Cas Szwajkowski on Finding Her Role On and Off the Field
(Photo taken from Skidmore Athletics website)
In the game against RIT, Skidmore women’s lacrosse player Cas Szwajkowski (attack) has proved once again that she is one of the best players in the Liberty League. In this game, she became Skidmore’s all-time leader in goals (193) and the leader of goals scored in a singular game (9). The previous record was held by one of her previous teammates, Tyler Phillips ‘17, who tallied 189 points.
Lacrosse wasn’t always on the mind of the senior — only becoming a thought in the seventh grade. Szwajkowski attended a boarding school that required students to participate in three seasons of athletics. She took up soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse. Though she initially wanted to go to school for hockey, Szwajkowski realized she’d have more options playing lacrosse and decided to trade in her hockey stick for a lacrosse one.
Yet she never forgets her days as a hockey player and says that hockey made it easier for her to get into lacrosse. “I think i’m more adaptable because I played hockey. I don’t necessarily have good lacrosse skills — like actual technical skills — I’m a bit of a different player.”
This adaptability proved useful as Szwajkowski became a breakout player her freshman year. Playing in all eighteen games and starting in sixteen of them her first year, Szwajkowski was second on the team in scoring, with 50 goals and two assists for 52 points. She was also fifth in the Liberty League with 2.78 goals per game.
Now, Szwajkowski has several Liberty League honor roll mentions, including All-Liberty League First team and IWLCA All-Empire Region first team.
However, none of those titles matter to her as she steps out on the field. Szwajkowski shared that she doesn’t play her best when she is thinking about scoring. “I play best when I don’t think at all. When I’m thinking, I have really bad games — like if i’m thinking about ‘oh I need to score’ — and even thinking about where to place my shot. I try to go out there with a clean slate. The best games happen when you black everything out.”
When asked if she knew she was going to break the record, Szwajkowski said that she knew she was a couple goals away from the record, but never thought it would actually happen. “I wanted to break it that weekend. I was six goals away, and I could get six goals in a game but that’d be pushing it, that would be a great game.”
But that did not stop her and Szwajkowski scored nine goals in the game, tying the program record. “My family was here and they don’t come to games that often. It was going to be my last home game for the next two weeks, so I just got into go mode.”
Surprisingly, this is not her favorite moment playing lacrosse at Skidmore. The two year captain recalls that her best moment at Skidmore came during freshman year when her team beat Union in overtime. “All my best moments are after big wins with the team. Freshman year when we beat Union, who was our biggest rival at the time, was pretty awesome. It was a big game for the seniors who had never beaten Union during their time here. We played Union in the semi-final, and we just went out there and beat them by one.”
She further added, nonchalantly, “I scored the game winner in over-time and that was a really good moment to see that come full circle for them.” This would bring the team to the Liberty League Championships.
Szwajkowski and the rest of the lax team now have their eyes set on winning the Liberty League championships: “This year we should definitely beat them, I have no doubt in my mind. We have the skill, the mindset, and the cohesion to beat who ever we play. It’s all about bringing all of that together and not being scared of them.”
Besides the LL championship title, Szwajkowski also wants to beat William Smith, who the team will be playing for their senior meet. “We have lost to William Smith in the semi-finals every year, and that’s going to be my last Liberty League game ever, so beating them is something I want to see happen. That’s what i’m looking forward to this season. This is the first time we have been nationally ranked, this is our chance.”
The one piece of advice that Szwajkowski would give is to find your role in life. “Find what sets you apart from someone else. In lacrosse, even if you are not the best player, find something that is going to make you worthy of playing on that field above someone else. In the business sense when you are on the team, think about what role you play. Cause you can’t do it all. Find your role and stick with it.” Szwajkowski said she had trouble with this when she was younger, but quickly realized she couldn’t do everything. “You can’t become the best version of yourself when you try to do everything.”
Szwajkowski says that the most surprising thing about being a senior is that even though she has had diverse experiences at Skidmore, the one thing that is going to be hard to let go of is the sport she has dedicated 10 years of her life to. “It’s all culminating and I feel like i’ve done all I can here and now I just got to go out and do it. It’s kind of crazy how I’m not going to be playing lacrosse anymore. I think that’s the part i’m going to be really sad about. Not being on a team or exercising. Maybe I’ll play tennis afterwards.”