How do you get on the campus SnapStory?
It’s a question that every member of the Boston College population has asked, whether to her peers, God, or herself. It’s a mystery that people have tried to solve by dancing on tables, taking obscure study breaks that also involve dancing on tables, or attempting (and failing) to do something remotely musical. Best friend duos have planned their toothbrushing time together to film it from in front of a mirror. Students have prolonged their nighttime studying to send in a selfie in front of Gasson at obscenely late times, and athletes have made sure to document their walks to practice at obscenely early times. Hardly anything seems to work.
So we’re left wondering, wracking our brains with that daily question of what we have to do or who we have to be to get on that damn Story.
There might be an answer to that second question: be Sarah Mannelly.
I asked Sarah Mannelly how she ends up on the BC SnapStory so often. She just looked up and laughed shyly, saying that there was an ongoing joke in the locker room that she actually ran it and that’s how she got on so often: twice, three times a day, which, to anyone wondering how to get on once, is a ridiculous amount.
It’s unfortunate that SnapStories disappear after 24 hours, because perhaps the best way to get a grasp on Sarah Mannelly is to watch those Stories. The extremely humble, slightly soft-spoken Sarah Mannelly who sat down with me was only a sliver of who she is. The rest is the Sarah Mannelly who dances around the locker room, leads silly team singalongs, and comes up with stupidly funny jokes—that’s the Sarah Mannelly who doesn’t just entertain the BC population for a few seconds, but fuels her teammates’ daily motivation, giving them both the energy and drive they need to be a successful team and program.
I knew Sarah Mannelly’s face when I came to BC because I saw her almost every day for two years during my freshman and sophomore years of high school in New Canaan, Conn. Say her name to anyone who lives in my small town or works at New Canaan High and he or she will know exactly who you’re talking about. Forget that she was an outstanding three-season athlete, which landed her name in many local headlines. She simply had a personality that made her well-known. She was funny, loud, and liked by everyone. Mannelly was the kind of person that you not only knew of, but wanted to get to know better. There are certain hometown, high school legends, and Sarah Mannelly was one of them.
I have one particularly vivid memory of Sarah Mannelly, and it involves a cape, a tricycle, and a microphone.
New Canaan High, per tradition, has a fall pep rally that falls at the end of Spirit Week in early October. It’s the last event of the week-long spirit-fest, right before the Homecoming football game. The goal is to get the student body’s school pride to its highest point.
The key to a successful pep rally, however, is not the students in the stands, or the sports teams that perform dances for the rest of the school, or the announcement of the Homecoming King and Queen. What makes a good pep rally are the emcees of the event: two students, a boy and a girl, are selected every year to be the hypemen for the day. They alone are responsible for bringing everyone together by putting on a show.
So on a Friday in October 2011, Sarah Mannelly tied on her cape, got on her tricycle, and rode on into the school gymnasium with 1,200 students waiting for her grand entrance.
This kind of ridiculousness wasn’t uncommon for Sarah Mannelly—it was what everyone knew her for. While her specific, individual actions were always unexpected, her comedic personality was not. Those who watched her and her emcee counterpart that day knew they were getting a show, but they didn’t know that they would be getting one that out-did any of the others in previous years. Mannelly said that herself before she went onto the pep rally stage, telling the NCHS Courant that she wanted to force energy out of the entire student body in a way no one else had done before. And she did. To this day, when I remember the NCHS pep rally emcees, my mind goes straight to Sarah Mannelly.
What made her such a high school legend is the same thing that makes her a staple on the lacrosse team. Athletic ability aside, she brings a character to the team that serves as motivation not just during games and on the field, but before and during practice, which can be awful. Since lacrosse is a heavy running sport, it requires a lot of practice doing laps—with that comes even more motivation. Training can be brutal, practices can be brutal. And the team’s mood before one of those practices can definitely be brutal. This is where Sarah Mannelly comes in.
Sarah Mannelly has created the team mentality that any tough conditioning is just like a run with your friends. Her mantra alleviates that feeling of impending pain that comes with knowing a hard workout is coming—it becomes nothing more than a good time, hanging out with your pals. She makes it seem easy, maybe even enjoyable. It lightens the mood before training and keeps the team in a good mental place.
“You never dread coming to practice,” said Kate Weeks, one of Sarah Mannelly’s best friends on the team. “She’s basically the light of the locker room. She just makes it better, she helps us love it even more.”
Thanks to the SnapStory, we can see glimpses of this, but Sarah Mannelly says that a lot of the locker room shenanigans aren’t caught on camera. Some of the best memories that she has made with the team, she said, have been the bus rides or airport trips. These are the times when the team lets loose, the “team clown,” as head coach Acacia Walker likes to call Sarah Mannelly, starting it all.
“I think everyone just feels comfortable with one another, being able to be goofy and whatnot,” Sarah Mannelly said. “Everyone’s very funny and loud so I think seeing me do the goofy things I do makes everyone else feel comfortable to follow and be themselves and laugh at everyone.”
Setting examples. That’s how Sarah Mannelly fulfills her leadership role on the team, whether that means being the first to break the ice in the locker room by cracking a joke, or performing on the field in the way that she did in the team’s final game of last year, against Loyola Maryland during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. It was also the game that would leave Sarah Mannelly with the most serious injury of her career.
The game wasn’t going well for the Eagles. At the half, the women had scored just two goals, and were down by six. After Loyola’s final goal before the end of the first period, you could tell that Sarah Mannelly was fed up.
But she wasn’t just fed up, she was fired up. She circled away from the Hounds’ celebration at the Eagles’ net, took a moment to remove her mouth guard, and then immediately looked for her team. She never showed any indication of defeat. Instead, her face read pure determination. She was ready to go.
And so she did. Sarah Mannelly sprinted, cutting between three defenders and crossing the goal, angling the ball into the back of the net. Moments later, she was weaving in and out of the Hounds once again, traversing the circle with short, instinctive steps, and spinning to avoid defenders. She found her opening and tricked out the keeper by bouncing the ball into the goal. In a matter of minutes, Sarah Mannelly scored three goals to bring the Eagles’ back within range of advancing to the next round of the tournament.
The team lost that range, however, and it lost Sarah Mannelly. The game went on to end with Loyola advancing to the next round, 19-12, and with Sarah Mannelly benched to end the season with a torn ACL.
“Before she got hurt, we were on the road up because she showed us that we weren’t done with that game,” Weeks said. “We were in it because Sarah Mannelly was geared up and ready to go.”
But regardless of either outcome, the game sticks out in Weeks’ mind as one of Sarah Mannelly’s most admirable. Despite the eventual loss, it was Sarah Mannelly who made the team get back on track in the second half, because seeing her turn it up a notch inspired the rest of the team to do the same. Even when she was forced to the sidelines, she tried to keep morale and incentive high.
And if Sarah Mannelly is geared up and ready to go, the rest of the team is, too. While Sarah Mannelly was sidelined with an injury that had the potential to take her out for months, Weeks remembers her trying to keep her teammates’ heads in the game. She never cried, never showed pain, and instead kept telling her team it had to still be in it to win it, just like she was still in it herself.
This is why Weeks calls Sarah Mannelly relentless.
Even in practice, Sarah Mannelly keeps up the same energy and shows the same strength. She’ll have two turnovers, Weeks said, and then she’ll immediately follow those up with three “phenomenal” plays. She doesn’t let mistakes get to her. Instead, she simply acts by another mantra of hers: just let it go. If she messes up, her teammates see her make up for it immediately. Sarah Mannelly is able to turn her game around as if the mistake never happened. She doesn’t quit.
“It’s because of what she does that makes everyone else want to do the same,” Weeks said. “ It makes us play up to her level and get to that extra gear.”
If Sarah Mannelly fights, then the rest of the team wants to fight, too. Her relentlessness inspires the whole team to do and be the same.
And that’s exactly what she wants. Because as much as Sarah Mannelly is relentless, she’s also selfless, Walker said.
Walker has witnessed this firsthand many times in her career with Sarah Mannelly. She recalled a specific play, in last year’s game against UNC. One of Sarah Mannelly’s teammates, a steady player according to Walker, had a couple of turnovers in the game. After one of them, Sarah Mannelly took notice and took action.
Walker described how she watched Sarah Mannelly chase down the North Carolina girl who had forced the BC turnover. She ran a full field-length of 100 yards back to the defensive end, checked the UNC player, and forced a turnover of her own to regain possession. She then sprinted back down the field, avoiding every UNC defender to rapidly cover the distance between herself and the UNC goal. But instead of going for the points, Sarah Mannelly found her teammate who had turned it over. Sarah Mannelly gave the ball right back to her and she scored.
Walker calls this her favorite play of all time. It’s for reasons like this, she says, that Sarah Mannelly’s teammates love her.
“She has the team goals in mind before any individual success,” Walker said. “She would any day rather make somebody else look good than make herself look good.”
Plays like this one solidify Sarah Mannelly’s leadership and justify her role as a captain. The combination of relentlessness and selflessness makes for a leader who goes out of her way to elevate her team. She raises herself to a higher standard in the process. This is what makes Mannelly such a good player: she focuses on her teammates and their success more than her own.
“Her teammates love her,” Walker said. “And they play hard for her.”
She even devoted her Tewaaraton Award finalist achievement to her team, deflecting the personal successes that got her to be the first Eagle nominated for women’s lacrosse’s highest honor.
“It was an honor to be represented and have my name on it,” Sarah Mannelly said. “But I think ultimately it was just a testament to the team’s season and the success that we had. I think we’re all happy to share that honor.”
And she may get to share the honor again this year since she, along with teammates Caroline Margolis and Kenzie Kent, is on the Tewaaraton Award watchlist for this upcoming season.
In which case, keep an eye out for Sarah Mannelly on the BC SnapStory. In between her pre-practice locker room entertainment and her runs with friends, she and her teammates may just be holding up a trophy or two.