Lacrosse leader: West Forsyth’s Leah Meyers is a friend on, off the field

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

Leah Meyers was an attacker and offensive stalwart for the West Forsyth girls lacrosse team, but she didn’t even pick up the sport until middle school.

However, Meyers, who just graduated from West Forsyth on Saturday, led the team this past season with 49 goals.

Despite her offensive prowess and being named a captain for the Titans this past spring, helping them to an overall record of 19-3 and 10-2 in the Central Piedmont 4-A, she credits the introduction of the sport to her friend.

“Actually, my friend, Brooklyn Fox, she introduced me to lacrosse,” Meyers said.

Fox graduated from West Forsyth last year and originally signed to play in college at Lenoir-Rhyne but transferred to Rollins College in Florida after one semester. Fox’s sister, Bailey, is also on the lacrosse team for the Titans and is a rising senior.

“I think I started in seventh grade,” Meyers said. “And her sister, Bailey, played, and they needed more people on the team. So, me and Brooklyn went and played so she could have enough people for her team.”

Being introduced to lacrosse all came about because she and Brooklyn Fox competed together in another sport.

“I had done gymnastics for like a really long time, and me and Brooklyn actually did that together,” Meyers said. “We quit. So, then we were looking for another sport to do, so it ended up being lacrosse. It just worked out.”

Gymnastics just became too burdensome for Meyers.

“It just got too difficult,” she said. “It was just like a lot on the body. It was just a lot of time. It was six days a week for like four hours. And it was a big time consumer.”

Deciding to play lacrosse is one thing, but stepping on the field for the first time is another.

“I had no idea what the rules were,” Meyers said. “I was so nervous the first time I stepped on that field. I had never played a field sport, so it was just gymnastics, which is like (the) opposite of lacrosse.”

Meyers liked playing lacrosse. She also enjoyed being with her friends.

“Once I started playing in seventh grade, I definitely knew that I liked it,” Meyers said. “I really just like fell in love with lacrosse. I knew in high school that I would like to play it.”

Coming into high school can be challenging for any student, let alone a student-athlete.

“I knew a lot of people on the team,” Meyers said. “So, I was very comfortable with playing. With lacrosse, it’s not a very popular sport, so going to West, I basically knew everybody because you know everybody that plays lacrosse.”

Doug Brawley, the head coach for the girls lacrosse team at West Forsyth, didn’t know of Meyers until she entered high school.

“The first time I met her was her freshman year,” Brawley said. “She tried out and was on the JV team her freshman year, and while I contribute and help, 99 percent of my time is with (the) varsity. So, I watch them during the game, pick up things here and there.”

Meyers played on the JV team during her freshman season at West Forsyth, but COVID-19 halted the season after just four games. However, Meyers used that time as a silver lining. She started running with her family to pass the time.

“I felt like I could keep up with the players even if I didn’t know the rules,” she said. “I could at least run with them and try to stay up with them.”

All of that aerobic activity must’ve worked for Meyers. Once it was announced that girls lacrosse would come back in the spring of 2021 with a shortened season, she was ready to go.

“It was so nice, After having like COVID, where you were just stuck inside, it was nice to be around people and your team,” she said. “It was very comforting.”

Meyers could sense that she was getting better. Her coaches even saw her improvement.

“It’s not always just the best stick that goes to varsity,” Brawley said. “It’s the needs of the team. It’s your attitude, your effort, your ability. You know, there’s so much more than just saying we’re going to put the best person out there. It’s the best fit. And Leah’s always, I mean, by her sophomore year, she was on varsity.

“Last year, (she) got conference offensive player of the year and was all-conference again this year, too.”

Her teammates even chose her as a captain before her senior season.

“It just shows the respect that her teammates have for her and the leadership that she brings every day,” Brawley said. “She’s always in a good mood. She never complained about anything I asked them to do. Whether it was run after practice or do drills over and over, she did them. And, obviously, it pays off.”

The awards were well deserved for Meyers. She finished this past season with 49 goals, the most on the team, and she finished tied for third in assists with nine.

“She plays attack on the offensive end,” Brawley said. “She has filled in for us on the rest of the field and on defense. Her strength was on the offensive end. And the offensive end is so much about moving the ball faster than the defense can adjust. So, you have to play with your head up. You have to play knowing where your teammates are. Are you in the right position? There’s a lot of things to keep up with, and that stuff she thrived on.”

After the season, Meyers was named Third-Team All-State Offense by the N.C. Lacrosse Coaches Association. In addition, teammates Alivia Gurley and Bailey Fox made third team.

“I was really excited to learn that I was all-state,” Meyers said. “I never thought I would do as well as I did at West or in high school. The coaches were always so motivating and encouraging. It made me always try my hardest.”

Meyers helped the Titans to a record of 12-1 and 10-0 in the conference her sophomore year, and in her junior year, she led them to an overall record of 18-3, including 11-1 in the conference.

“Our team last year, we were very good,” Meyers said. “I just think the main thing my junior year is everybody knew each other, knew how we played. So, we were just able to work very well together last year.

Last year, two of West Forsyth’s three losses were to Reynolds. West Forsyth’s other loss was in the NCHSAA playoffs against Charlotte Myers Park. This past season, once again.

“I think the main thing beating Reynolds comes down to mindset,” Meyers said. “I think everybody is like, they know it’s the biggest competition. They know the hardest game we’re going to play this season. So, everybody gets really nervous, and once I think we can get over the nervousness, then we’d be able to beat them.”

Reynolds beat West Forsyth twice — 12-11 and 9-8. The two were slated to play in the Central Piedmont 4-A tournament championship game, but because of the weather, the game was canceled. The other loss was in the third round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs — a 21-2 loss against Charlotte Catholic. Charlotte Catholic lost to Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons 15-11 in the NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship.

“It’s tough,” Meyers said of playing Charlotte Catholic. “Like, they are just so much better athletes, Like, they’re just good. They run faster. They shoot harder. It is so hard to compete against them.”

In addition to losing to Charlotte Catholic, it was also Meyers’ last game in a Titans uniform.

“Walking off the field, I wasn’t expecting to win,” Meyers said. “But it was just more upsetting because I thought we could’ve played a little bit better against them. But they just came hard.

“…Honestly, playing Catholic wasn’t as sad because we weren’t playing at home.”

In addition to Meyers, Brawley said the Titans are also losing four other starters to graduation.

“I’m losing five starters out of 12,” Brawley said. “I think we’ll definitely be able to fill the positions they play, but the question is, does the depth, does the second and third line and midfields, are they developed by next year? Or are they showing up as freshmen with the skills needed to play at the varsity level? Or are we running one line of midfield, getting exhausted and having trouble keeping up in long, close games?”

Despite her great stats this past season, Meyers is hanging up her stick competitively. She’s entering UNC Charlotte in August with hopes of being a nurse. However, she might play club lacrosse there.

“My son played in college, and I realized first-hand that it’s a full-time job,” Brawley said. “Going to college itself is a full-time job. And when you’re doing that, it requires a huge commitment and a huge amount of sacrifice on the part of the student-athlete. And so, it’s definitely not for everyone. I definitely think she could play at the college level, but a lot of people, it’s just, they’ve decided to move on to the next phase of life.”

Although she hasn’t decided which nursing field she wants to get in, Meyers said she’s been thinking about sports medicine.

“I just enjoy helping people,” Meyers said. “Like, my aunt’s a nurse, and a lot of my family is in the medical field, extended family, not my immediate family. It’s interesting. I learned from her, and I just enjoy helping people and making people happy.”

Although Meyers will not play lacrosse in college, she knows how important the sport has been to her.

“It made me find my friends,” she said. “All of my friends are on that team, all of my close friends. It’s a place where I could just like de-stress and just comfortable, be myself.”