On a chilly Saturday morning in Miller Place, New York in the early 2000s, a love for lacrosse was born. A young Alyssa Parrella sat on the sideline watching her older siblings play the game and dreamed of one day playing on that same field.
“Being outside was always kind of my nature,” said Parrella, now a freshman midfielder for the Hofstra Pride women’s lacrosse team. “Even when I was too young to play, I’d watch my brother and sister play and I’d be like, ‘Oh my god, this looks fun. I want to be out there on the field. I want to play against people. I want to be competitive.’”
As soon as she was old enough to don a jersey, Parrella spent her Saturday mornings on that lacrosse field. While many children grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons or playing video games on the weekend, Parrella was channeling her desire to win to a game she loved.
“I loved a Saturday morning when I’d play as a little kid out on the field,” Parrella said. “It didn’t matter at all. We’d just run with the ball, pass to my friends and afterwards I’d be like, ‘Wow. That was really fun. Let me do it next Saturday.’”
As it turned out, Parrella was pretty good at the sport. She played five years of varsity at Miller Place High School and earned all-county honors on two separate occasions. During her senior season, she tallied 52 goals and 33 assists.
All three of the Parrella children went on to play lacrosse in college. Her brother Nick played at Plattsburg and her sister Tiana was a standout for the Pride as recently as last season.
“Both of them really helped me become the athlete that I am,” Parrella said. “I look up to both of my siblings. My brother was such a hard-on in his sports. I thought that was like the coolest thing. My sister, her heart for the game, made me want to love it just as much.”
The freshman has exploded onto the scene for the Pride, scoring a team-high 15 goals through the squad’s first four games including a seven-goal outing against Fairfield. At this pace, she will easily surpass her sister’s career-high 23 goals with the Hofstra Pride.
Tiana Parrella joined the Pride roster in 2014 after transferring from Albany. While many might assume Alyssa Parrella signed to play with Hofstra because her older sister was in Hempstead, that is not the way it panned out. Alyssa Parrella was already committed to the Pride before her sister opted to transfer to Hofstra.
“I kind of like to tell myself that she followed me here even though she’s older,” Parrella said. “But I have to say that without her being here, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it as much. She made it sound like she had so much fun here and she loved it. I was just wanting to love it as much as she did.”
Tiana Parrella – still a senior at Hofstra – has been very supportive to Alyssa Parrella as she adjusts to the college game. She’s served as a mentor throughout Alyssa Parrella’s freshman year on and off the field.
“Every time I have a bad day in practice or a bad day in school, I always go to her,” Parrella said. “She’s always helping me. She just has such a good IQ of the game, too. I’m still in the process of learning that. I make a lot of mistakes during the games. I think that’s something I want to become better at.”
One thing Parrella has a knack for is scoring. Her 15 goals, seven assists and 25 shots all lead a Pride offense that ranks in the top half of the Colonial Athletic Association. Her teammates have worked hard to get her the ball and give her opportunities to lead the attack.
“When we all got here as freshmen [the coaching staff] told us that one thing that separates a good player from a great player is confidence,” Parrella said. “A senior and a freshman on the field are the same person. It’s a matter of whether you’re going to step up and not act like a freshman.”
With Parrella’s goal-scoring ability leading the charge, the Pride has gotten off to a 2-2 start on the season. Like every player in the country, Parrella dreams of winning a national championship at the college level. Driving those dreams is a memory of where it all began.
“Now when I step onto the field I think of that Saturday morning,” Parrella said. “This is what I’m playing for, and this is how far I’ve come.”