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Redwood Bark

Photo Essay: Boys’ varsity tennis sweeps Archie Williams in MCAL semifinals
Photo Essay: Boys’ varsity tennis sweeps Archie Williams in MCAL semifinals
Molly Gallagher April 18, 2024

On Wednesday, April 17, the boys’ varsity tennis team dominated their match against Archie Williams in the semi-finals of the Marin County...

Photo Essay: Girls’ varsity lacrosse dominates Branson in a sentimental senior day matchup
Photo Essay: Girls’ varsity lacrosse dominates Branson in a sentimental senior day matchup
Emma Rosenberg and Penelope Trott April 18, 2024

On April 18, the girls’ varsity lacrosse team battled against the Branson Bulls in a blowout senior day matchup. Prior to the start of...

 embracing his coach senior Auden Braden celebrates his final MCAL regular season game
Boys’ volleyball dominates Marin Catholic on Senior Night
Richard Byrne April 18, 2024

On April 17th, the boys’ varsity volleyball team faced off against Marin Catholic (MC) in a Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) game. The...

Sports Spotlight: Riley Peterson dominates the lacrosse field

If you have ever stopped by a girls’ varsity lacrosse game and found yourself mesmerized by the blaze of flashing red, don’t be alarmed; it’s not just the iconic Redwood lacrosse jerseys catching your eye. Take a closer look, and you’ll see that it’s the striking red hair of star senior Riley Peterson racing down the field. A powerhouse on the lacrosse field, #1 is not only a force to be reckoned with but also serves as an inspiration to the athletes around her. Riley is a driven athlete, having devoted 11 years to playing lacrosse. 

From gymnastics to water polo to soccer and now lacrosse, Riley’s athletic journey began at a young age, fueled by her natural athleticism and the joy she found in being part of a team. After watching her sister play lacrosse in first grade, Riley fell in love with the speed, intensity and team culture of the sport. That year, she began playing on recreational teams, starting with Mill Valley Wolfpack and later for the Ross Valley Grizzlies and the Tenacity Project. In seventh grade, Riley switched to play on her current team, Steps Lacrosse, assisting greatly in her recruitment process. 

Riley’s dedication to lacrosse extends beyond the confines of practices and games. Her hard work is seen in the relentless hours she devotes each week to honing her skills, a commitment that she attributes to her consistent routine.

“Putting in the effort outside of playing with the team has greatly impacted my skill on the field. Improvement is just about consistency and getting in the habit of things. [In my routine] I know I do wall-ball on this day and run on this day, and it’s really helped,” Riley said. 

With consistent practice, Riley has become one of the best players in Northern California. She takes draws for the Giants, using her quick feet and agility to create offensive momentum. Her workout regimen gives her the strength to overpower opponents, win ground balls and maintain the stamina to play throughout intense games. 

Deedee Peterson, Riley’s mom, notes that Riley’s passion for the sport has shifted from her earlier years. 

“[Riley has really] laser-focused on lacrosse for the last five years to ensure that she fully embraced the sport and learned every aspect about how to be successful,” Deedee said. 

After playing varsity lacrosse her freshman and sophomore years, Riley took on a crucial role as team captain in her junior year. Senior Caitlin Shaver has played lacrosse with Riley for the past two years and speaks on the impact Riley has had on the team dynamic.

Everyone on the team has a great sense of respect for Riley. She is such a strong and accomplished player, and everyone wants to follow her lead and take after her

— Caitlin Shaver

Deedee also notes the leadership qualities that Riley has gained playing lacrosse. 

“The sport has significantly contributed to her development and success [as a leader]. She has always had a leadership presence from a very young age, and the sport has allowed her to explore what leading really means,” Deedee said. 

This past year, Riley hoped to take her lacrosse career to the next level by trying out for the Irish national team. She traveled to Dublin in January 2023 for a two-day tryout and arrived home with a spot on the under-21 national team, composed of domestic and international players. 

That following summer, Riley traveled to Prague to play in the European championship. The tournament, organized by the European Lacrosse Federation, is held every four years to determine Europe’s best national lacrosse team. Growing up with first-generation Irish relatives made the accomplishment even more special for Riley and her family.  

After such a momentous achievement, Riley tried out again this year, making the 21-and-over team for the summer of 2024. She hopes that through continued hard work and dedication, she will qualify to play in the 2028 Olympics with Team Ireland and, even further, continue lacrosse in her adult years.

“I want to be like the women I play with now. They are in their 30s and are still playing lacrosse and [competing in] tournaments,” Riley said. 

This experience was also memorable for Riley because she was introduced to her future coach, Katrina Dowd, at Brown University. Riley met Dowd at tryouts for the Irish national team, and the two bonded over their love for the sport. Following the tryout, Dowd reached out to Riley, and the two discussed her possibility of playing on the team at Brown University. 

Before getting in contact with the head coach at Brown, Riley was committed to play lacrosse at San Diego State University (SDSU). Apart from the connection Riley made with the coach at Brown, she also felt that Brown was the right fit for her to feel challenged both academically and athletically. 

“I went on my official visit to SDSU, and I had a gut feeling that something was a little wrong… I was looking for a higher level [to play lacrosse], and the Ivy League is a more competitive [conference]. I bonded really well with the girls that I know at Brown, and everything kind of just clicked with me, whereas I was trying to force the pieces together at SDSU,” Riley said. 

Riley’s journey — from getting a spot on the All-American roster to serving as captain of the varsity team to playing for Team Ireland is a testament to her extraordinary dedication on and off the field. Through it all, the incredible highs and the inevitable lows, Riley’s family has served as a backbone to her. 

“[My family] goes to tournaments with me, and after the game, if I don’t [play] well, they tell me to pick my head up and say, ‘Okay, next game, next ball, let’s put that in the past,’” Riley said. 

Deedee also touches on their family’s support in traveling country-wide to support Riley at her games. 

“Our family’s infrastructure wrapped [itself] around Riley to ensure that she was supported every step of the way,” Deedee said. 

While the demand for the sport can be very high, Deedee finds immense pride in watching her daughter play the sport she loves. 

“[Our family] gets very emotional watching Riley play because we have seen all the highs, lows and everything in between. We see how well she’s developed as a person and how the sport has helped mold what she wants in life. We are usually happiest when we see her enjoying the game,” Deedee said.  

Amidst the demands of the sport, Riley reflects on the profound influence of her coach, Lauren Yee, who was able to mentor her throughout her journey on Grizzlies, Steps and now the Redwood varsity team.

“[Yee] helped me because, at one point, I didn’t really want to [play lacrosse] anymore. [She] reminded me of all my work and effort and kept telling me how sad it would be to watch me lose what I love,” Riley said. 

Since Riley held a lacrosse stick in first grade, her love for the sport has only grown. 

“I have so much drive and passion because I just love this sport so much. There are so many people who are good at a sport, but they just don’t have a passion for it. You really have to love your sport to be great at it,” Riley said.

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About the Contributor
Erica Block
Erica Block, Layout Editor
Erica is a senior at Redwood High School and is a layout editor for the Bark. She enjoys listening to music, traveling and watching sunsets with her friends.