By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
In the midst of another dominating and undefeated Hockomock League season by the Franklin girls’ lacrosse team, the coaches gathered and chose senior midfielder Marta Versprille as the league’s MVP. Four years ago, another Versprille was honored with the same award — Marta’s sister Anne.
“It meant so much to me to be named Hock MVP,” said Marta shortly after the season ended. “Many girls in the league are deserving of the title, especially a number of my teammates. I think it really could’ve gone to anyone this year and I’m honored to be chosen.”
The two sisters can actually thank the middle sibling, their brother Jake, for beginning the family’s fascination with lacrosse. Jake and his cousin Sam were the first to pick up the sport in elementary school, the year that Franklin began a town league. It wasn’t until a few years later that Anne and Marta also had a league to join and they were instantly hooked as well.
“Once I started playing, I loved it,” said Anne by email. “We always played a lot in the backyard together, and we still do. We have a small backyard so maybe that helped us with our stick skills a little bit — after a few broken windows.”
Jake, who just completed his sophomore season on the Springfield College men’s lacrosse team, added, “As much as my mom tries to avoid the subject at the dinner table, it seems like we always end up talking about lacrosse. Whether it’s a game in general, or specific plays of match ups and whatnot we always try to help one another out.”
The long hours of playing in the backyard translated to success on the field. Anne was part of a Franklin team that started a run of domination in the Hockomock. Since her final season in 2010, the Panthers have gone 57-1 in the league (the lone loss was 11-10 to King Philip in 2012, according to former coach Chris Schmidt).
This season was arguably the best in the program’s history. With Marta, who was named HockomockSports.com Player of the Year for the second season in a row (the first player to do so), leading the way as the “do-everything midfielder,” according to head coach Kristin Igoe, the Panthers capped a perfect league season by winning the team’s first sectional title (in the most dramatic way imaginable).
Marta’s success on the field has come as no surprise to her family members.
“Anne and I always said that Marta would end up being the best individual player, and right now it looks like she is,” said Jake. “I can definitely see Marta making a huge impact, if not an immediate impact going into her freshman year [of college].”
Anne was on the sidelines as the Panthers made their run through the playoffs. Although she says that she tried to avoid giving too much advice, Anne was proud both as a Franklin girls’ lax alum and as an older sister.
She explained, “It’s really fun to watch your siblings work hard and succeed at something you know they love to do. They both work really hard and are great teammates which makes me the most proud.”
Marta noted that the success of Anne, who was named the NEWMAC Women’s Lacrosse Athlete of the Year this past spring in her senior season at Springfield College, helps provide motivation to work on her own game. (Of Anne, Jake noted, “There is an inside joke on my team at Springfield that they would trade me for Anne in any sport, not just lacrosse.”)
“I watched how hard they worked in high school in order to play in college and that inspired me to do the same,” Marta said. “Every game and practice, I wanted to get better so I could have the chance to play in college just like them.”
With both of her siblings finding success at Springfield College, there was a measure of surprise that Marta would not be following them but will be headed to St. Anselm College in the fall. When asked about that decision, she explained, “It wasn’t tough to make the decision because I never felt pressured by anyone to follow my siblings to Springfield. Both of them were extremely supportive with whatever decision I wanted to make and are very happy for me.”
The word legacy can be daunting. When asked about the family’s history of success at Franklin, all three were quick to point out the talented teammates that they played with. As Jake said, “Without help from our teammates, I am sure we wouldn’t have been where we are today. Without them, there is no ‘legacy.’”
Marta commented, “I think more about what Franklin lacrosse has done for my family members and I.”
She continued, “The boys’ and girls’ lacrosse programs have given us countless opportunities to make new friends and be part of something at the high school. Due to the strength of the programs, we improved and were given chances to play at the college level.”
Anne also pointed to the impact of the sport, the school and the programs on her family.
“Now that all three of us are done, it’s pretty cool to look back and see that we all succeeded and had a lot of fun playing Franklin lacrosse but we got a lot in return,” she said.
“We all used Franklin lacrosse as a platform that got us to the next level of academics and athletics. Now that I am done at both Springfield and Franklin, I really have an appreciation for both programs and what they have done for my life.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.