Story Links

April 26, 1999

“Yeahhh, Sammmm!” an enthusiastic Mia Mooney screams, as SammTaylor sprints towards her. The two energetically slap hands and Mooneyturns to cheer for the next introduced player. She and her teammatesprepare to battle Duke. While this is only one, specific snapshot of MiaMooney, it is a snapshot that one can see at every game and at everypractice. It is an image of a spirited and determined athlete who wantsnothing more than to see her teammates succeed.

Whether it is pumping up the team, scoring goals, or rushing for aground ball, Mooney does everything with tireless energy. The fourthyear captain is a dynamic leader. “I try to be someone that the teamrespects and believes in. I want my teammates to be able to come to me andto be someone that they can trust,” Mooney said.

Her teammates can also trust her to put points on the board. Twogoals against Duke in the ACC semifinals and one goal against Maryland inthe finals, pushed her to the 100 point plateau. Mooney has 71 careergoals and 29 career assists. She is only the 18th player in Virginialacrosse history to tally 100 points. She currently ranks third on theteam in scoring with 18 goals and is also third on the team in assists withseven.

Mooney grew gradually into both her scoring and leadership roles.As a sophomore, Mooney had 12 goals and three assists, but these totalsdrastically improved the following year. She scored 30 goals and fifteenassists before an injury cut short her season . Despite the injury, sheearned Second-team All-American honors and still remained Virginia’sleading scorer. “I was the same person and the same player [that I was mysecond year], I had just stepped behind people. My first and second year,the older players knew what they were doing and I felt like I was in moreof a supporting role. But during my third year, I was ready to step up,”Mooney said.

Now, Mooney knows she must lead by example. “As a captain and as afourth year, you have to show up every day and work just as hard. It doesnot matter if you are tired or injured. The fourth years must set the tonefor the intensity,” she said.

Mooney gained a different perspective about hard work anddetermination after her injury last year. Mooney tore her AnteriorCruciate Ligament (ACL) 1:05 into the Loyola game–just one game shy of theNCAA Tournament. She had surgery immediately, and, one week and a halflater, she watched her team play against Princeton from the sidelines.

She remained on the sidelines throughout the fall season. This wasvery difficult for Mooney. Standing and watching from the sidelines wassomething that she had never been through. She began to obtain a newrespect for her injured teammates and for those players who did not seemuch action. “You get used to playing in every game. There is somethingto say about the people who don’t play and come out and work hard everyday,” Mooney said.

Mooney’s injury also affected her schoolwork. As an Art major witha concentration in Photography, she started taking pictures of otherathletes during the rehabilitation process. This idea grew into acollection of about 40 or 50 pieces which were displayed in theFayerweather Gallery from April 12-16. She now only has five morephotographs to complete for her final portfolio.

Mooney first took pictures of her teammates and of herself. Mooneyshot photographs of teammates Ashley Widger, Jamie Haas, and Mary Sauer.She recruited other injured athletes while spending time in the trainingroom of the McCue Center. She took photographs of football player AnthonyPoindexter, former basketball player Chase Metheney, and wrestler SteveGarland.

“What a better way to illustrate the struggles of athletes thanthrough photography. No one’s tried to make a scar into fine art,” Mooneysaid.

It was teammate Widger who first suggested that Mooney take aphotograph of a scar. She has undergone two knee surgeries during her fouryears at Virginia. After only playing in 10 games last season, she is nowsecond on the team in ground balls with 51 and third on the team in causedturnovers with 37. Widger is an athlete who Mooney admires deeply. “If Ihad to model a photo essay after someone, it would be Ashley. She is anexample of dedication and perseverance. She always puts the team in frontof herself,” Mooney said.

It is teammates like Ashley that have made Mooney’s experience atVirginia so enjoyable. “My teammates and my friends that I have made arethe most important part of the past four years. I have learned so muchabout teamwork, dedication, and work ethic. I’ll have this stuff forever,”she said.

As her stellar career at Virginia comes to a close, Mooney willalways possess lasting images of her teammates. It is these images, notthe statistics, that matter to Mooney. “I’ll always remember the way welook after a big win. When I say we, I mean WE. I look at all the facesand you see so much happiness and togetherness,” Mooney said.

Print Friendly Version