A Decade Later, Becca Block is Still the Top Defender in the Game


Becca Block has worn several uniforms since graduating from Syracuse in 2013.

A two-time world champion with the U.S. national team, Block has suited up in the red, white and blue for more than a decade. She’s also played plenty of professional lacrosse, competing for the United Women Lacrosse League’s Long Island Sound and the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League’s New England Command.

Rocking Athletes Unlimited’s purple, gold, orange and blue was the natural next step in Block’s professional journey.

“AU is a fun opportunity to still be competitive,” Block said. “Professionally, it’s awesome how we’re getting treated. Playing with the best players in the country and the world at a competitive stage, but also getting to live with everyone – it’s a different feel.

In a league featuring many players just removed from the college game, Block, who won her second straight Athletes Unlimited Defensive Player of the Year honor Sunday, is one of few competitors with experience in multiple professional lacrosse leagues and years of international play. Over several summers of playing professionally, Block said she has witnessed positive change each year.

Both the UWLX and WPLL folded after two seasons. But each league provided an opportunity to step on the field and improve her game, Block said. She also credited the prior leagues for their role in creating more professional opportunities for women’s players.

“If it weren’t for them, I don’t think we would be where we are or have AU today,” Block said.

While professional lacrosse is typically played during the summer, Block remains busy year-round as the associate head coach at Harvard. Things came to a halt in 2020, however, when the pandemic hit and the WPLL ceased operations.

Block said it was “heartbreaking” as a coach. Her Crimson players didn’t just miss most of the 2020 season, but also the 2021 season due to Ivy League rules prohibiting athletic competition. It was difficult to see them unable to compete and enjoy the camaraderie of being on a team, Block said.

But the time without competition allowed her to look inward. Block said she reflected on her goals and focused on her game, and she channeled her newfound energy toward making the U.S. team once again. While the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship was postponed by a year, Block found herself back in the red, white and blue in 2022 — with a gold medal to show for it.

During the school year, Block’s training includes hitting the gym with AU teammates and professional lacrosse veterans Dempsey Arsenault and Sammy Jo Tracy, who both coach with her at Harvard. Doing it with others who understand the sacrifices involved makes it more enjoyable, Block said.

“Having them there to pick you up and cheer you on definitely helps,” Block said. “We have fun while we’re doing it, and I can’t imagine doing it alone.”

While Block is a veteran of professional lacrosse, AU’s model is markedly different from the leagues that came before it. Features like drafting new teams each week, earning leaderboard points and having facilitators are all unique to the league.

As a second-year player, Block said she feels more comfortable with the rules and style of play. But the differences between AU’s rules and the college game meant an adjustment period for this year’s rookies, she said.

Although her long-term experience with professional lacrosse has its benefits, Block said she learns from the league’s rookies “all the time” and it’s often a “give and take.” She said the veterans have experience on their side, while the rookies bring liveliness to the field.

“They’re young, fun and energetic,” Block said. “They bring that element. We’re just trying to keep up with them and play with them and their standards.”

AU also offers a special opportunity to get to know college players she’s watched but never met. The community-oriented nature of AU has helped both foster newfound friendships and rekindle old ones

Players are often together up until the hour before the game, Block said. Then they take the field, compete against each other until the whistle blows and hang out with each other again shortly afterward. Whether it’s playing golf or spending time together at the hotel, Block said she and her teammates are always having a good time.

For Block, AU has it all: a professional feel, close relationships with competitive teammates and a chance to continue improving her game. She hopes someday that women’s professional lacrosse won’t just be a four-week experience, but a full-time job. AU’s treatment of players is bringing the sport closer to that goal, she said.

“While we’re here for four weeks of AU, that’s how they make us feel and how it operates,” Block said. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

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