Beloved tradition hops into postseason with Park City’s girls lacrosse team
Miners advance to state quarterfinals after 25-0 over Springville
Nobody knows where Karen came from. Legend has it that she’s as old as the Park City girls lacrosse program.
Karen doesn’t have a number. She doesn’t have a designated position. There isn’t even a Karen on the Park City roster.
Karen is a stuffed rabbit.
Yet, she plays an important role in the Park City girls lacrosse program. Karen is given to the MVP of each game, and it’s a tradition that’s lasted a long time.
“Next gameday, at school, they wear high pigtails, the headband that says ‘Karen’ and carry the stuffed animal around basically just to show everyone that they’re MVP,” senior Sam Riely said.
“She’s a little bunny, and they literally wear her at school,” Park City coach Mikki Clayton added.
Riely said that the captains will give out Karen first, but after that, whoever has Karen will choose whom to give it to next. The team makes sure that everyone has the opportunity to spend some time with Karen.
“Everyone has to get a little embarrassed at school,” Riely said. “Everybody gets to have the Karen joy, so it’s fun.”
Riely received Karen for the first time as a freshman when the team captains gave it to her after scoring a pair of goals against Brighton. Over the last four years, Riely has come to embrace the tradition.
“If they break the tradition, I would be super upset, but they won’t,” Riely said. “I think whoever would break the tradition would be really guilty.”
Park City dismantled Springville 25-0 on Thursday to advance to the state quarterfinals. The top-seeded, undefeated Miners will face No. 8 Woods Cross on Saturday at Dozier Field at 1 p.m.
Riely led the Miners with six points off three goals and three assists, while junior Lilly Hunt had a team-high five goals. Sophomore Charlie Iacobelli and freshman Rogan Crawford also had hat tricks. Park City led 17-0 at halftime.
After defeating Springville, Karen was given to freshman Morgan Heavrin for the first time.
“It’s kind of exciting,” Heavrin said. “It’s motivation for the next game to play harder knowing that you played amazing the day before.”
Heavrin played in her first playoff game on Thursday and had some nerves. But the butterflies went away once the game started.
“I played my best throughout the whole game and just gave it my all,” she said. “Even though I had my mess-ups, I still persevered and fought hard to the end.”
Heavrin usually plays defense, but she played out of position at attack against Springville. Clayton praised the freshman’s play in her playoff debut.
“That is definitely something that is difficult to do,” she said. “She worked the ball well on the attacking end and was looking for her teammates. That was her Karen move.”
Clayton is supportive of the team’s Karen tradition, even if it took some time to get used to.
“It was definitely a surprise the first time I was coaching, and Karen just appeared after the game,” Clayton said. “But it means a lot to the girls. It’s definitely a big part of their team bonding to dress up silly the next day. And they all give it to each other, so everyone has the opportunity to have it once. So, it’s great team bonding, it’s a great tradition, and we love our little Karen bunny.
“We have no idea how long it’s been around, but it’s been a very long time, so the Karen tradition lives on.”
After years of use, Karen is starting to show her age a little bit. Every year, the team adds something new, like shoes during Riely’s freshman year or a pin or this year’s addition of a new headband. But every addition also symbolizes how much Park City’s girls lacrosse program has grown as the years have gone by.
“Definitely staying together as a team, and we’re really spreading around being teammates and being nice to each other,” Riely said. “We take pictures of each other at school when we have it.”
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