coaching and has had the opportunity to coach both of her daughters’ teams.
“Young kids are just like sponges, and they’re high energy,” Stevenson remarked. “You can teach them something, and the next week, they’ve got it down.”
Stevenson has been coaching for seven years. At one point, she coached high school lacrosse and “loved it,” but she said she especially enjoys working with youth, as, “They just make me smile.
“There was a day [recently] when I was pretty tired — I’m a teacher, and it was a long day, and I headed to practice like, ‘I don’t know if I have anything left to give’ … but within a minute, I was laughing with them.”
Per its mission statement, HGYL follows “a philosophy that encourages the inclusion of all and places more importance on participants having fun while learning the game of lacrosse.”
That’s a philosophy Stevenson supports. “The kids, they love to keep it fun, and that’s the whole point of sports, is the fun of it,” she said, and added that there’s plenty of time later for competition. “When they get to high school, if they want to get more serious, they can play club.”
The program has expanded significantly since its inception and is open to Hopkinton residents in kindergarten through eighth grade. Currently, there are three age-group divisions with three teams per group. Money raised from Stevenson’s Boston Marathon fundraiser will pay for such things as equipment and turf time, as well as help provide financial aid for those who need assistance with registration fees.
HGYL offers a pressure-free outlet for youth, valuing sportsmanship, teamwork and integrity over winning. There are no tryouts, no cuts, no team rankings and no championship, and the organization strives to give all players equal time on the field.
“It’s about letting every girl try lacrosse if they want to,” said Stevenson.
Donations to Stevenson and Hopkinton Girls Youth Lacrosse can be made via Venmo to HopkintonGirlsYouthLax with the comment Marathon.