Sheehan Stanwick can smile now.
Lacrosse has never been more fun. As a senior, all the hard work is done.
All she's expected to do now is lead Notre Dame Prep back to the Association of Independent Schools A Division championship and uphold the unbeaten Pirates' No. 1 ranking.
No pressure there. At least, no more than last fall when she had to decide which of more than a dozen college scholarships to accept.
"Most people probably think that it's all really glamorous," said NDP coach Mary Bartel, "and Sheehan would be the first one to tell you that she's been really fortunate, but it's quite a bit of work and it's quite a bit a pressure.
"I don't think I saw her smile once the whole time. Sheehan never likes to let anybody down. Everyone made her feel so good and she had a hard time saying, 'No, thank you.' "
Nearly every NCAA Division I coach placed the All-Metro, All-America attack player at or near the top of her recruiting list. Stanwick's sleight-of-hand shooting style and remarkable composure under pressure -- not to mention 226 career goals and 55 assists at NDP -- fit any style of the college game.
Those coaches who didn't know much about Stanwick discovered her last Memorial Day weekend at the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Association's national tournament.
As she has with every big game, Stanwick turned South I's repeat national title run into her own showcase, winning the Heather Leigh Albert Award as the tournament's top schoolgirl.
"I wasn't real thrilled with that," said Georgetown coach Kim Simons with a laugh. "I thought we could sneak her in here because her father was a Georgetown alum. Everybody knew she was a good player, but when she did that, we knew we were in for some tough competition."
Simons did eventually sign her, but not before Stanwick experienced the sometimes exhilarating, often anguishing recruiting process to the fullest.
The phone started ringing at the Stanwicks' Roland Park home early last July 1 and the courting lasted until she signed with Georgetown in mid-November.
In between, her life was packed with phone calls, paperwork, home visits, campus visits and some of the toughest decisions she had ever had to make.
"It's a great experience but it can be very confusing," said Stanwick. "There's a lot of emotion all the time. You just want to keep everything in your mind. It's very overwhelming at times."
She kept notes on all of her contacts and visits. Her mother went with her to each campus visit, and Bartel sat in on the home visits. Slowly, she narrowed her list.
"She really grew up in the process," said her father, Wells Stanwick. "Being 16 years old and facing the issue of college and where you're going to spend the next four years is a tough enough decision. Throw lacrosse on top of that I don't think I could have handled it as well as she did."
Stanwick, who turned 17 in December, had the most difficult time deciding between her two finalists, Georgetown and Virginia. She spent a day immersed in Georgetown blue and gray thinking of herself as a Hoya; then she did the same with Cavalier blue and orange.
In the end, however, something that Simons had told her gave Georgetown the edge.
"Kim Simons told me that when she went to Princeton, they weren't even in the Top 10, and in her senior year, they won the national championship," said Stanwick. "I like the idea of going to a place that's never won a national championship and being part of building something."
Simons couldn't be happier with that attitude.
"It's rare to find that type of recruit," said Simons, "someone who wants to come in and build something vs. someone who wants to walk in and have it all right away."
Pub Date: 4/13/97