Nicole Tiernan received a phone call from coach Bonnie Rosen on Easter Sunday.
The Owls played Georgetown on the road the day before, where Tiernan recorded her fourth hat trick of the season.
Despite it being a 13–6 loss for Temple, the sophomore midfielder’s performance caught the attention of Georgetown coach Ricky Fried, who doubles as the coach for the United States National Team.
“Bonnie called me on Easter and said that Ricky was wondering if I would be interested in trying out,” Tiernan said. “That was the last day to sign up. So, I signed up, I paid the fee, I signed up for the membership and everything, and a few weeks later they emailed back and confirmed that I was selected to try out.”
Tiernan’s first action was to find her family to share the good news.
“I ran upstairs and told my parents and we all started crying in a huge group hug,” Tiernan said. “It’s such an honor to be even asked to try out. It’s a huge experience. The U.S. team is as great an experience as you can get. It was huge for me and my family.”
But the celebration was quick, as there was little layoff for Tiernan after the season ended.
“I took one or two days off and then I just went right into training,” Tiernan said.
She hit the weight room, working with assistant strength and condition coach Clare Kaufman, and kept working on her on the field skills
She maintained her commitment after finals ended, making the half-hour drive from her home in Washington Township, N.J. back up to campus to continue training, joined by other teammates.
“Nicole’s commitment to training was what elite athletes do,” Rosen said. “I have never seen her more driven to train. Just like the rest of the returners, the summer training program began after finals, but Nicole made it a point to be back at Temple to train in the weight room and condition with the strength and conditioning staff.”
“The best part about it all was that her sister Megan was with her every step of the way,” Rosen added. “Megan trained right alongside, pushing Nicole to work even harder.”
Tiernan left for Georgetown on Thursday night, with tryouts kicking off the day after and lasting throughout the weekend. It was an experience she thought was only achievable for a select few.
“I didn’t think this was attainable for anyone outside of the Northwest and Maryland. Places like Syracuse,” Tiernan said. “I didn’t know this was an experience that I would even have an opportunity to have, so being able to try out I was just overjoyed.”
“It was very, very hard,” Tiernan said of the tryouts. “But I had a great time. I learned a lot. There are so many really experienced and really smart players there. There are veterans and then there were new people, a lot of young girls like me, and it was a great opportunity for me to try out and I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity it was very difficult but I had a great time.”
Out of a field of 84 players from all over, only 36 to 40 of them were selected to the national team roster, where only 18 will go on to represent the country in 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup in England from there.
Tiernan wasn’t one of them, but she is okay with that right now.
“Realistically, playing against all the other girls, I didn’t think I had a shot at making it,” Tiernan said. “But I’ve learned so much from the experience, to be able to play with the best players in the world.”
“The U.S. is a powerhouse,” Tiernan added. “And to be able to play with the best players on that team is just such a great experience to me. I was so glad to be able to do it.”
The chance would still have come along somewhere down the line, but Rosen believes that it might have been better for Tiernan to try now.
“Had [Fried] not asked me about whether Nicole was putting her name in for tryouts, I would not have pushed Nicole to try out,” Rosen said. “I would have encouraged her to try out in a year or two.”
“I am glad he said something,” Rosen added. “I think the process of going after this opportunity has opened Nicole’s eyes up to what is truly possible. I also know that Megan too now sees the bigger dreams that can come true.”
Tiernan hopes to take another shot at making the team. If not to gain more experience in her college career, which currently has her building off a strong sophomore season with 29 goals, four assists and 13 caused turnovers in her 16 games, then to chase one of her ultimate goals.
Nick Tricome can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @itssnick215.