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Relative Dominance

Terp Follows in Family’s Footsteps to Build Lacrosse Legacy

By Annie Krakower

Lacrosse

Courtesy of Gretchen Lamon-Steele and Maryland Athletics

Courtesy of Gretchen Lamon-Steele and Maryland Athletics

When Gretchen Lamon-Steele’s high school didn’t offer a girls’ lacrosse team, she and her sister started their own. At Anne Arundel Community College, she scored 17 points in a single game. As a Terp, she competed in the 1984 Division I NCAA women’s lacrosse national championship game, in which UMD fell to Temple.

But for Lamon-Steele, it’s what her family has contributed to the sport across the state that’s impressive.

“It’s just been handed down my entire life,” she says. “I grew up with lacrosse being the main sport in the Lamon family, and then carrying it on to the Steele family.”

Daughter Caroline Steele ’19, an attacker, has played a key role on offense in her four years with the Terps (including the 2017 NCAA championship team). Two of Lamon-Steele’s brothers, John ’84 and Chris Lamon ’89, played at Maryland, and Caroline’s three older siblings were on teams as well—Scotty at Belmont-Abbey, Brendan at St. Mary’s College (Md.) and Christopher on a club squad at Towson. Growing up, Lamon-Steele was one of the boys, and so was her daughter.

“You can imagine growing up … just thrown in goal, having shots thrown at me every day,” Steele says. “That has built my toughness up, and it’s kinda made me the player that I am.”

Mom helped out with that, too. Just as she started her own club team in Anne Arundel County as a high schooler, she formed the Mighty Mites program for 5- to 8-year-old girls in Severna Park, Md., drawing insight from a similar boys’ league that her brother John had created in Annapolis. All four of her brothers have coached in the area—John even for Major League Lacrosse’s Chesapeake Bayhawks—and she followed suit, overseeing Steele from the Mites to the local Green Hornets youth rec league to the Maryland United high school club squad.

“It was tough at times,” Steele says, “but she knows the game so well, obviously, and she was not soft on me.”

That tough love seems to have done the trick. Steele excelled at Severn School, setting multiple records, including an 11-goal game (not quite her mom’s 17-pointer—“She was a stud for sure,” Steele says).

And on the powerhouse Maryland lacrosse team, Steele isn’t the biggest of players at 5 feet 4 inches, but she’s stood out with crafty play and stick skills—reminiscent of Mom, one of the first to switch from a wooden to a plastic stick.

“Her first goal freshman year, she scored it behind the back,” Head Coach Cathy Reese says. “And not that we didn’t know before then, but it just kinda made me smirk and smile on the sideline because this kid is so creative, so competitive and not afraid to kind of think outside the box and try new things.”

As Steele’s senior season comes to a close, it’s only fitting that with the team’s usual home field, the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex, closed for turf replacement, the site of her final home games as a Terp is the same as her mother’s during that 1984 tournament—Maryland Stadium. After that, Steele is keeping an open mind. Maybe she’ll be a teacher, or maybe she’ll coach, continuing the family legacy.

“It’s a wonderful sport that’s treated our family really, really well,” Lamon-Steele says. “And hopefully from here on out, we’ll pay it back and help the sport grow more.”

Watch Steele’s game-winning overtime goal vs. North Carolina from earlier this season:

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