Participating in her final season at Slippery Rock University with the women’s lacrosse team, senior physical education major Molly Buettner looks back fondly at the program that has given her so much.
“It’s great looking back and seeing how much this program has grown in the time I’ve been here,” Buettner commented. “I believe with the foundations in place, it will only keep on getting better.”
Going back four years ago, Buettner was scouted by The Rock while playing for her club in her home state of Maryland. Yet, despite Pennsylvania being a neighbor state, Slippery Rock University did not have a familiar chime to it for Buettner.
“I didn’t even know it existed,” Buettner said. “Once I heard of the interest, I looked into the education program and after visiting, it was the place out of everywhere that I really liked.”
Buettner is also quick to note the differences between back home and the now familiar environment of Slippery Rock.
“I went from a place where everyone I met played lacrosse to Slippery Rock where some people hadn’t even heard of the sport,” Buettner said. “Many aspects are slower paced here than they are back home.”
But adapting to new surroundings were not the only challenges posed to Buettner. The lacrosse season was brought to a premature end in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19, a vivid memory that Buettner still recalls.
“It was one of the strangest feelings I’ve felt before,” Buettner remarks. “We knew we couldn’t take anything for granted.
“When our coach delivered us the news that it would be our last practice, I can still remember the feeling; my heart just sank.”
Like many athletes across a number of sports, Buettner was forced to keep active from the comfort of her own home.
“[Physically] I was doing lots of YouTube workouts [but] there was a lot of uncertainty over how long the break due to COVID-19 would last so it was important to keep working,” Buetther shared. “It definitely changed my perspective on how I went into games last year.
“It was such a great feeling to play again [in spring 2021], but I went into every game taking nothing for granted and thinking it could be my last.”
Buettner also relied closely on her family to help her maintain her sharpness off the field during COVID-19 times.
“I have a twin brother and we pretty much do everything together,” Buettner remarked. “We would go out a lot together on long walks just trying to keep busy.”
Yet Buettner is speaks on the important role her father has played in her rise to playing at the collegiate level.
“My dad played lacrosse at high school and college so he would often come outside and we would talk through things together,” Buettner said. “He was like a coach to me but also knew when to step back and just let me play.”
Buettner’s parents have long been supportive throughout her lacrosse career, going to as many games as possible, home or away. She believes it gives her extra motivation to perform every time she pulls on the SRU jersey.
“They’ve been able to come out to a ton of games over the last couple of years [and] it’s such a great feeling knowing they’re there,” Buettner commented. “They try to get to as many away games as possible too.”
Interim head coach Taryn Burkholder has enjoyed a fruitful start to her opening campaign in the position, and Buettner was quick to praise the former Slippery Rock assistant coach.
“She is great with us, [and] understands the game from a player’s perspective,” Buettner reflected. “She knows how players are feeling and what they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
“I was so thrilled when she was put into the position of interim head coach for this year.”
Buettner believes Burkholder’s credentials line up with the program’s goals and objectives, thus believing women’s lacrosse would go from strength to strength if she was to be offered the job on a permanent basis.
“I think it would be everything for this program,” Buettner said. “It would just keep getting better.”
In her 2021 season, she appeared in all twelve games for her team, including making ten starts. After totaling 27 points on 20 goals and seven assists, she was named a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) scholar athlete, along with being placed in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) academic honor roll. Buettner has already recorded eight points this spring season after registering four goals and four assists.
As her time comes to a close on the field at Slippery Rock, Buettner’s objectives are clear.
“Simply put, I would love to win a PSAC championship,” Buettner said. “That’s what everyone wants and it would be the dream ending for me.”
The Slippery Rock women’s lacrosse team will compete next at Millersville University of Pennsylvania on March 26 at 1 p.m.