The Glenbrook South girls lacrosse player did not like what she noticed during a Titans game in Michigan last month.
Her team seemed slow.
It concerned her, so she came up with a proposal and presented it to her coach, Annie Lesch, upon the team’s return to Illinois.
“She told me, ‘Coach, we need to run more, train harder,’ ” Lesch recalls. “Then she asked me not to tell any of her teammates that it was her idea. She asked me to say, ‘A little bird told me we need to run more.’ ”
The chirper was Titans senior middie and captain Eleanor Walsh. Lesch appreciated Walsh’s suggestion, but that didn’t stop her from denying the third-year varsity starter.
“That was at a point in the season where we had to start tapering the girls to help them get ready for the playoffs,” Lesch says. “Never satisfied — that’s Eleanor.
“We started running less, not more.”
Walsh’s run in Titans lax gear is nearing its end. The Illinois High School Women’s Lacrosse Association state playoffs began earlier this week, and Walsh — along with the rest of her classmates on the team — would like nothing more than to make another Final Four appearance later this month. Glenbrook South placed fourth at state two years ago and reached the Elite Eight last spring.
“Our team this year, as a whole, is a happy, energetic team,” says the 5-foot-7 Walsh, all set to attend the University of Kansas, where her father, Tom — a former Glenbrook South football player — attended. “And I love it when we’re clicking and connecting and playing as one.”
Walsh isn’t just a fast player for a 10-8 team that is considerably better than the looks of that record.
“Eleanor,” Lesch says, “is super fast, ridiculously fast. She’s not our top scorer, and she’s not our top feeder. But she wins draw controls along the circle, wins ground balls and doesn’t lose the ball when she has it in the midfield.
“A gritty player,” the coach adds.
Off the field, she loses the grit and cracks people up with her wit.
Verbal Exhibit A:
On what her parents, Tom and Melissa, like to discuss at the dinner table after their daughter’s lacrosse games: “They’re always telling me,” Eleanor Walsh says, “to try new tricks when I play. The tricks they normally propose — they’re all illegal.”
Verbal Exhibit B:
“Hilarious … Eleanor is hilarious,” says Titans senior attack Annie Morahan, bound for the University of Colorado-Boulder. “The last time she made me laugh? Today, not too long ago. She’s got this bubbly, funny personality, the kind you always want to be around; I’m going to miss it when we both start college in the fall. She says hi to everybody. No, she says hi to everybody and follows that up with a giggle. She said hi to me in middle school, and I didn’t even know her at the time.
“If any of us is down about something, ‘El’ likes to say, ‘Pick your head up, woman!’ ”
Walsh picked up the game of lacrosse as a fourth-grader, mostly because her cousins played it and encouraged her to head to a back yard and get a feel for passing and catching a lax ball. It didn’t take her long to sign up with the Illinois Girls Lacrosse Association.
Walsh competed in other sports — cross country and track — in her middle-school years. Her mother was a runner as a youth.
What Walsh remembers the most as a freshman lacrosse player was the collective drive of Glenbrook South’s senior lacrosse players. It stuck with her in the ensuing years, and she’s battling with a similar verve on fields this spring.
“As a player, she has a quiet aggressiveness,” Morahan — another captain — says of the teammate with “Boo” for a nickname. “She gets at it, goes after it, in her own way. You might not always notice her aggressiveness, but it’s there.”
Walsh’s favorite musician is Frank Ocean, a rhythm and blues singer. Any song on Ocean’s “Blonde” album floats her boat.
The sound of Walsh’s voice, around her teammates and coaches?
Hard to beat.
“I can’t remember a time when Eleanor wasn’t happy,” Lesch says. “She never sulks, never is in a bad mood. If you’re looking for someone who’s always smiling and has the ability to make you laugh, look for Eleanor.
“We’re going to miss so many things about her. We’re going to miss her personality, and we’re going to miss her on the circle.”
Notable: Glenbrook South was trailing visiting Loyola Academy 7-1 when lightning halted play with 3:23 left in the first half of South’s Senior Night game on May 10. Senior attack/middie Lindsey Karsh scored the Titans’ goal, and GBS sophomore goalie Delaney Gallagher made several impressive saves on point-blank shots. The eight-time reigning Illinois High School Women’s Lacrosse Association (IHSWLA) state champion Ramblers had entered the game with a 20-2 record. … Coach Annie Lesch’s Titans won five straight games from April 10 to April 20, outscoring their opponents by a combined 77-30. … Glenbrook South, seeded fourth in the state tournament, was scheduled to host an IHSWLA sectional semifinal on May 17. The top three seeds in the tournament are Loyola Academy, New Trier and Hinsdale Central. … GBS avenged last year’s 14-9 state quarterfinal loss to Maine South with a 21-9 defeat of the Hawks on May 3.