Senior Erin Magnuson was recently named the third 2021 Athena Award winner at Saint Paul Academy and Summit School. Presented to Saint Paul and suburban public and independent high schools every year since 1995, the Saint Paul Area Athena Award recognizes dedicated, inspiring and talented female student-athletes, a description that Magnuson fits to a T.
Since eighth grade, Magnuson has been on the Visitation varsity lacrosse team, formerly known as United Lacrosse, and is now serving as the team’s captain. While that alone is a great accomplishment, Magnuson is also captain of the United girls hockey team, which she has played on for all four years of high school. While the decision to stick with these sports comes from passion and love for the games, Magnuson’s parents had a large role in her introduction to the sports, which she is very grateful for.
“I got into both [sports] because my parents played. My mom played lacrosse and suggested [that I] try it, and my dad played hockey, so both my sister and I tried it [too]. I love the intensity of sports and the feeling of accomplishment when I do something well or reach a goal I have set for myself, which is why I really enjoy playing,” Magnuson said.
While Magnuson is a two-sport athlete, lacrosse is where her athletic ability truly shines. She has been playing lacrosse since fourth grade and as time has passed, her year-round club training, tournaments and regular high school seasons have helped Magnuson grow to be a standout player. Having only played four games in the season so far, Magnuson has scored nine goals, making her one of the team’s top scorers. In addition to her impressive performance this early in the season, she recently committed to playing division three lacrosse at Whitman College.
“I am really excited to play lacrosse [in] college and am super grateful to have a team to work with, especially since I am going so far away. I don’t have any intense goals, I just want to play hard, stay competitive, and have fun,” said Magnuson.
While Magnuson is proud of her official commitment, the recruitment process was not always easy. In her sophomore year of high school, Magnuson was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that causes serious damage to the small intestine when those affected eat gluten. Her diagnosis brought many changes to her life. In addition to making drastic adjustments to her diet, Magnuson lost a lot of playing time, as her symptoms weakened her performance. Yet, despite these challenges, college coaches were able to see her undeniable talent.
“My celiac diagnosis made lacrosse sophomore year really tough. I was at home sick a lot or at appointments and still played all of the games. I would sit out at practice a lot and my coaches had me rest up for games for a good amount of the season. Since we lost our junior year season to the pandemic, the only film I could send to coaches was the limited amount I had from when I was playing while sick,” said Magnuson.
While being named an Athena is an honor for any student-athlete, Magnuson finds special meaning in being a recipient. “Sports have made me competitive and driven and have definitely shaped my personality and who I am today,” Magnuson said. Without the lessons learned from countless victories and mistakes in her athletic career, Magnuson would not be the diligent, hardworking, and strong person she is today.
To read more about the Athena Award and its recipients, visit the St. Paul Athena Awards website.