VYPE-U: Finding A Purpose
We naturally devote ourselves to things that draw our attention, inspire us, or trigger an emotional connection. Oftentimes, those things include a club at school or, in this case, a sports team. Jennifer Lopez is a Varsity Panther for Bridge Lacrosse and has been playing for almost three years. She is a prominent senior at Irma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School in Dallas, TX, one of our Varsity captains, and a strong offensive player.
For Lopez, Bridge has always been a safe space. A place where she could work with people who instantly welcomed her and who only sought to give her that safe space. "I remember coming to my first fall ball practice in 2018 and was instantly welcomed with a warm smile from Coach David and everyone else. Lacrosse in itself showed me a deeper side of teamwork. There's something about working with people on the field compared to a group project that really builds relationships and confidence." said Jennifer.
She credits Kenia Rico, a current Varsity Panther, for her decision to join lacrosse. At first, she was a bit skeptical of the sport as a whole and even questioned why anyone would want to play lacrosse. It wasn't until she furthered her knowledge about Bridge and what it stands for that she wanted to commit to it. The ability for an organization to provide connections, academic resources, and, most of all, lacrosse really grasped her attention.
Bridge Lacrosse | Jennifer Lopez 2021 - Fall 2020 - Uncommitted youtu.be
Throughout her years with Bridge, Jennifer has grown, not only as a player but as a leader for our team. She is always the first one to start cleaning up the field or the loudest cheerleader on the sidelines during our scrimmages. All of the characteristics one can think of when it comes to being a leader, Lopez has them. Jennifer believes leadership comes in many different forms, but to her, it means showing up, giving it your all, and being vulnerable to making mistakes— she's done just that; so much so that she is currently our Varsity Captain.
During this interview, I asked her an important question that correlates with her identity and with many of our teammate's identities.
When asked, "How has being a Latinx/Hispanic student-athlete impacted or affected your athletic life in any way shape, or form? What advice would you give other Latinx/Hispanic student-athletes?" Lopez responded, "Like many Latinx/Hispanic lacrosse student-athletes, I think we are often bombarded with the question, ¨ What's lacrosse?¨ and it makes me much more aware of the disparities in the sport. Even when being the largest minority group, the accessibilities to the sport and equipment generally jeopardize not only communities like myself but also the rest of minorities alongside. My biggest piece of advice for Latinx/Hispanic student-athletes would have to be to take up space everywhere you go and feel comfortable with your presence because you offer much more than skin color and assumptions." This is extremely important to talk about because a large majority of our teammates are people of color who are underserved, and it is my intention to inspire others to never give up on their dreams.
As we all know, the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, but that won't stop Lopez from continuing her leadership and academic work. She is hard-working, dedicated, and has the fate that everything will work out in the end if it's meant to be. Jennifer said, "I don't really like to think about the future as a whole because it's really overwhelming but ideally I would definitely want to give back to an organization that gave so much to me. Career-wise I'm planning on studying kinesiology or exercise science to hopefully become a sports and conditioning coach or what comes along my way in the field."
Aside from experiencing that rush of adreline Jennifer gets when playing lacrosse, she has been able to find her purpose, and expand her social and emotional intelligence through the sport. She has grown into a strong, and confident leader on and off the field, and has developed a keen sense of focusing on how she can improve as a person and as an athlete.
"The one and only thing I wish I could change from my journey would be, had I known lacrosse and the Bridge family made this much of an impact in three years, I would have joined a lot sooner."
-Jennifer Lopez '21
Want to know more?
Follow Jennifer on Instagram: @jlo.oo