Devils Prospects: A lacrosse midfielder's journey to committing to ASU

Helen Park will join the Sun Devils after playing for the Korean Women's National Lacrosse Team

Helen Park knew she wanted to play Division I lacrosse when she played as a midfielder at the 2019 U19 Women's Lacrosse World Championships in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, representing the Korean Women's National Lacrosse Team.

However, Park faced a challenge in securing her spot on the national team, foreshadowing her challenges of securing a roster spot on a Division I team.

Park detailed how she sent countless emails to people connected with the Korean National Team without a response. What did receive a response was a direct message she sent to the team's Instagram profile. 

"They sent me a link to the virtual tryout and I received an email saying I was one of two non-passport holders to join the team," Park said.

Park said if she were given the opportunity to play with the senior team in another World Cup, she would love to participate. For now, she hopes to bring ASU's team a Pac-12 championship and hopes to compete in the NCAA Tournament after verbally committing to the team on February 14, 2020.

"I'm excited to see how well we do as a team with a new coach and extremely good recruits," Park said. "My goal is to definitely do a lot for the lacrosse team."

Park's parents served as inspiration and motivation to fulfill her goal of playing Division I lacrosse.

"It wasn't just a moment where I said, 'Oh, I could do this at a Division I level,'" Park said. "It was something that my brothers and I worked for since elementary school."

Park grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma, with four brothers who she described as being "super competitive with each other" while playing their sports.

"We spent every weekend going to each other's tournaments and cheering each other on," she said. 

Lacrosse didn't have enough interest where Park grew up to field separate women's teams, so she played on the same team as her brother.

That lack of popularity of lacrosse in her hometown hindered her goal of playing Division I lacrosse. She said recruiters hardly came to her games in Oklahoma, causing her to travel to Dallas, Texas, on the weekends to play in club competitions. 

Her club team in Dallas, 214 Lacrosse, would draw college recruiters. However, her journey truly began similarly to her journey to the Korean National Team: with many emails and phone calls to schools across the country. 

The calls and emails led to her receiving offers from Butler University and Canisius College, but she wasn't satisfied and sought for more.

Park played with injuries during college visits that made her recruiting process even more difficult than it already was.

"I tore my ACL my freshman year and it kinda left me a little unbalanced, and then I had some hamstring problems," Park said. "I had a hamstring graft on my ACL that didn't fully recover. I also tore my meniscus going into my junior year and continued to play on it."

She later traveled to ASU to play in a 4-on-4 prospect tournament. By that time, her injuries had healed, and she put together a strong performance, enough to draw the attention of ASU head coach Tim McCormack.

"It was a really good tournament for me," Park said. "The head coach for the Sun Devils called me the next day and offered me."

A few weeks after her official visit, Park called McCormack and said she was ready to commit. 

Friends and teammates have praised Park for being one of the hardest working people they know. 

"Helen comes from a very driven family," said Brooke Thompson, a friend of Park and a tennis player at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "She already has an elite work ethic and great study habits that she needs for the next level."

Grace Kim, someone who Park befriended during their two-week experience at the World Championships with the Korean National Team, echoed a similar sentiment.

"Helen was an amazing teammate on and off the field," Kim said. "I admired how skilled and talented she was especially on the attack side." 

Park is looking forward to majoring in biomedical sciences during her time at ASU. She hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon one day to help athletes as her doctor did with her injury. 

"My surgeon was an athlete just like me, and he knew my goal was to get back on the field," she said. "He inspired me to be like him and be an orthopedic surgeon to help athletes get back on the field."

Park fulfilled her journey to Division I lacrosse contrary to the way she started it — a team came and found her. 

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