Three-Time Captain Grace Griffin Leading Maryland Back to Final Four

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER


There are a dozen former Maryland women’s lacrosse players in the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame. The names are legendary. Sarah Forbes. Jen Adams. Kelly Amonte-Hiller.

Then there’s the list of recent Terp greats who’ve yet to be inducted. Taylor Cummings, the only three-time Tewaaraton Award winner in history. Megan Whittle, the program’s all-time goals leader. Megan Taylor, the first goalie to win the Tewaaraton Award.

The list of Maryland icons is about as long as the program’s storied history. But midfielder Grace Griffin has done something not even one of her predecessors has. The first three-time captain in program history, Griffin is the experienced, consummate leader on a roster mostly made up of players who’ve never made a Championship Weekend appearance before. That changes this weekend.

“I couldn’t do it without anyone who came before me,” said Griffin, a graduate student who’s started 83 of the 88 games she’s played in her career.

That humility comes across in more ways than one. Griffin is well-spoken and defers the praise to her teammates. A heady player, her words are equally as cerebral. She doesn’t boast about being the only three-time captain in the history of women’s lacrosse’s most storied program. She can hardly even believe she’s the one who gets that honor and responsibility.

Griffin, who grew up about 45 minutes away from College Park in Sykesville, Md., knew of the legends who had taken the field for the Terps before she arrived as a freshman. She remembered meeting Dana Dobbie, now an assistant at Loyola, and couldn’t believe how willing the alums were to give back.

“I was like, ‘Oh my god. You know who I am?’” Griffin recalled.

Inspired by those former Terps, Griffin focuses on doing more than just chastising players for mistakes or treating underclassmen like rookies. She takes her captainship seriously.

“You’re not doing your job if you’re not instilling leadership and wisdom into those under you,” Griffin said one day after Maryland secured its place in the NCAA semifinals. “I wouldn’t be the leader I am today without what I’ve learned from anyone else.”

Griffin earned captain for the first time in 2020, a year in which her leadership skills would certainly be put to the test. A junior at the time, Griffin was off to a great start with 16 ground balls and five points through six games before COVID-19 wiped out the remainder of the season.

Even during unprecedented times, Griffin didn’t shy away from leadership. The team informally organized into groups to better check in on each other. There were Zoom workouts and Zoom team meetings. It was a drastic change from how Griffin would have preferred to lead.







“It was a big adjustment, especially with the way I like to lead,” Griffin said. “I like to lead by example and in person. Something with our culture that we harp on all the time is just doing the little things. Just reaching out to one another and trying to stay in contact. We had to keep that positive mindset that things were going to get better.”

Maybe Griffin was one of the perfect captains to have during that difficult season. Maryland was just 3-3 at the time the season ended. After a national championship in 2019 led by a bevy of senior leaders, Maryland was young — really young — for the first time in a long time.

Head coach Cathy Reese didn’t hesitate when naming her a first-time captain in 2020. Aside from her All-American caliber skills in the midfield, she had all the characteristics necessary to guide people in the right direction.

“She just always does the right thing and works hard on and off the field,” Reese said. “She wants to do well in everything that she does, and that’s important to her. Her personality is one that’s caring and compassionate, but passionate about what she’s doing, whether that’s being a good student, being a good teammate, a good daughter or a good friend.”

The 2021 season wasn’t much easier. Sure, the pandemic improved enough to have a season, but Maryland didn’t play out-of-conference foes until the NCAA tournament. An up-and-down season culminated with a loss to Duke in the second round.

That loss seems like it was years ago. That’s how far Maryland has come in the past 12 months. An incredible haul in the transfer portal brought in Aurora Cordingley and Abby Bosco, both first-team USA Lacrosse Magazine All-Americans. Emily Sterling has elevated her game to first-team All-American levels. The Terps, outside of a hiccup against James Madison, have been unbeatable.

“How last year ended, it did leave a sour taste,” Griffin said. “That led to us playing with a different level of intensity and energy.”

“Intense” is probably the best word to describe the Maryland midfield, where Griffin makes her biggest impact. Not one to light up the box score, Griffin thrives on the dirty work. She does the things that go unnoticed in games when Maryland wins by double-digits.

On the season, Griffin has 27 goals, 24 ground balls and 17 caused turnovers. She knows her role. She’s not on the field to score 60 goals or quarterback the offense. She’s there to make life miserable for the other team in just about any way possible.

“Our team overall, we always preach that everyone’s roles important,” Griffin said. “Everyone on our team is so important, and we make everyone better.”

Spoken like a true captain.

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