Both a junior- and a senior-year captain of her powerful Stanford Women's Lacrosse team, Charlotte Ward '10 admits she earned that important role—unprecedented for a junior—despite the fact that she wasn't even a starting player.
"I was not a star by any means," she shared with Upper Schoolers on her recent visit to Shore. During a School Meeting talk
, she explained how a non-starting non-star was overwhelmingly nominated to be captain by her lacrosse peers: it was "because I cared about the relationships I built with people, because I knew how to advocate for myself and advocate for my teammates, and because I knew how to communicate with my coaches. It was just the way," she said, "that I had learned to communicate with my teachers in ninth grade at Shore."
the complete video of her talk.]
Speaking about the interview process she went through with coaches before officially being named captain, she continued, "It feels a little like you're on trial. You sit in front of four coaches, and they ask questions for more than an hour. You submit letters of recommendation and your resume. And I truly feel I made it through that experience because of the foundations I received at Shore. After all, what did I have to do during the interview? Talk, advocate for yourself, reflect on your experiences, rely on the relationships you've built—all things I knew the power of the moment I stepped foot on campus at Stanford, because of what I learned at Shore."
That theme echoed throughout Ward's talk with Upper Schoolers. Through her high school career at St. Paul's, where she entered as a sophomore, and now during her college years at Stanford as a respected athlete and a political science major, she's relied on essential skills and values instilled here at Shore—especially in the ninth grade—by teachers with whom, she said, she still has the strongest of relationships.
Building those connections with faculty was one of the most valuable aspects of her ninth grade experience, said Ward. One of her ninth grade mentors, Tung Trinh, a past Shore history teacher and now Head of Middle School at Garrison Forest School, played an especially important role. "When you get accepted to Stanford," she recounted, "they give you the opportunity to send a certificate of appreciation to one of your teachers, and I sent mine to Mr. Trinh. From there on we’ve really had a great relationship. When my Stanford lacrosse team went and played Johns Hopkins last year, Mr. Trinh actually came to my game."
For Ward, the connections back to Shore extend to her ninth grade classmates, as well. "In the ninth grade, you really get to know the people you're in classes with. You build relationships with them in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to do at a bigger school. I'm still very close with many of the ninth graders who were my classmates. Just recently we were all chatting in a little Facebook message thread, and it’s been great to stay together that way, and remain connected to our roots. Because Shore is really where we all started. And though we’ve all gone off to do pretty interesting, different, exciting, and accomplished things, we still come back to each other."
Exciting and accomplished, indeed. When Ward isn't on the lacrosse turf or pursuing her studies, she's a leader on campus for the One Love Foundation
, a group she reached out to personally to help build the organization at Stanford. The non-profit is named after Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia student and lacrosse star who in 2010 was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend in her off-campus apartment. The news served as a wakeup call for many about the horrors of relationship abuse and violence. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to educating students and athletes about the signs of relationship violence and how to combat it.
Love had been a lacrosse idol of Ward, who was in eighth grade at the time, so when she reached Stanford, she took the lead in bringing the One Love Foundation's message to the West Coast. "I knew what I was passionate about, and I knew I wanted to give back in a way that mattered to me," she said. As a result of her efforts in conjuntion with those of other student athletes, Stanford lacrosse played rivals from the University of California, Berkeley, at Stanford last spring in a benefit for the One Love Foundation.
"Giving back to the community was an important pillar at Shore," Ward told Upper Schoolers. "It's what we do. And that's why I got involved with One Love. There's been so much talk about sexual assault on campuses, which is really necessary, but I wanted to help create awareness around the idea of relationship violence. I think a lot of people don't understand that this doesn’t just happen between strangers, it doesn’t just happen at frat parties where people don’t know each other. This is something where you can be in love with someone, but One Love is trying to teach you that where there's abuse, that’s not love."
In addition to helping stage the benefit lacrosse game, Ward and some of her fellow athletes also appeared in a video
released by Stanford Athletics to spread the word about One Love and relationship violence.
Again, Ward traces her involvement with the Foundation back to her middle school and ninth grade years. "Shore taught me about the importance of giving back, and of having the confidence to rely on yourself and to think about what matters to you—what your values are—and to put that into action."
Not that everything has come without struggle for this standout athlete, scholar, and activist. "I've had my share of troubles and challenges, at both St. Paul's and Stanford," Ward told the audience of sixth through ninth graders. "Things may not have always gone my way, in terms of my playing time on the field or the stats you see on the lacrosse website. But I truly do feel like Shore taught me how to stand up for myself, how to articulate my feelings, how to have confidence, and to say what I wanted to say. And these things were all solidified in ninth grade, where I got to figure out who I am and what I value. That's such a special year, when you have the support of the entire Shore community behind you, and you can really spread your wings."