The University of Louisville is a long way from Angola.
While senior and returning All-Western New York girls' lacrosse selection Shayla Scanlan is in the middle of what she and her Lake Shore teammates hope wind up being a memorable season, that realization hits her when she pauses and thinks about her future.
The prospects of being of being away from home is something that is a bit worrisome considering family means everything to Scanlan -- who admits to being a homebody. With that in mind, she already is bracing for a potential future bout with home sickness.
The Seneca Nation member has already come up with a cure for it.
She wants to be a role model, especially to her seven younger siblings. She wants to take advantage of the potential life-changing opportunity that awaits her at Louisville because she is in an exclusive group -- the one in which a high-school athlete earns a Division I scholarship.
Nothing screams success like being a college graduate and doing so as a student-athlete to boot.
"I just want to show my parents I can do it," said Scanlan, who is believed to be the first Seneca Nation female to sign a Division I letter of intent, choosing Louisville over Albany and Syracuse. "I want to show my seven siblings (ages 2-15) below me I can do it. … I want to show them that they can do anything they want to in life, that there are no limits. … I just want to finish it out."
While graduation rates for student-athletes at Division I stand at 82 percent according to NCAA.org, that still means 18 percent fail to leave college with a degree for various reasons.
Scanlan clearly wants no part of the latter group.
"She has seen people make it to D-I and not be able to go all the way through and carry it out," Eagles coach Hannah Wawrowski said. "She is very motivated."
Scanlan has been driven to help the team win since seventh-grade. She ranks as Lake Shore's all-time leader in goals (234) and points (372) through 90 career games. In nine games this season, she leads the defending Section VI Class C champion Eagles in goals (29) and points (47).
While college is on Scanlan's mind, she's currently preoccupied with doing her part to help a Lake Shore team with 11 returnees continue to attain success on the field.
The Eagles (8-1, 5-0 in Class C) average 16.6 goals per game. They have scored 18 or more goals in a game five times – including hitting/passing the 20-goal mark on four occasions. They've had a game where every player scored at least one goal.
"Yeah we have a powerhouse but we want to respect our opponents," said Wawrowski, whose team has lost just twice in its last 28 games – both to powerful Rochester-area Section V teams. "We don't expect anything. If we're going to win the (Section VI) championship, it's because we worked for it.
"It's very difficult when it comes to sportsmanship about the score how far ahead of the other team to go because with their talent they make good clears, they run their plays, they pass (well). It's very difficult for them and for me to decide when to stop when we're doing the best we can to play the best we can."
While one would think the Eagles soar so high because they have a player of Scanlan's ability, that's only part of the story as she's not the only Division I-commit on the roster.
Juniors Ivy Santana and Jalyn Jimerson have verbally committed to Albany and Syracuse, respectively. Santana began the week ranked second on the team in goals (20) and third in points (28), while Jimerson stood third in goals (17) and second in points (31).
Others who have been essential to Lake Shore's success include seniors Madison Stevens, Olivia White and Sophia Koenig, who had four goals and three assists in Monday's win over last year's Monsignor Martin High School Association runner-up Mount St. Mary.
"It is a team sport; it isn't about one player," Wawrowski said. "If anyone of them went, say, rogue and tried to be an individual, they wouldn't stand out. They stand out because they help each other and they play together as a team."
Scanlan is a strong, determined leader with great anticipation skills on offense and defense, Wawrowski said. Scanlan's also not afraid of doing what's necessary to attain her goals – on and off the field.
"Since I've been coaching her she's come to me and said 'Coach, I want to make All-Western New York, what do I need to do?'" Wawrowski said. "I tell her and she does it. 'Coach I want to be captain what do I need to do?'And she does it. ... She told me the season before she was looking to play Division I. I said you can do it you just have to do this and that. Gave her a list of things and she did it and she signed with Louisville.
"When she says she wants to do something, when she's determined I know she's going to do it."