Gabriel Lazer-focused on next steps

·3 min read

When local lacrosse phenom Ava Weriasanoron Gabriel toured Onondaga Community College in Syracuse over the weekend, one feature stuck out to her most.

“The field was most memorable, just thinking that it will be a second home, in a way,” she said.

“It’s the first time I’ll be moving away from home. It will be different, but I’m excited to be somewhere else and see what it’s like.”

Come August, Gabriel will be relocating to Syracuse to study business at the college, where she will play with the Onondaga Lazers women’s lacrosse team.

“I wanted to continue playing lacrosse after high school,” said Gabriel, who caught one of the women’s lacrosse games while she was visiting the college. “Onondaga gave me that opportunity to continue playing. I’m very excited to be going there, and I hope to continue playing in university after being there.”

While moving away for school is never an easy transition, Gabriel will be able to stay with her aunt, located only 10 minutes from the school. It’s an arrangement that will also bring comfort to Gabriel’s mother, Andrea Kanerahtakwas Nelson.

“She’s our only girl, so it’s always hard to cut the umbilical cord,” said Nelson, who also visited the school. “I’m fine. It’s my sister she’s going to stay with, so she’s in good hands.”

Nelson was pleased to discover on the tour that academics are taken seriously by team coaches, with study halls a regular occurrence for the players.

“I think it’s what she needs now. It’s the next step,” said Nelson.

“I think it’s the perfect timing for her to play at that level,” agreed Norman Cedilotte, president of St. Eustache Lacrosse and manager of the Team Quebec field lacrosse team, one of the teams with which Gabriel plays.

Cedilotte has seen Gabriel develop as a player over the past five years and believes competing at a US school will give her the chance to continue to hone her talents in a new environment.

“At that type of level, there’s so much support, so it’s really an incredible opportunity she has to further her growth,” he said, noting the knowledge of coaches in the US college system.

While Gabriel expects to benefit from the experience, Cedilotte believes Gabriel will be an asset to the Lazers in return.

“She’s calm, she’s strong, she’s a great leader as a person,” he said.

“I think a lot of students, a lot of players are going to look at her and say this is somebody I’d like to be like.”

While Gabriel is looking forward to her next adventure, she still has a lot of lacrosse ahead of her this summer.

“I want to help out my team and have a successful season of lacrosse,” said Gabriel. “I hope to learn new skills and different things to help me be a better player and teammate.”

Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door