Coast-to-coast: Suzuki playing lacrosse to better adapt to American environment


Josh Campbell

Coppell junior midfielder Aoi Suzuki rushes downfield against Plano on Friday at Clark West Field. Immigrating from Japan three years ago, lacrosse has helped Suzuki adapt to her new life and provided opportunities to create new bonds through competition.

Sreeja Mudumby, Communications Manager

As she launches the ball from away from her crosse towards her teammates, she cannot help but remember her best friends who are approximately 6,321 miles away from her. Memories of traditional dresses and the taste of home food trickle into her memory. 

But the thing she misses most is being draped with a white gown, graciously swaying back and forth on the stage. The delicacy of dance is what gives it the beauty. 

She snaps up.

Coppell junior midfielder Aoi Suzuki was an avid dancer, and her skills ranged from hip-hop to ballet to jazz. Suzuki immigrated to the United States from Chiba, Japan in March 2018 when she was in the eighth grade and faced the typical struggles of an immigrant, but persisted through.

“The biggest struggle was definitely the language barrier,” Suzuki said via email. “I didn’t understand English at all when I moved here. Plus, I am kind of a shy person and not good at communicating with people who I don’t know very well, so it was hard for me to meet new people and make friends. With language being different and not having friends like I used to in Japan, it was difficult for me to adapt to a new environment.”

Suzuki’s introversion caused her to be socially isolated for a while until she learned how to adapt to the American environment. 

“When I first met [Suzuki], it was freshman year,” Coppell junior attacker Haley Wenzel said. “She was really quiet – she has always been quiet –  but she has a very subtle way of communicating, and she was an overall very sweet person.”

Lacrosse is the place where I can be myself and enjoy being there, whether it is practice, winning or losing. If I hadn’t played, I would’ve never [been] interviewed for The Sidekick as well.

— Coppell High School junior Aoi Suzuki

Suzuki left more than her family and friends behind when she immigrated. When she came to the United States, dancing here did not give her the same happiness as dancing in Japan. However, she found another way to express herself and stay active.

The lacrosse team. 

“I didn’t know anything about lacrosse until I came here, so I thought it’ll be interesting to start a brand new thing with a brand new environment,” Suzuki said. “I used to do track, but that was the only sport I did, and I had never done team sports before, so I was super nervous at first.”

Suzuki continued to push herself. Working out everyday before and during quarantine, Suzuki improved her body strength. Before she knew it, she was scoring goals for the varsity team. 

“At first, I almost understood nothing of what they were saying, so it was difficult to understand drills and plays,” Suzuki said. “Now, I don’t [struggle] most of the time. Even if there [is] something confusing, my teammates and coaches always take time and clarify any confusion. I used to feel sorry for not understanding and taking their time, but I can now ask questions without hesitation. I really appreciate the environment that I have now.”

Suzuki continues to be a strong teammate. Coppell junior midfielder Sadie Harper can always count on Suzuki in the field, and trust her skill to score a win for the team. 

“She’s a really reliable person on the field,” Harper said. “Whenever you pass to her, she’s always probably going to catch it. She always tries her best, and when she’s on the field, you know something’s going to go right.” 

However, Suzuki’s aggression is only seen when she is holding a crosse. According to Harper, when Suzuki is not on the field, her hard work and kindness outshine those around her. 

“She’s probably the sweetest person in the world,” Harper said. “She’s so kind and so positive, and I respect how much effort she puts into everything.”

Suzuki is now an accomplished athlete in a surrounding that supports her. With teammates who are also her friends, she has found her home away from home on the field. 

“Lacrosse is the place where I can be myself and enjoy being there, whether it is practice, winning or losing,” Suzuki said. “I couldn’t make any friends until I joined lacrosse. But when I come to practice, I enjoy communicating with my teammates. I was able to figure out what kind of person I am through lacrosse. Lacrosse not only helped me adapt to a new environment but also changed my personality overtime. If I hadn’t played, I would’ve never [been] interviewed for The Sidekick as well.” 

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