Editor’s note: This article by Katie Hoeg was originally published in the October 2019 issue of The Rams Club’sBorn and Bred magazine.
As a young girl, I never needed to look far for a strong female support system. Raised by a mother who works full-time while raising four kids and surrounded with two inspiring younger sisters, I was constantly motivated to form big aspirations. This support funneled me into sports, where I found my second home in lacrosse.
With the outside encouragement added to the inner desire to become great, the recruitment process was simple. Surround myself with the best. Coming off a national championship year in 2013, the Carolina women’s lacrosse team, led by head coach Jenny Levy, exemplified this standard. When offered the opportunity to join this successful community, I ran with it, knowing that I wanted to be a part of something extraordinary.
Now in my final year at Carolina, I fully realize the power in my decision and could not be more grateful. Gaining 34 additional sisters with the team, I am surrounded with the fierce, competitive spirit that the female Tar Heels emit. The empowering drive to be the best is not only fueled by these teammates, but also by the entirety of women student-athletes at Carolina. United through “Carolina” on our chests, we innately empower each other, knowing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Daily, I am reminded by this opportunity through a pre-practice ritual where the team gathers in a circle where we ground ourselves in the moment. Coach Levy brings attention to refocusing our minds to the moment at hand, instead of worrying about outside stressors. In a specific practice during off-season training, Coach Levy brought up a topic that resonated deeply with me. She noted that [female] individuals constantly fall victim to placing ceiling and restrictions on themselves, deeming certain endeavors impossible. In order to find out what we are truly capable of, she emphasized that we must break these boundaries and limitations.
While on that day, she might have been referring to the grueling workout ahead of us, I have carried this wisdom beyond the lacrosse field. The theme of self-discovery through challenging my perceived limitations has allowed me to maximize my potential. Being around successful female programs, coaches, and student-athletes has only reinforced the notion that “UNC female student-athlete” is synonymous with a formidable female force. It is a unique opportunity to be surrounded by the best female athletes in the world as I am constantly empowered and reassured of my quest for greatness.
A common thread throughout the mindset within Carolina athletics is the combined power of the body and the mind. While it is pertinent to develop an elite physicality, the mental aspect is what differentiates the good from the great. As a member of an organization that constantly reinforces the desire to break boundaries, I have the courage to chase my own dreams.
We are made aware of the influential platform that Carolina student-athletes have, illustrated by the thousands of young girls who, like me in 2013, point to us with amazement in their eyes. We know that we not only have an opportunity to have an impact on young female lives, but we have a responsibility to prove that women are a force to be reckoned with – in both sport and life. Being a member of the Carolina family has ultimately taught me that my strength comes from within, but it is unveiled by the empowering women with whom I surround myself.
— Katie Hoeg ’20, Tar Heel women’s lacrosse player, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill