Lacrosse is a huge part of my identity. If you don’t know who I am, my name is Katie Facciola, but the lax world knows me as Foss. I gained popularity on Instagram about five years ago for my stringing and dyeing work I would post, and in 2019, I opened my very own store called Foss Lacrosse in Wakefield, Massachusetts. This year, you might have found me on TikTok as I grow my presence on there.
People would assume lacrosse has been a part of my life since I could walk. But that wasn’t the case for me.
I grew up in a small town in western North Carolina called Hendersonville. Most of our entertainment came from driving to Walmart late at night and having a scavenger hunt, playing pranks on each other, or playing man hunt in the nighttime darkness surrounded by fireflies with friends you’d known since you were in kindergarten.
Athletics were always a huge part of my life. My parents had me in every classic sport they could. I played softball, basketball, and soccer every year up until high school. When I entered high school, I played a year of soccer and didn’t have the passion for it I used to. So, I stopped playing competitive sports and started doing video production, my other passion. I loved it, and you would have rarely seen me without a camera in my hand.
Sports were always a part of me, though. I was always watching ESPN and Sunday Night Football with my dad. But one night, I couldn’t sleep, and that night changed the course of my life.
It was 2005. I woke up at 2 a.m., which wasn’t uncommon for me, and I turned on the TV. ESPN was airing a sport I had never seen before. These girls had these sticks and were passing a baseball around the field. It was Northwestern against Princeton in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals. It looked awesome – a combination of all the sports I had loved mushed into one.
I watched the whole game on mute (couldn’t wake up the parents) and was hooked from there. But like I said, in Small Town USA, we didn’t have lacrosse.
The next morning, I went up to my parents and said I wanted to try lacrosse. I was going into my senior year of high school. My parents researched as much as they could, and the closest lacrosse club was two hours away in Charlotte. So, my parents had to tell me it wasn’t in the cards.
But being the stubborn little teenager I was, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I went down to our local sporting goods store with the hopes of finding a lacrosse stick, but I struck out. I went to the next-best place, the book store, and bought every book I could find on lacrosse and read it end to end.
We didn’t have YouTube or ESPN+, so watching the sport was basically out of the question for me. But I was always thinking of it. When I started applying to colleges, the first thing I would look at was if they had lacrosse. I had always wanted to go to Appalachian State, it was my dream school, but I didn’t think it had lacrosse. But when I went to check again to see, it had just added a club program and in big letters, it said, “NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY.”
This was it. I was going to App State, and I was going to play lacrosse.
I got in and enrolled. The day after move-in, I walked down to the club expo and signed up for lacrosse. I picked up my new lacrosse stick and showed up to the first practice with a men’s stick. Cringey, but yup, that happened.
They taught the basics as best as they could, and that was basically it. I definitely wasn’t the best player on the team. Honestly, I was probably the worst. I volunteered to play wherever they needed me and fell in love with being a goalie.
That was how my lacrosse journey began. I couldn’t get enough. I participated in every tournament, every practice, and every event for the years I was at Appalachian State.
After college, I thought I was like most post-college athletes in America. The sport I was so passionate about was over. Now I could enjoy it on occasion if I saw it on TV, brag to my friends about the good ol’ days, telling stories about cramming half my team in my two-door Ford Escort trying to get to practice or dance parties to MGMT or Earth, Wind & Fire in a random college parking lot. Or trying to explain that feeling of walking on to a field, getting to be an athlete and represent something larger than yourself.
That magic was gone now. But I’m a stubborn Southern girl. I can’t take that sitting down!
Two months after graduating college, I lost my mother to cancer. Four more months after that, I moved to Massachusetts with a small chihuahua named Odie, who literally walked into my life when he walked into my college house my senior year. I did AmeriCorps for two years but always dreamed of lacrosse, going to every game I could until I finally couldn’t take it anymore. It needed to be an even bigger part of my life than it was when I was in college. But how?
I never thought I could have a better feeling than stepping onto the field as a player, but that was until I stepped onto the field as a coach. My first year of coaching was not ideal, it didn’t seem fit. But my second year changed everything. I switched high schools and found the school that fit me. I was going to give up the sport that year until I got the phone call that I was hired at Reading Memorial High School.
My first team there went undefeated, and I still remember everything about that last game. It was raining and a little chilly. We were playing our rival, and we blew them out of the water. The end of that game offered me the feeling I was missing the most – the feeling of stepping onto the field was multiplied by the pride I had for each individual on my squad. And I could never let that go again.
So here I am, stringing in my own store with my name on the door of it. I’m working/waiting for the next season to roll around so I can stand on the sideline SCREAMING my well-timed jokes and puns at my girls to make sure it’s always a fun experience when they step out onto that field. And although my journey was different from most people in the sport, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way.