Arizona Native Gabby Abbadessa Making an Impact with Sun Devil Lacrosse
Story written by Griffin Fabits, Sun Devil Athletics Media Relations Intern; Cronkite Senior, Sports Journalism Major
Gabby Abbadessa wants to make history with the Sun Devil Lacrosse program, aiming to transform it from a young, up-and-coming team to perennial contenders in the Pac-12 Conference.
She simply made history by joining the team last year, when she became the program's first Arizona native in its three-year history. Abbadessa, who attended Phoenix's Desert Vista High School, played her freshman season at Stony Brook University in New York.
There were several components that went into Abadessa's transfer to ASU. She wanted to be closer to family, who still live in the Phoenix area, but she was also intrigued by Arizona State's budding lacrosse program and new Head Coach Tim McCormack.
"I think Coach McCormack coming is a big step," she said. "We've already grown so much with him here."
Next is getting Arizona high school lacrosse players -- who in years past have left the desert to play elsewhere where the sport is more prominent -- to buy into the Sun Devil culture, one Abbadessa is eager to help mold.
"You're laying the foundation and establishing a culture for the entire program," she said. "There was nothing before this. Being a part of a team where we get to decide what the team stands for, how things will run, it's so cool to say you helped create the culture that ASU women's lacrosse is."
In a shortened 2019-20 season, due to COVID-19 cancellations, the Sun Devils won five games in just their first eight contests. They won their fifth game of the season last year in their fifteenth contest.
McCormack, who was named head coach in July 2019, says Abadessa's arrival to the program "brought a sense of confidence" that led to her making an immediate impact on the field.
"Gabby is a great communicator on the field, and someone who competes every second she is on the field. She immediately embraced our core values and proved herself every day. This led to a very easy transition for her fitting in with the rest of the team," Coach McCormack remarked.
Women's lacrosse in Arizona gets lost in the shuffle amid the myriad of sports offered year-round, and Abbadessa now is a first-hand witness to the differences in the game between the desert and the East Coast.
"People don't know what the sport is because there's not a lot of programs. I feel like there's not a lot of people here who know the game well enough to establish that. I think the high school programs definitely need to grow so much if they really want the game to grow."
"There's only, like, nine high school teams in Arizona. And it's not even considered a school sport, it's a club. I think starting with that and finding solid coaches, people who are actually willing to stick with it, that will help grow the game."
As Abbadessa is hopeful for the game to grow in her home state, her commitment to Arizona State is a solid start. It's something both she and Coach McCormack hope they can use as a selling point for Sun Devil recruits.
"Our job is to put together the most competitive roster possible," McCormack mentioned. "Every year we look all over the country and internationally to find the right people to compete for us and live our core values, and the fact that we were able to get someone who fit this from our backyard is incredible. It should give the local lacrosse community a sense of belief that their goal to play Sun Devil Lacrosse can be a reality."
Abbadessa shares those sentiments. She wants to do more than just don a Sun Devil uniform for the next few years, and instead intends to leave it better than she found out.
"I want other girls from here to say, 'I want to go play at ASU and I can be close to home and I can be a part of a program that's going to be incredible,'" she said. "You don't need to leave the state in order to play."
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