Women’s lacrosse players connect with family through sport


Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

For Mary Dooley and Bridget Danko, lacrosse is much more than a game.

The sport impacted their lives growing up and created a way for them to deepen their relationships with their families.

Dooley and Danko, two members of the Marquette women’s lacrosse team, both have family members who also played lacrosse at the college level.

Dooley, a sophomore midfielder and attacker, has two older sisters, Grace and Anne, who played lacrosse at University of Notre Dame. Growing up, Dooley looked up to her two sisters on and off the field.

Dooley is from Chicago, where lacrosse only recently became popular. If her sisters didn’t play lacrosse, Dooley said she wouldn’t have been introduced to the sport.

“It was so new to me, a sport I had never heard of before until they started playing,” Dooley said. “They introduced it to me in first or second grade. I started going to their high school camps and I went to all of their games growing up.”

Dooley is the youngest of her sisters, so she watched and learned from their experiences.

“Learning how to respond to losses and how to react in games,” Dooley said. “Seeing how happy they are and how much success they have had has shown me how I want to be as a player. … I feel like I have learned everything from them.”

Marquette’s first game of the season was against Notre Dame Feb. 8, which led to a sibling rivalry out of pride between her school and her sisters’ alma mater.

“There was a little sibling rivalry, but they want the best for me at the end of the day,” Dooley said. “I have known Notre Dame’s coach my whole life through my sisters playing there, so it was funny to play against her.”

Since both of Dooley’s older sisters have already been college athletes, they know the process and have given Dooley guidance and advice.

“They have reached out to me throughout this entire process and checked in on me,” Dooley said. “They have experienced what I am going through, so they have given me good advice as to how to handle hardships I have faced here.”

Danko, a junior attacker from Towson, Maryland, not only has siblings who played lacrosse in college, but her dad also played lacrosse for University of North Carolina. Her brother Paul and her sister Mary played at University of Denver.

“I don’t even remember how I got involved with lacrosse. It was kind of just like you pick up a stick and you are part of the family,” Danko said. “I have been doing it ever since I can remember, so I would say that my interest in the sport stemmed from my dad.”

Lacrosse has given Danko and her family a way to bond, which she said makes the sport even more special.

“I have learned so many life lessons through lacrosse,” Danko said. “My dad has taught me that through the hardships it will make me a better person off of the field, and being a part of something bigger than myself is really special.”

Like Dooley, Danko is the youngest of her siblings, so she has learned from the rest of her family.

“I’ve really admired both of them,” Danko said. “Watching them and going to all of their games, I thought, ‘Wow they are so cool, I want to be like them.’ Seeing them give 100 percent makes me want to give it all, too.”