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New Hope-Solebury’s Thistlewaite headed to Bucknell


New Hope-Solebury senior Madelyn Thistlewaite has signed her letter of intent to play Division I women’s lacrosse at Bucknell University.

Thistlewaite has had a lengthy athletic career in New Hope-Solebury, standing out in both lacrosse and field hockey. She began playing lacrosse in second grade, following in the footsteps of her oldest sister, Carolyn.

“My first season, I was very resistant to playing, and I don’t think I caught a ball all season,” said Thistlewaite. It all changed the following year. “Something clicked, and I fell in love with the sport.”

Her sisters, three in total, all play field hockey and lacrosse, and Thistlewaite credits them with being her first coaches and teammates. While all different in personality and interests, the sisters found common ground in these sports and practiced frequently together. This came full circle when Thistlewaite achieved her 100th lacrosse goal during her sophomore year on the exact same day that her older sister, Carolyn, reached the milestone as a Lions girls lacrosse player four years prior.

It was also during Thistlewaite’s junior year, per PIAA rules, that Bucknell University first expressed interest to have her play for its team. It was a natural fit, since her father, Scott, is a proud Bucknell alumnus and former football player for the school. “I have so many pictures of me wearing Bucknell gear over the years, and my family went there frequently for football games,” shared Thistlewaite.

Despite this immediate connection with Bucknell, Thistlewaite’s journey has not been without challenges. Heading into her sophomore year, the New Hope-Solebury’s girls lacrosse program had graduated an incredibly strong senior class of players and its highly regarded coach, Betsy Dougherty, resigned. In the face of these losses and with a new coach signing on just two weeks before the start of their season, Thistlewaite saw an opportunity to channel her leadership skills.

“I was the only member of the team who also played on a club team, so I used my knowledge and experience to help come up with practice drills, to help guide my peers and to design plays,” said Thistlewaite. “While it was stressful in the moment, I’m grateful for the leadership skills I developed.”

She credits her field hockey coach, Gwen Smith, with establishing a strong sense of responsibility for the team among her players. “Under Coach Smith, we know that being ‘on-time’ to practice means arriving ready 15 minutes early.”

Thistlewaite and her teammates who played both sports worked hard to establish similar rules and precedents for their lacrosse team. Thistlewaite continued, “One of the things I valued most about my time playing sports here in New Hope-Solebury is the team closeness. It makes a dramatic difference in how much you enjoy the sport and how everyone plays.”

When she visited Bucknell University and saw the same close bonds between the team members there, she knew she found the right place to continue her athletic career. Thistlewaite is excited for the next step in her journey and to pursue studies in marketing and economics at Bucknell.

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