|Limestone Grad starred on the stage and the lacrosse field|
By Drew Brooks of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Sylvia Queener likes to say she was born into lacrosse. The theatre, on the other hand, was an act of rebellion.
But it wasn't until Queener, a star striker for the Limestone College women's lacrosse team, was able to combine her passions that she found "home."
Queener, 24, of Penn Yan, N.Y., is the youngest of four children. All of her siblings and her parents are lacrosse coaches and often oversaw the teams Queener played on growing up.
"I was born with a stick in my hands," she said. "Lacrosse is genetic in my family. It's always been something that was expected of me."
But Queener is a contrarian who often disagrees for the sake of disagreement.
So when 8-year-old Queener saw an advertisement for a school production of "Annie," she jumped at the chance, thinking that theater was the furthest thing from lacrosse.
Young Queener not only earned a spot in the production, she also earned the lead role.
"I've had a love for the theatre ever since," she said.
Yes! You CAN Excel in Academics AND Athletics...And LIMESTONE is the place!
In high school, Queener excelled in both, but never thought she could concentrate on both after graduation.
At Hofstra University in New York, Queener played lacrosse but didn't perform on the stage. At Finger Lakes Community College, also in New York, she focused solely on theater. At Monroe Community College, again in New York, she once again poured all her efforts into lacrosse.
But at each stop, as Queener bounced from school to school, she found herself unsatisfied and struggling academically. She took a year off from college and worked two jobs, putting in more than 70 hours each week.
"I felt like I lost myself," she said. "At the time, I just thought it was too difficult to do both."
By 2011, Queener was back in school, but far from her New York roots.
She came to Limestone College, she said, because of a past relationship with lacrosse coach Scott Tucker, who previously taught Queener at a lacrosse camp, and because Limestone gave her the opportunity to embrace both her passions.
At Limestone, Queener has become a force on the stage and the field.
On the stage, she has performed in "The Rainmaker," "Dancing at Lughnasa" and "The 39 Steps," among others.
On the field, she's played in all but one of the lacrosse team's games the past two years and scored 46 goals with 50 assists this year, as the Lady Saints finished as runner-ups in the NCAA Division II tournament.
NCAA's Life in the Balance
Her embracing of so many roles — student, actress, athlete — perfectly personifies the NCAA Division II "Life in the Balance" initiative, which seeks to balance student-athletes' college experiences, school officials said.
It also has led to more sustained success for Queener, who has been praised for her work in the classroom, too, and recently graduated with a 3.75 grade point average.
"As soon as I came to Limestone and embraced both passions, everything fell into place," she said. "I did not accept just being a lacrosse player. I wanted to be something more."
Limestone has been "perfect" and "magical," said Queener, who praised her professors and coaches for their efforts.
"The coaches have bent over backward," she said, describing how she would leave some practices early to go to the theater department.
Carrie Ameling, a professor of English and theatre who taught Queener, said her prized pupil would often arrive for rehearsal dressed for lacrosse.
Ameling called her "one of the most ambitious" students, and highlighted how Queener balanced her last season of lacrosse with performances of an hour-long one-woman show "The Last Flapper."
"It's a very, very tough juggling act," she said. "She puts her heart into everything she does. She doesn't know how to do anything halfway."
At Limestone, the athletic offices and the theatre department share the Limestone Center on Leadmine Road, Ameling said. Queener helped tie those two departments even closer.
"You'd see the coaches watching her performances," she said. "They were always supportive."
"When she sings, there's not a sound in the audience," Ameling added. "She has such a clear tone. She sings from the heart."
"There's nobody like her," she added. "She just has a natural gift. She's going to do great things. She will be missed here."
To succeed, Queener said she never looked too far ahead.
She spoke to the Herald-Journal from Maryland, where the Limestone women's lacrosse team was preparing to play in the semifinals of the national championship.
"I'm not sure what's next," she said. "I'll spend some time with my family," she added. "Then I guess I'll decide to either coach or pursue theatre."
Or maybe: both.