Eagle Tribune

Softball runs through her veins, but lacrosse owns her heart

Amanda Szostak thought she had heard all about the family athletic legacy.

One day in her freshman year at Pinkerton Academy, the point was driven home.

"Hey, Szostak!" she heard from across a hall.

"And nobody knows how to say my name correctly, so right away she caught my attention," the Astros' senior lacrosse tri-captain said.

"Which one do you belong to?" the teacher asked.

That teacher was former Methuen High assistant Kathy O'Connell, who has since retired.

"She talked about coaching, and my aunts (Nancy and the late Kathy Szostak)," said Amanda. "I had heard a lot about them as athletes, but this was amazing."

Kathy Szostak went from Methuen High to play four years of varsity field hockey, a sport Amanda played at Pinkerton in the fall.

But both aunts were three-sport legends for the Rangers, excelling in hoops and softball. Consider that Amanda's dad, Paul, and his brothers Bob and Kenny were baseball players through and through.

The trio of boys went on to star for the Rocky Club in the final years of Lawrence's famed mens fast-pitch Social Softball League.

"Everyone in the family says the athleticism comes from my dad's side," said Amanda, who has scored 31 goals with eight assists through Monday's win over Bishop Guertin for the 12-2, defending state champion Astros. "We've talked about it an awful lot. And while it's not like we're in Methuen where everyone would know about what they all did, I've tried my best to live up to it."

In the overall scheme of "Student-athlete," Amanda has done an exceptional job of setting her own standards. In the classroom, the UNH-bound Chester resident has spent her career earning honors or high honors, netting a class rank of 53 out of 650. A leader on the field, where she is one of three captains on the squad, and off it, Szostak is the Class of 2015's "Social Service Coordinator."

Along with the exploits in the fall and winter, she gives her time on the court in the winter as a member of the varsity girls "Unified Basketball" team, noting, "that's the best decision I ever made. It was awesome."

"Excellent athlete, talented player," said Pinkerton coach Rob Daziel. "An even better kid."

But with graduation and a potential shot at repeating as state champion looming in the next month, one huge question hangs over Szostak and her athletic legacy?

With all the baseball and softball in her bloodlines, how did she ever start playing lacrosse, let alone excel at it as she does?

"I tried T-ball once, and that was it," said Szostak. "My coach now (Daziel) actually started the town lacrosse program in Chester back when I was a little kid, and I've played ever since."

"Lacrosse is fun. I'm still playing with a lot of the same girls since we started, and it keeps getting better and better as it goes on. I like the competitiveness. It's definitely a team sport. One player can't carry a team. You need girls on every line at every position, and it's fast, always changing."

And, of course, there is one link. While on scholarship for field hockey at OSU, Kathy Szostak actually played some club lacrosse for the Buckeyes as the sport didn't go varsity there until 1996.

A second straight championship might really seal her legacy, but Szostak is content that she's held up her end of the bargain.

"I think I did all of them proud," she said of the family's sports legend. "I'm not sure I could live up to all they've done, but I definitely tried."

Amanda looks for an open teammate during practice. Amanda hustles for an open position during practice. Pinkerton lacrosse player Amanda Szostak. Amanda hustles with the ball while looking for an open teammate.

Ryan Hutton/ Staff photos

Hector Longo hlongo@eagletribune.com DERRY, NH -- May 20, 2015