Steamboat graduate Lucy Shimek receives national recognition from U.S. Lacrosse
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Lucy Shimek tosses a few passes to her training partner on Gardner Field.
It’s summertime, and Shimek just graduated from Steamboat Springs High School three days ago. Now, she’s back on the field where she learned the most prominent non-lacrosse lessons a lacrosse player needs to learn: how to be a good teammate and how to grow a sport in a town that seemingly has more than enough sports to offer.
The Steamboat graduate piled on a list of accolades after leading her team to its first playoff appearance in 18 years.
She earned first-team all-league all four years in a row on varsity and climbed the ladder of all-state honors throughout the years. She started with honorable mention all-state freshman year, then second team all-state sophomore and junior years and this year, received first-team all-state.
1st team all-conference
2nd team all-conference
Katie Lake (midfield/defense)
At the national level, Shimek received U.S. Lacrosse’s All-American and All-Academic honors, in addition to being Colorado’s only Jackie Pitts Award winner, which recognizes a dominant player who exemplifies the spirit of the game on and off the field.
“Jackie (Pitts) is from same hometown in Delaware I’m from. Back then, on the East Coast, 90% of girls played lacrosse and field hockey, and she managed summer camps,” Betsy Frick, Steamboat’s former head girls lacrosse coach, said. “She was the first World Cup coach. Who knows what’s in Lucy’s future, but both are very passionate and want to see other people learn and improve.”
Going the distance
Shimek lived in Colorado Springs from the time she was 1 year old until the summer before her freshman year of high school. She started playing lacrosse in the third grade and joined her first club team, XTEAM, in sixth grade.
“It’s out of New York. They take girls from nontraditional lacrosse areas, and they bring them together to form a team,” Shimek said. “We had girls from Ohio, California, Georgia, Utah. It was awesome, but it wasn’t the right fit for me necessarily.”
Shimek attended an invitational camp at Lake Placid, New York, before her sophomore year, where she connected with Northwestern University star Shelby Fredericks.
“I watch Northwestern a lot. I idolize her and asked to take a picture with her, and she was like, ‘Yeah totally, here’s my number, text me anytime you need anything,'” Shimek said. “So, we were looking for teams on the East Coast, and we found out that Shelby coached for the Long Island Top Guns, and I reached out to her.”
Fredericks connected Shimek to Bill Smith, who runs the Top Guns club teams in New York, and he allowed her a try out. Shimek played the remainder of her high school years for the Top Guns. She didn’t have to practice during the week with the team, as long as she flew in for tournaments on weekends in the fall.
During the summer, Shimek stayed with teammates or in Airbnbs with her mom to play with the Top Guns.
“We live modestly, and we stayed in Airbnbs and drove economy rental cars and made it work,” Shimek’s mother Lisa Shimek said. “That means on Blues Break, instead of the Caribbean, we go to New Jersey for lacrosse.”
Playing on the East Coast allowed Lucy to turn the heads of college coaches and aided in her landing a Division I scholarship.
It wasn’t easy, though, especially since Lucy and Lisa moved to Steamboat before her freshman year. It was far away from the more competitive high school programs she would’ve played for in Colorado Springs and made traveling to the East Coast during her later years even more of a challenge.
But Lisa and Lucy made it their mission to grow the sport in a mountain town.
Lucy didn’t just play for the high school team but also helped officiate and coach at the youth levels.
Her mom, Lisa, is on the sidelines of every high school game taking stats and photos, while also volunteering her time to help organize lacrosse at youth levels.
“There’s a need, and I naturally just volunteer for all kinds of things,” Lisa said. “Before we moved here, they had a team that had gone to a couple tournaments, but very limited experience. Having been on the front range and having had this cyclical experience with fall ball and spring ball and a couple camps, we thought it was fun for the community.”
The Shimeks teamed up with Frick, who ran the varsity team for three of Lucy’s high school years and helped foster a program that has grown from one team to four in a few years. The youth lacrosse program now has 50 girls playing from U9 through eighth grade.
“Early on as a coach, it’s like, ‘Oh, another text from Lisa Shimek,’ but she’s awesome with kids, with enthusiasm, and they both live and breathe lacrosse,” Frick said. “I’ve seen Lucy at a mid-season dinner before a game, and she’s watching two different college games on two different cellphones at the same time.”
As a player, Lucy amassed 242 goals in her high school career. But the number of goals depleted over the years when she became a better team player.
“She was very, very skilled, and she was a dominate player on the team, but she was a challenge to coach,” Frick said. “When you’re that much of a dominant player, it doesn’t take much research for the other team to face guard and double team you. It’s frustrating as a player. … She would have unsportsmanlike reactions, and it’s like, ‘Lucy, you are a referee, you know you can’t react that way.'”
As a member of a team that barely had the basics nailed down, Lucy was a ball hog, not trusting her teammates to catch her passes in the beginning. Frick said that was not the case this year.
“She was looking on like, ‘Who can I pass to?'” Frick said. “It was really neat to see. It just took maturity.”
The biggest contrast is seen from comparing her freshman and senior years. Lucy scored 62 goals and had 11 assists during her freshman year. During her senior year, she scored 50 goals but had 26 assists.
Her final high school season ended on May 7, with a first-round playoff loss to Mullen 15-7.
The loss marked the end of a high school career that, at times, was frustrating. She never doubted becoming a Division I lacrosse player, but seeing her high school team make the playoffs was a product of something she worked so hard to build on and off the field.
“I never thought it could ever happen,” Lucy said. “It was kind of weird, senior night, our last game here, I didn’t cry. I was just happy. Then, that game. We got all the way through, and we got to the huddle at the end, and I just lost it.”
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