DURHAM, N.C. – The 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Rathbones Women’s World Cup is just underway, and former Blue Devil midfielder Sarah Bullard is serving as a co-captain for the U.S. women’s national team. Bullard was previously a member of Team USA’s 2009 and 2013 World Championship squads.
GoDuke.com recently caught up with the 2011 Duke graduate to find out what it means to her to serve as a captain for the reigning world champions.
Two other Blue Devil alumnae are also competing at the World Cup in Guildford, Surrey, England over the next nine days, as 2016 graduate Emma Lazaroff is playing for Team Israel and 2015 graduate Kerrin Maurer for Team Italy. Check back to GoDuke.com for World Cup updates throughout the tournament.
GoDuke.com: How have you developed as a player during your time with the U.S. women’s national team?
Sarah Bullard: One of my favorite parts about playing with the U.S. team is that we are always reaching higher. There is never a sense of complacency; we have had games where we have literally won by a margin of 20 goals, and we will come out of that evaluating how we can learn and get better from it. That is incredibly fun to be around and be part of, and has pushed me so much not only technically and tactically with my play, but mostly as a teammate, as a follower and as a leader.
GoDuke.com: How is this year’s World Cup team similar or different to previous teams you’ve been a part of?
SB: Each team has had its own unique personality, and it's actually amazing to see the similarities and differences of going through this experience with each group. This year's team is a great mix of young guns / World Cup first-timers and seasoned vets.
GoDuke.com: Can you speak to the success of the U.S. program and the standards established by yourself and athletes you’ve been teammates with?
SB: The standards really were set by the players who came before us in the U.S. program – they deserve all of the credit for what has been built. First, there is an incredible sense of selflessness on this team. Our team goals are first, no exceptions, and the players who are selected do a great job of embracing that. Second, there is a constant drive to not only be the best in the world and win the gold medal, but to set the example of how lacrosse can and should be played in terms of skill, athleticism, teamwork and character. It's really special that one of the pillars of the U.S. program lies in embracing our position as role models and ambassadors for the sport.
GoDuke.com: How have you balanced training with your professional career and now pursuing an MBA?
SB: I have been fortunate to work for bosses who understand what a valuable and special experience playing for the U.S. team is, and who have fully supported me doing so. The way our playing schedule is set up makes it very doable to have a full-time career and take a few Fridays off of work for training weekends. It actually has given me a great deal of purpose in managing my time to train and stay fit on top of my work schedule. Being a Duke student-athlete taught me a thing or two about managing both intense academics and athletics! The timing worked out well as I will start my MBA program at the end of August, so was able to take time off during the World Cup to fully focus on being here.
GoDuke.com: What does it mean to you to represent the United States at the international level, and to serve as a team captain this go around?
SB: Playing on this team and the opportunity it has provided to represent the United States playing the sport I love for the past 10 years has truly been the greatest honor of my life. Words can't describe how special it is each and every time we get to don the U.S. uniform, that hits me each time I hear the National Anthem play. Serving as a team captain along with Devon (Wills) this time around just adds to that. To have my experience as a player really come full circle and go from being a young player on the team to being a veteran leader to try to help carry on our tradition of excellence is a tremendous privilege and a tremendous responsibility.
GoDuke.com: How does it feel to see two other Blue Devil alumnae also playing at the World Cup?
SB: It's fantastic to have familiar faces representing Duke here at the World Cup. I think it's great that both Kerrin and Emma are able to represent their family's heritage in playing for Italy and Israel, and it's also a unique opportunity for them to not only play internationally at the highest level, but to really help raise the bar for the Italian and Israeli National Teams as they are both such strong players. I'm sure they will make Duke proud!