When Cassandra Minerd looked around at the Tewaaraton Award Ceremony, she was in awe, as she was in the same room with the best players in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.
"It was awesome, I was a little bit star-struck," Minerd, a senior on the girls lacrosse team at Lafayette High School, says. "It was amazing to be with athletes such as Rob Pannell and Kara Canizzaro, and the whole All-American team. It was a great experience, I loved it."
Minerd accepted the 2013 Tewaaraton Native American Scholarship during the same ceremony that Rob Pannell of Cornell and Katie Schwarzmann of Maryland won the Tewaaraton Awards as the best NCAA Division I lacrosse players. Minerd was able to spend two days with Pannell, Schwarzmann and the rest of the player of the year finalists.
To win the award, Minerd sent in a 3-page essay, keep up her grades and be a Native American lacrosse player. She also had to get recommendation letters from her teachers at Lafayette. The support she received in garnering the award is the theme at Lafayette for Minerd, as she says it is that support which allows her to succeed.
"They try talking in my language and imitating my accent which is great, and I feel loved down here. The lacrosse team as well as the rest of the community is very supportive," she says.
Minerd has lacrosse in her blood, saying she looks up to her cousins, one of which is Trenna Hill, who also went to Lafayette High School and won the same award as Minerd in 2009. Hill now plays lacrosse at Syracuse University.
Minerd's family lacrosse dynasty does not stop at Hill, brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson and their cousin Ty Thompson all play lacrosse at Division I Albany, all of which are cousins of Minerd's. Minerd was there when Albany defeated the National Championship game bound Syracuse University lacrosse team in the Carrier Dome this season. Lyle Thompson was the first Native American to be named a Tewaaraton Finalist this season, allowing both Thompson and Minerd to attend the ceremony together on Thursday.
In addition to having a skilled lacrosse family, Minerd says there's a weight on her shoulders perform in the sport as a Native American, and perform well.
"It's a great deal of pressure representing my nation and people in lacrosse," she says. "This is our sport, and I will always try my best because this is a sport that our people brought to everyone. My cousins are both great athletes so I also look up to them."
Minerd plans on attending The College at Brockport in the fall and will play lacrosse, while studying Recreation and Leisure Studies. She says she wants to be an event planner in the future.