Panther lacrosse player is well traveled: Lawlor pursues languages, geography

Editor’s note: This story is provided courtesy of Middlebury College.
MIDDLEBURY — The following is a Q-and-A with Parker Lawlor, a rising senior at Middlebury College who has been a three-year contributor for the Panther men’s lacrosse team in the midfield. 
Lawlor, a computer science and geography dual major, has excelled both in the classroom and on the field at the college. The Carlsbad, Calif., resident played in all 18 games this season for the Panthers, starting five times and posting career-high totals in goals (20), assists (9) and points (29).
The questions were posed by the college’s Sports Information Department, which provided the article to the Independent.   
Q: You studied abroad in Norway last fall and hiked throughout the Norwegian backcountry. How did that experience impact your education?
A: I attended the University of Oslo, where I took a global development class, an artificial intelligence class, and Norwegian. I found my global development class fascinating because I was exposed to a totally different perspective on many current political issues. One of the ideas that I took away from was that particular class was in many areas of development, the United States and Norway have common goals, but have different ways of approaching them. In my artificial intelligence class, I created genetic algorithms and neural networks to solve complex problems.
Being alone in Norway was an amazing growing experience for me as a person. At points I got homesick and lonely, but overall it was everything I wanted in a study-abroad experience. Norway has an incredible network of trails and cabins throughout the country, which made it easy to hike from point to point. Through these trips, I became good friends with several Norwegians and learned a lot about their culture. The nature was absolutely stunning! The fjords and glaciers were geological features I had never seen before. It was easily the most beautiful place I have been.
Q: While in Norway, you played with the Oslo lacrosse team in the European Club championships, where your team was the runner-up. How did that experience help you in 2017 and now headed into your senior year?
A: The team was comprised mostly of Norwegian National Team players. They took me under their wing and became my closest friends while I was abroad. I have kept in touch with a bunch of the guys and they closely followed our season. It was an awesome experience playing in Belgium against competition from all over Europe.
Q: You also helped coach one of the Norwegian national team’s training camps with Notre Dame lacrosse alumnus Dan Scolaro. What did you learn from him that improved your overall game?
A: Coaching the national team camp with Dan was awesome. Dan and I bonded over being the only Americans in the Norwegian lacrosse community and the fact that we were both walk-ons in college. We talked a lot about lacrosse and how it has changed since he graduated. We exchanged ideas for drills and put practice plans together. It was really fun listening to his experiences playing at Notre Dame and how they were quite similar to my experience at Middlebury.
Q: What do you have planned for the summer months?
A: In early June, my dad and I completed our hike through the Grand Canyon. It was such an awesome trip, especially to share that experience with him. We can joke about the extreme 110-degree heat now that we are no longer engulfed in it, but in the moment we were both suffocating. It was stunning to see the canyon from the inside, looking back up at the monstrous walls and different layers of rock. 
There were also many different microclimates that I had not expected going into the hike. At one point, we were walking through a lush ravine. A little further ahead, we were in a desert forest, and the rest of it … well, that was just hot. The hike took us a total of 14 hours, but we were able to make it thanks to handfuls of almonds, beef jerky and a can of tuna fish.
Now that I am back on the East Coast, I am extremely excited to be working at the Taft School as a teaching intern. In the mornings, I assist a master teacher in a literature and composition class. Then, in the afternoons I am teaching a public speaking class on my own and coaching sports.
Q: What attracted you to Middlebury?
A: I fell in love with Middlebury after visiting the campus the summer going into my senior year of high school. I always had my heart set on coming to the East Coast for college and I wanted a liberal arts education. The one thing that stood out to me about Middlebury was its language program.  In high school, I was passionate about Chinese and knew that Middlebury would be a great place to further my interest.
I didn’t hear about Middlebury until my sophomore year of high school. I loved how beautiful the campus was, the opportunity to play lacrosse at a high caliber and the experience of living in a totally different part of the country.
Q: What else keeps you busy at Middlebury?
I have been a grader for the computer science department. When I am not involved with homework or lacrosse, I love being in the outdoors. I am passionate about hiking and mountain biking.
Q: How do you balance your academics with athletics?
A: I was actually just recently talking about this with some my friends. Balancing work with athletics has been much easier than I had expected. I find that I am far more productive when I am in season. Sure, sometimes it is a little stressful and you have to do work on the bus trips, but overall the work always ends up getting done.
Q: How did you get started in lacrosse?
A: My dad played lacrosse in college, so growing up I have always had a stick in my hands.  It wasn’t until I started middle school that I began playing organized lacrosse. My sophomore year of high school, I realized nobody was forcing me to play, but that I genuinely loved the game. That is when I decided for myself that I wanted to play at the next level.
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