There is no doubt Sasha Bellack, a rising senior at Sacred Heart Prep, is one of the best lacrosse players on the Peninsula — having earned West Bay Athletic League Defender of the Year honors this past season.
She has also seen her stock rise playing for the Tenacity club team, based out of Alameda, that is regarded as one of the top clubs in Northern California.
But now Bellack is proving she is among the best in the country after playing with a regional all-star team in the Under Armour All American lacrosse tournament in Baltimore late last month.
Despite going just 1-4 with her West team, during which she scored three goals and added five assists, Bellack did enough to earn the attention of insidelacrosse.com, who named her a “player who impressed.”
“It was really nice (to be selected for the West team),” Bellack said. “I think it just made me feel that all the work I’ve done the last couple years … was worth it.”
This was not one of those “select” tournaments where an organization simply names the best players in a region and puts them on a team. Bellack had to go to San Diego and was just one of hundreds of girls to try out. Bellack said after an initial trial, there was a cutdown period — if your number was called, you stayed on for another trial.
That first cut winnowed the field to about 40 players, with only the top 23 making the team. Bellack was then told the team would be announced online within 48 hours.
“And it was like three or four days (before the announcement),” Bellack said. “You start thinking: was it enough? … I was replaying the whole tryout (in my mind).”
After making the team, it flew to Baltimore, had one practice together and then was thrown into the tournament. And while the team may not have had the results it wanted, Bellack said it was neat to see all these players from different parts of California (including one player from Oregon and one from British Columbia, Canada) gel together as the tournament went along.
“It was fun to see the growth,” Bellack said.
The same could be said of Bellack’s growth in the sport itself. She only started playing in eighth-grade, but in four years has quickly made a name for herself. So much so that she has already orally committed to Tufts University in Massachusetts.
She has played soccer “since I could walk,” but chose lacrosse as her path to college.
A lot of that can be contributed to Bellack’s mom, Mary, who put her daughter in lacrosse as a way to avoid any serious injury. Older daughter Alley had torn up both her knees playing soccer.
“I got so worried about injury issues in soccer, so I introduced her to lacrosse,” Mary Bellack said.
Even Sasha Bellack seemed to agree with her mom’s choice.
“I was thinking about taking soccer to the next level, but I’m injury prone,” Sasha Bellack said, adding she wears braces on each ankle and when she was younger, wore braces on both knees.
“Now I get bruises on my arm (and) I broke my thumb (playing lacrosse).”
She has not given up soccer — she will be a co-captain for the Gators’ soccer team this upcoming season — but Bellack feels a certain connection to lacrosse.
“I think I’ve always just enjoyed sports, no matter what they were,” Bellack said. “But one thing really unique about lacrosse is … a lot of the coaches are female and pretty much my whole life in soccer, my coaches have been all men.”
That connection is what led her to join the Tenacity club, which was founded by Theresa Sherry, a three-time All-American at Princeton, whose website says, “Connecting girls to their own power as athletes, students and citizens.”
“It’s great to see well-rounded women as my coaches,” Bellack said.
So as Bellack grows into a confident young lady, she continues to grow on the lacrosse field as well. So even though her team won only one game in Baltimore, there was a lot more winning that isn’t counted on the scoreboard.
“We won only one game against Southwest, but I think it helped me and a lot of the other girls grow (as players),” Bellack said.