Sondra Dickey: from backyard ball to Lehigh standout

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In this 2017 file photo, junior midfielder Sondra Dickey poses outside of Drown Hall. Dickey is currently the leading scorer on the women’s lacrosse team. (Gracie Chavers/B&W Staff)

Junior midfielder Sondra Dickey fell in love with lacrosse the moment her older brother introduced it to her. While playing together in the backyard of their home in Paoli, Pennsylvania, Dickey found her calling.

From there, her passion for the sport intensified, and she dedicated much of her adolescent life to developing as a player. A combination of diligence and talent guided Dickey to becoming a standout at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, where she led the Pioneers to a state championship her senior year and was named the team MVP.

Three years later, Dickey serves as the leading scorer for the Lehigh women’s lacrosse team. She recorded a strong sophomore campaign, starting in all 19 games and leading the Mountain Hawks in goals (54) and points (76).

She was also named first team All-Patriot League, received Lehigh’s Athlete of the Year award and was named Patriot League Midfielder of the Week four times, tying Navy’s Julia Collins for most in the league.

This season, Dickey is averaging two goals per game and is tied for points (5) with sophomore Hannah Cermack.

After missing most of last season due to an ACL injury, Cermack plays alongside Dickey in the midfield. She said Dickey’s natural ability and athleticism fuels her presence as a fierce competitor on both ends of the field.

“On the attacking side, her vision enables her to be prepared for anything, which is a huge advantage for us,” Cermack said. “She’s always one step ahead of her defenders and knows when to go to goal or feed the ball. On the defensive side of things, her ridiculous athleticism enables her to take on anyone.”

Cermack, who received a spot on the roster after transferring from Boston College, said Dickey immediately made an effort to integrate her into the team dynamic during the initial transition. Cermack said their friendship off the field translates into their game on the field, and their contrasting styles of play harmonize together.

“(Dickey’s) always ready for the ball, which is amazing for someone like me,” Cermack said. “I’m typically more of a feeder, which has been really good because I know I can always count on her to receive it and head to the net. We really balance each other out.”

Their chemistry was reflected during a sequence in Lehigh’s most recent game against No. 10 Penn State on Feb. 16. Dickey and Cermack shared two connections on the offensive end, both resulting in one-two punch goals from Dickey. 

Although Dickey possesses a collection of highlights at only the midpoint of her collegiate career, she said none of it has come without some frustration along the way. She said experimenting with aspects of the game that she was unfamiliar with presented hurdles for her development. 

“The biggest obstacles I’ve faced have come from trying new things,” Dickey said. “It takes a lot of time and extra reps to be successful at things I’ve never done before.”

However, head coach Jill Redfern said that the hours of work Dickey has devoted to building her skills have furnished her with invaluable experience that enables her to excel as a leader on the field.

A National Lacrosse Hall of Famer, Redfern has led the Mountain Hawks to eight Patriot League Tournaments in 10 seasons. This season presented a large freshman class, with eight new players that Redfern said Dickey will be pivotal in acclimating.

“We have new personnel on both ends of the field, so we are a young group in many ways,” Redfern said. “Sondra has the potential to help both units ascend.”

Dickey said her love for the game isn’t attributed to the accolades.

“I like the team aspect of the game and building relationships with friends on and off the field that grow as you play more together,” Dickey said. “Lacrosse has given me friendships that will last forever and taught me how to be a leader.”

The Mountain Hawks have struggled to gain momentum so far this season, losing their first two games 15-5 to both Liberty and Penn State.

Redfern said the team is looking forward to finding consistency as it faces more opponents.

As for her goals for the season, Dickey said she wants a Patriot League Championship and to break into the top 25, two feats she has yet to accomplish.

The team’s next game is Feb. 23 against Saint Francis at the Ulrich Sports Complex in Bethlehem.

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