Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to help you become more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Navy defender Emily Mellin, who played in high school at nearby St. Mary's in Annapolis. A team captain, she leads a defense allowing just 7.22 goals per game for the No. 14 and three-time defending Patriot League champion Midshipmen (11-1).
In the fall, Mellin served as commander of the 5th Company, one of 30 company commanders in the brigade overseeing 150 midshipmen. An ocean engineering major, she plans to attend the Naval Postgraduate School after serving four years aboard a ship. She has a 3.5 GPA and has twice been named to the Superintendent's List.
Why did you choose the Naval Academy?
I grew up in Annapolis, so I knew about it my entire life, but it wasn't until I started looking at other schools that I realized that the Naval Academy was where I saw myself the most. I did a visit here with the lacrosse team and that definitely solidified my decision that this was where I wanted to be. The girls on the team were very welcoming, and that was kind of the deciding factor.
That's a big decision to make based on lacrosse because it's not just a four-year decision. What else went into it?
I knew I wanted to major in engineering if I could, so that was definitely part of my decision. The academy kind of sets you up to be able to major in engineering and play a sport. That's tougher at other schools.
What makes your defense so stingy this season?
It's the way we all work together, the midfielders and the defenders and anyone else that's over the end. We have a lot of trust in each other, and that definitely helps us keep the goals limited, and our goalie, Annie Foky, has really stepped up and been awesome for us in the cage.
Your team barely lost to defending national champion Northwestern last month, 15-12, so what is it going to take for Navy to make the next step up into that top tier of Division I women's lacrosse?
It's just keep doing what we're doing and doing the little things 10 times better, hustling to every ball in practice, doing an extra sprint here and there. The little things adding up over time, I think, will get us to that next step. I think we can do it here shortly. We really stood our ground in that game. Obviously the result wasn't what we wanted, and it still stinks that we lost that game, but it was cool to be able to hang with them for that long.
What has been the biggest change in the Navy program since you've been here, because you've been here through probably the greatest growth spurt?
It's kind of the swag that's come with the team. Coming in my freshman year, we hadn't won any Patriot League championships and then we got one my freshman year and again my sophomore year. And by the beginning of my junior year, it's kind of 'This is a legit program, and this is a legit team that's going places.' You could see little things in the program improving. We got more practice time. We got better practice facilities, better gear. It's been cool to see that transition.
What does being a company commander entail?
Aside from athletics, first-class midshipmen, the seniors, usually hold a position in Bancroft Hall, the midshipmen side of things. I was company commander first semester, the fall semester, and I was in charge of 150 midshipmen in my company, just pretty much making sure everything ran smoothly on a daily basis.
Does that responsibility have a lot in common with being a team captain?
As company commander, the motivation factor was a lot harder to figure out as there were 150 people just kind of doing their daily thing, getting good grades, volunteering, whereas on a team everyone is so focused on one goal, and that's doing well in our league and winning games. It's cool seeing the contrast between the two motivation tactics. Otherwise, it was just working with people, figuring out how to get them to do something successfully, efficiently. It is a lot easier when it's your friends.
As an ocean engineering major, what will you do after you receive your commission in May?
I'll have to report to San Diego beginning of July, and I'll be a surface warfare officer, so I'm going to be on a ship, the USS Milius. Your major doesn't have too much to do with what you're going to do in the fleet. I have a kind of different plan for the future with engineering, but for now, for the next four years, I'll be on a surface ship getting my qualifications, going the surface warfare route. It's the first time you're going to be put in a position to lead sailors and enlisted people on your ship. I'm going to be in the communications department doing a lot of paperwork, pretty much.
What is your plan for after that? It doesn't sound like you want to be a career naval officer.
I don't think I am, but after four years, I'm going to go to probably the Naval Postgraduate School and get my master's in engineering, so I'm on the engineering duty officer track. It's a five-year commitment [to serve after the academy], but if you go to school for part of those years, you usually have to give those back as well — a few extra years for free grad school.