Danko reflects on her growth as leader in Black’s program

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Bridget Danko (center) stands in Marquette's 17-6 win over Cincinnati on Feb. 14. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

If you ask Marquette women’s lacrosse head coach Meredith Black what stands out about senior attack Bridget Danko, she would tell you it’s something that wasn’t necessarily there four years ago.

“Over the years, she has grown into an incredible leader for our team,” Black said. “She has grown in all areas and evolved with the program and makes us better every single day. She has grown into the role of ‘I am going to do everything and go out of my way to be there for my teammates.'”

Danko said becoming more confident in herself translated to becoming a leader.

“Just through my four years, I could say that I have become way more confident and definitely have seen a change in my game where the confidence just really helps me do things that I would not have tried as a freshman,” Danko said. “That was something really important to develop. “

Danko comes from a lacrosse family. Her dad was a part of the 1981-82 National Championship teams at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her two siblings played in the BIG EAST for Marquette’s rival, University of Denver.

It was pretty fun being the youngest,” Danko said. “I would always go to my sibling’s games and aspire to be like them. I wanted to try (playing lacrosse) and ended up falling in love with it and went off from there.” 

Despite her family’s background with lacrosse, Danko said her decision to play lacrosse was “not forced” upon her but rather something she “wanted to do.”

“Growing up I played a ton of sports. I tried everything, but it ended up being lacrosse,” Danko said. “I just ended up knowing that I wanted to play lacrosse at the end.”

Black said even though Danko was not formally made named a captain this year, the senior took on that role for the team’s 12 first-years.

“Just being a senior gave her that confidence and that desire even though she wasn’t an official captain,” Black said. “She took on that role of what a captain would do, what would a senior do.” 

The coach added that Danko led by her actions more than words.

No matter what she stepped up, and sometimes it was done vocally but most of the time it was done through her actions,” Black said. “She recognized what we needed from her, and she went out and did it. It was really special.”

The BIG EAST Conference announced March 12 that all spring competition was being canceled due to COVID-19. Danko said receiving the news was “shocking.”

“When I first found out about the news, it was just total shock,” Danko said. “I couldn’t really believe it or accept it knowing that our last game we played was Detroit (Mercy) and that it was probably our last game as seniors ever, so it was heartbreaking.” 

In 17 career games, Danko scored three goals, collected one assist, won three ground balls and caused two turnovers. However, her time in the blue and gold might not be over.

The NCAA Division I Council announced March 30 it was going to grant an extra year of eligibility to spring sport athletes. Danko has not “written off” coming back next season, as she will be returning to Milwaukee in the fall to complete her student teaching requirement for graduation.

“It still is a process where there are certain things that need to be figured out,” Danko said. “I would be open to it. We will see how it turns out.”

Though her playing career isn’t officially over, Danko looked back on her time at MU and said one of her favorite memories is one that most of the seniors share: beating then-No. 24 Georgetown in the BIG EAST regular season finale last season.

“That was just one of those exciting moments that I can remember of just our team, the feeling of winning that game and then moving onto the BIG EAST Tournament,” Danko said. “It was just really exciting.”

Danko said she hopes to be remembered as a good teammate and supporter who gave it her all.

I want to be remembered giving 100%,” Danko said. “I would hope that is a legacy that this team carries on when they are on that field giving everything they got, not only for the girls on the field but for the ones on the sidelines, injured players and everything else.” 

This article was written by John Leuzzi.  He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.