“Tenacity has shown me that no matter if you win or lose, your “family” is always going to be there to support you and cheer you on. This sport has taught me that every position played is important and that we are all doing this together. I can always count on every single player on and off the field.”
Gaby Navarro is one tough cookie. This summer, she commuted from San Mateo to Atherton mainly by bus and longboard, although sometimes she got rides from other Tenacity families. Imagine longboarding with your stick and cleats. Now imagine doing it with all of your goalie equipment and you’ll have an idea of Gaby’s challenge. But Gaby never really thought of it as a challenge. To her it was kind of, well, fun.
When I asked Coach Dana Kilsby about Gaby, she said that she’s an “outgoing and hilarious individual who directs her teammates with authority and humor from the goal. Her Peninsula High School team was a family after just a few practices together and she just made it closer. During the Tahoe tournament she jumped in and helped several other Tenacity teams who were missing a goalie without complaint or hesitation. Each team she joined gave raving reviews of her goalie skills as well as her shining personality. You would never know from the way she carries herself at practices that there was any hardship happening at home.”
I had a chance to ask Gaby about her love of the game, her commute, and some of the other obstacles she’s faced. She responded with answers straight from the heart, just as I’d expect from everything I’d heard about her.
How did you start playing lacrosse? And why goalie?
I started lacrosse after playing softball. I felt like I needed to do something different, something that would teach me discipline and I wanted a sport that was more aggressive. I noticed my high school had a lacrosse team and I signed right up! During tryouts the coach said, “We are going to have two people tryout for goalie every day, and if no one volunteers, everyone is going to try.” At first I thought, “I have strong arms, I can probably chuck it across the field.” So I tried out and blocked every shot my first day! I felt like it was a good position for me, so I stuck with it!
I understand from your coaches that you put in quite a bit of effort to get to practice. Will you tell us a little about your commute and how you motivate to go the extra mile everyday?
It was ten miles from school to Tenacity, which was a really big trek, so I would often use the bus and skate the rest of the way—about two miles—but that never stopped me. I love longboarding! It’s how I get around and a great hobby I’ve had since I was little. I didn’t need motivation because I was doing what I love!
Do you think of yourself as pretty independent? Because I think it takes a confident and independent young woman to make that push rather than relying on parents or siblings or even a carpool to get to practice.
Well, growing up, my life consisted of watching after my mom. My dad worked and only came home for dinner and sleep. I was raised being a parent and I am alright with that! Yes, I would like to think of myself as independent. It is a wonderful trait to have and it gives me an idea of reality before I face it.
Has that commute ever been an obstacle for you? Any other obstacles you’ve overcome to get out on the field, or to pursue your other passions?
YES! If I were to miss a bus, my fear was immediately that I’d be late. But that wasn’t the only obstacle. In the middle of the season, my family was going through a difficult time with unemployment. I had three jobs at the time and felt like lacrosse wasn’t a priority, but after a talk with some of my coaches, they convinced me to stay on the team. I could use lacrosse as an outlet from all the stress.
You mentioned that you have dance, choir and band this fall. How do you balance all of your commitments?
Choir and band are both classes in my school, and the times of concerts are different, so it works easily. Dance is after school every week day, besides Wednesday, and Friday is our performance. When two or more overlap, I have to make a decision on priorities, as in how important is this upcoming football game? Or how often do I have a concert? Will it be worth it?
Do you see your love of dance and music as working in tandem with lacrosse, or do the those pursuits ever seem at odds with each other? Some people think of art and sports as in two separate camps, but I’d like to think that they create an interesting dynamic.
I agree with you that all of them create an interesting dynamic, I don’t think any of them are at odds—I see all of them as hobbies and things I am good at. Things I love. I will put 110% in for all of them.
On the other hand, what does lacrosse, particularly playing for a club team this summer, bring to your life that isn’t really replicated by anything else?
Tenacity has shown me that no matter if you win or lose, your “family” is always going to be there to support you and cheer you on. This sport has taught me that every position played is important and that we are all doing this together. I can always count on every single player on and off the field.
What’s the biggest challenge of playing goalie? And how do you deal with it mentally?
The biggest challenge is to keep up the positivity even if we are losing. If we’re down by five points and I’m whacking my stick on the ground after a shot, my negativity will spread on the field. Me losing hope would psych the whole team out. If we lose and all I think about is, “If only I would have got that one save,” I would be a very depressed goalie! One tip for all goalies to remember after a goal is that the ball went through eleven people before it got to you. It is not all your fault. Lacrosse is not a one person sport, so why blame it on one person?
Any favorite lacrosse memories, on or off the field? Favorite saves?
One of my favorite memories is our “spirit weeks.” We had practice every week and every week we had a theme, superhero day to just plain wacky day. Every week I looked forward to something. And I loved getting on the public bus in a Marine suit and getting stared at 🙂
How do you get yourself pumped up for a game?
A little tradition I do to pump myself up is to remind myself that I am doing this because I love the sport, I love my family I have made on this team, and I will give 110% because I worked hard for this moment, and I am going to do the best I can, and if we lose, I will know I lost giving it my all, instead of losing and knowing I didn’t care or slacked off.
Written By: Courtney Bird
September 15th, 2016