For many athletes, you know you’ve arrived when you have been invited to attend the ESPYs. For Alex Aust, WPLL Pride athlete, it was a dream come true to meet and interact with other sports icons from around the world. It was a signal to not only the lacrosse world, but the sports world as a whole that the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League had arrived.
Alex Aust: WPLL Star
“To me, the ESPYs growing up was like, ‘That’s my realm of celebrity status.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love my fair share of pop culture, but I am a sports rat. Seeing Dwight Howard, Megan Rapinoe, Drew Brees and Dwayne Wade — those are my celebrities. It was really cool. I felt like a little kid again,” said Aust.
Aust continued, “The second part of that was a cool revelation I had with myself that I deserved to be here. That was really wild. It was kind of like ‘OK, I am a professional lacrosse player, that’s why I’m here at the ESPYs.’ It is an award show that is showcasing athletic talent so lacrosse should be at the ESPYs every year. It was really kind of a cool revelation to myself that this is awesome to be paving the way for lacrosse at such a great time in our sport, but also to be paving the way for females in general.”
While that may have been one of the most recognizable events to the casual sports fan that Alex Aust has attended, it certainly was not the most significant.
Aust not only has been incredibly successful at the collegiate level at the University of Maryland and professionally with the WPLL, but has won a gold medal with Team USA at the women’s world cup in 2017 in London, England.
“The world cup to me was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had, not even in lacrosse, but in my entire life. I’ve done a little bit of traveling and coaching in other countries, but once I was wearing that USA jersey, it kind of hit me that the rest of the world looks at us as an example and like celebrities. It was really cool to be surrounded by these other countries that are fighting so hard to get their sport to our level, but really look to us to lead the way,” Aust said.
This experience made Alex Aust appreciate just how lucky she was to grow up in a hotbed area of lacrosse and have the resources that she did.
“You kind of take lacrosse for granted in the U.S., especially living on the East Coast and myself living in Baltimore, because it’s so saturated and there is so much education, coaching and training. You really realize how much lacrosse has room to grow.”
Alex Aust’s experience started in fourth grade at a tiny private school in Northern Virginia. She played recreationally up until high school, when she realized this sport was something she could really excel at and play at the next level. Aust — a multi-sport athlete that also considered playing basketball in college — decided to play lacrosse at the collegiate level her junior year of high school when she committed to Maryland.
Aust says her four years at Maryland were “the best four years of my life.” Aust continued, “I knew I wanted to play in the ACC. It was between Maryland and UNC for me, which is a pretty common story for girls that want that big school.”
Now, Aust plays in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League for the WPLL Pride — a league that launched in 2018.
“It’s honestly been really rewarding. It’s been awesome to continue to play. Any day I’m on the lacrosse field, it’s a great day for me.” said Aust. “Being 28 years old and being able to play with girls just graduating from college is really, really cool, especially because we had three girls from Maryland on our team this summer. For me, being able to watch them win a national championship and then be on the same field of them makes me so proud to be an alumni. On the other side of that coin, it’s been really awesome playing with the girls I played against in college. I kind of got used to doing that on the U.S. team. It’s really a cool feeling to go from being these arch-enemies to working towards a similar goal.”
Aust emphasized that there’s more to the experience than just playing lacrosse.
“What’s more important than actually playing, though, is being able to reach these young female lacrosse fans. That’s my biggest thing. To me, it’s super important that we have the visibility of the WPLL and have it on ESPN3, so that the girls on my club team can watch us play and see these high level athletes and hopefully in 15 years see them on these teams, which would be really, really cool,” Aust said.
Amidst Alex Aust’s busy schedule, she also makes an effort to support the Give & Go Foundation — a charity designed to grow the game of lacrosse internationally that was co-founded by Premier Lacrosse League players Adam Ghitelman and Scott Ratliff — through volunteering as a coach and traveling across the world to spread the game.
“For me, some of the most rewarding things about working with the Give & Go Foundation are not just giving a stick to someone, but giving the game of lacrosse and seeing that twinkle of inspiration in their eyes that I had in the fourth grade,” Aust described.
“We take these things for granted, like simple fundamentals or maybe even a silly stick trick. To see people so appreciative of the knowledge is just such a unique gift that the Give & Go Foundation has given me and others. It’s our duty, since we are professionals, to share the game. Lacrosse to me has not just taught me how to be a great shooter or become stronger and faster, but has taught me so many life lessons that I really want other people to find those kinds of positive outlets.”
DONATE TO THE GIVE & GO FOUNDATION TODAY BY VISITING THE GIVE & GO WEBSITE AT THIS ADDRESS: https://givegofund.com/
Alex Aust also shared a personal experience as to why she can relate to the mission of the Give & Go Foundation so well.
“The foundation’s message has really hit home for me because I’m a first-generation American. My mom is from Thailand, born and raised, and came over here when she was 15 and had all of us. So, culturally we’ve always spent our summers in underdeveloped countries. My mom grew up in a village and they didn’t have any other sports besides soccer. To go to countries that don’t have that same accessibility is so important because it takes myself out of my own life here in Baltimore and America, but then it also allows me to give the game down to someone else, which will hopefully trickle down to other people as well.”
Because Aust believes in the mission of the Give & Go Foundation, she encourages everyone who can to be involved and help grow the sport of lacrosse worldwide.
“There’s so many opportunities. The great part about Give & Go is that it’s non-profit. As far as being able to help, it can be something as simple as a $10 donation that can provide a meal someone who is traveling to coach. Donating equipment is huge. Obviously, that costs no money at all. It’s just spreading awareness about the organization. Once people learn about Give & Go and what we are trying to accomplish, they are more likely to get involved and help us grow.”