On a warm spring afternoon in late March, Towson High’s Sophia Grose was outside with her lacrosse stick throwing a ball against a wall — with hope that some day she will do that again with her teammates.
Because the coronavirus pandemic closed Maryland schools for at least six weeks, she might never get to play a regular-season game in her fourth varsity season, but that didn’t stop her from working out on her own, hoping to reunite on the field with Towson classmates Anna Corona, Sofie Sorteberg, Julie Buttarazzi and Caelinn Satterfield.
“She said she learned a bunch of new stick tricks and she can’t wait to show us,” Towson coach Jamie Giffuni said. “She is so positive.”
Even before her lacrosse season was abruptly halted, after practice March 12, Grose had already spread her positivity — through knitting.
In the winter of 2017, Grose, who also runs for the indoor track and cross country teams, started the Knit for the Needy club at Towson High with co-founder Sophie Harrell.
“My grandmother taught me and I had been knitting for a while and than I went to school when I was knitting a scarf and my friend saw me and she said, ‘Oh, I also knit.’ So we just started knitting together for a bit and we just had so many hats and scarves that we decided that we should give them to someone.” Grose said.
The club started with about 27 people and it also introduced new students to knitting.
“We have a sewing machine in our house, so I’m looking into seeing if I can start sewing face masks with the material that we have at home,” said Grose, in an attempt to help health care workers and nurses.
When she is knitting on her own, she has a favorite item that she likes to design.
“I like to knit big, chunky hats,” Grose said. “I have my big needles and I have like big hats with pom poms on top, those are my favorites. We give them all away, but there are a bunch of mess-ups at my house that have giant holes and stuff.”
Her mess-ups on the lacrosse field were limited.
Last season, as an attacker for the 9-4 Generals, she had 20 goals, four assists and a 55% shooting average to go with 13 ground balls, 17 draw controls and eight caused turnovers.
“She has a really quick first step. She is really shifty and she is extraordinarily smart. I think that is what has always set her apart from other players,” Giffuni said. “She knows when to dodge, she knows when to cut, she can read defenses really well and she’s got great stickwork.”
Grose doesn’t remember one specific game or moment from her junior year because she soaked the whole season in.
“Honestly, it’s just like a collection of fun memories with all my friends,” she said. “It was such an amazing season. I can’t even just pinpoint one game that I loved. It was just so much fun to be with all my friends and my teammates and everything. The team dinners were so much fun and even just like hanging out. Like we always had an hour before practice like after school.”
Giffuni wasn’t surprised to hear that.
“It’s not about her with that kid. It’s about everybody else, which is why she is so great,” Giffuni said. “She is such a good kid.”
Although standing only about 5-feet-4, Grose was utilized around the draw circle and won ground balls with her feisty play.
“So, what stands out, is when we moved her from behind the line as a low attacker to playing on the circle as a middie in situations if we really needed the ball,” Giffuni said. “She could get that ball for us, whether it was out of the air or on the ground, especially if it was on the ground because she could outrun anybody to that ball.”
Her toughness overshadows her size and often surprises taller defenders.
“She could take a hit, she could give a hit,” Giffuni said. “She is just shorter than other people out there, but she doesn’t let it stop her.”
Although her senior lacrosse season at Towson High is in doubt, she hopes to play in college.
“I don’t know where I am going to be going to college,'' she said. "I am trying to figure that out right now. I’m deciding between [Division III] Tufts and [Division I] Georgetown and I’m thinking about lacrosse too, so that is like the middle of my thought process right now.”
Giffuni is confident she could play at the next level.
“For sure, she could play at Tufts. I don’t know where they were in their recruiting process, but I think, honestly, she could have played at either school,” Giffuni said.
Whether organized lacrosse is in her near or distant future, she knows she will have a hobby that can last a lifetime.
“I think we are just going to have everyone keep knitting and making things, and then there’s a bunch of underclassmen who are really like interested in the club. So they are going to carry it on after me and my friends leave, so I’ll probably do a donation next winter,” Grose said.