A debilitating stroke has kept Erica Antoine from playing a single game during her senior girl’s lacrosse season at Midwood, but she is present at every one.
The Hornets play with her in their hearts as Antoine continues a long rehabilitation process. The defender was ever-present in Midwood’s 9–7 Senior Day loss to Brooklyn Tech on May 1. At halftime all the seniors individually ran through a tunnel made with the underclassmen’s raised sticks. When it was over, the players spread out wider and Antoine ran through the middle of the field with group shouting “Ericka!”
Brooklyn Tech did a cheer in her honor after the contest. On the other end of the field, the Midwood players fought back tears and filed in along the 15-yard line. They went to one knee, raised their sticks and chanted “Go Ericka! Go Ericka!”
“There is purpose for the efforts this season,” Midwood coach Michael Giordano said. “It puts a lot of things in perspective. They spend a lot of time supporting her at the hospital and at the rehab center.”
The news of her stroke around Valentine’s Day hit the team hard. She was kept in a medically induced coma for a week, and was nonresponsive for a month, according to Giordano. The most she could do was move a finger before opening her eyes halfway after the Easter Break. Antoine’s first words came the second week of April.
“She’s got a long, long journey ahead of her,” Giordano said. “We don’t know what the end result will be.”
Antoine is special player in Giordano’s eyes. Her energywas contagious and her enthusiasm for the game spread to all her teammates.
“Ericka made everyone feel like you were her best friend,” Giordano said. “There aren’t too many people who can make you feel like that. She makes you feel like you are really, really important to her.”
Antoine was also the epitome of what lacrosse is supposed to provide kids. It’s an athletic outlet that can be learned very quickly with dedication, even if the student doesn’t play another sport or never picked up a stick before.
Antoine only began playing lacrosse the summer of her junior year and quickly excelled because she practiced up to five days a week.
“She’s the glue for team camaraderie,” Giordano said. “She’s the fire-starter at practice. She’s the one girl who brings the game intensity to everything she does.”
She played defense last year, but was expected to move to midfield and be one of the Hornets top goal scorers this season. Midwood is 7–7 this season.
“She would have been that midfielder we need to free up other players,” Giordano said.
Her teammates are doing whatever they can to help Antoine now. They honored her at the team’s first home game, a win over James Madison, back in March, and sold some T-shirts. Midwood is hoping to start a GoFundMe account to help the family pay the medical bills. Antoine may not be with her team on the field, but she is always with them in their hearts.
“Just one of those people you run into in life,” Giordano said.