- Charlotte North is arguably the most accomplished college lacrosse star in the history of the sport.
- She’s becoming the face of women’s lacrosse as she embarks on her pro career with Athletes Unlimited.
- Insider spoke with North and AU CEO and co-founder Jon Patricof about the star’s impact on the game.
The night before making her professional lacrosse debut, Charlotte North found herself celebrating the most star-studded night in sports, rubbing elbows with the likes of Megan Rapinoe and Billie Jean King.
Roughly 24 hours and a cross-country flight later, the generational talent dominated the first-ever Athletes Unlimited game of her career.
“It kinda aligns with what the theme has been so far,” North told Insider with a chuckle.
The 5-foot-7 attacker was, of course, referring to her whirlwind of a summer. Less than three months ago, North was making a steady run through the 2022 NCAA tournament with the Boston College Eagles, looking to repeat as national champions. And though the Eagles lost the title game 12-11 to the North Carolina Tar Heels on May 29 — a “bittersweet ending,” North described it — she had but a week to recover before joining the US Women’s National Team for the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s Championship.
Eight games, a team-leading 23 goals, and five assists later, the attacker known best for her high motor and incredible scoring ability had a new piece of hardware to put on her mantel: a gold medal.
“I was just so extremely honored to be a part of the national team that got to compete this summer, which was an unbelievable experience,” North said. “It was something I’ve dreamed of for so long and to actually live it out was just so special.
“More importantly, just to live it out with those girls who are so impactful in our sport, and I’ve looked up to for so long, it was an incredible experience,” she added.
From there, it was off to the 2022 ESPYs in Los Angeles. The Dallas, Texas, native was nominated for “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports” alongside South Carolina basketball’s Aliyah Boston, Florida State soccer’s Jaelin Howell, and Oklahoma softball’s Jocelyn Alo.
Though she didn’t win the award, the “starstruck” North said it was “pretty surreal” to find herself in such close proximity to some of the most prominent trailblazers in sports, especially as the awards show shined a spotlight on Title IX.
“It was just so cool to be in the same room as those people and meet them and see the impact that they’ve had on women’s sports,” she said, naming Rapinoe, King, and US Women’s National Team legend Brandi Chastain as examples .
It’s not lost on Jon Patricof, the CEO and co-founder of Athletes Unlimited, that North could be to lacrosse what those stars are to their respective sports. The back-to-back Tewaaraton Award winner (think: Heisman Trophy for lacrosse) and record holder for most goals scored in a single men’s or women’s Division I lacrosse season is simply “unlike anyone who’s come before her.”
“Charlotte is one of the most accomplished players of all time, if not the most accomplished at the collegiate level,” Patricof told Insider, adding: “She has literally dominated at every level that she’s played, and I think her style of play is incredibly exciting.”
Though she only recently arrived at USA Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland, for Athletes Unlimited’s second-ever lacrosse season, North is already proving she’s a top star on the field. Just six games into her tenure of her, No. 88 has scored a league-leading 15 goals — including four 2-pointers — while tacking on seven assists, five draw controls, three ground balls, and two forced turnovers.
And she’s recording these outstanding statistics in a league that necessarily showcases only “the best of the best.” Athletes Unlimited — the women’s pro sports outfit that has launched leagues in basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and softball — is, quite literally, “the only pro league in the entire world” for women’s lacrosse players, Patricof says.
Until last summer, superstars like North had no place to extend their playing careers after college. When she first started playing in the NCAA, she was merely hopeful that “maybe, in a long, long, long shot, and if I worked really hard, I could get a chance to make the national team.”
“But I thought that was kind of it,” she added.
Having a professional league to aspire to, and now playing in, has been “such a dream come true.”
“What Athletes Unlimited is doing is just incredible,” North continued. “It’s something that our sport has needed, and it’s just been amazing.”
—Athletes Unlimited (@AUProSports) July 31, 2022
Now that Athletes Unlimited has secured a two-year TV deal with ESPN to broadcast softball and lacrosse games, there’s a brighter spotlight on the women’s sports league than ever before. Patricof sees AU lacrosse’s 16 games on ESPN2 and ESPNU as an ideal way to further increase interest in the sport.
North, he says, will be instrumental to those efforts.
“There are a lot of people who have been drawn into the game, the women’s game, as a result of watching her and seeing what she’s been able to achieve,” Patricof said. “So for me, she’s a person, a player who can have a huge impact and has already had a huge impact on the game.
“And I think she will have an even greater impact as she goes forward at the professional level,” he added.
Be it her youth or her humility, North is reluctant to embrace the notion that she’s some sort of messiah for women’s lacrosse. Instead, she says the sport’s astronomical growth in recent years is “just a huge credit to people before me.”
“There’s so many people I looked up to that pushed to get lacrosse where it was when I came in and [have] continued to as I have been playing,” North said. “And I think it’s our duty as the next generation to put in as much effort as we can to continue to boost it and just to get more eyes on the sport, to grow the sport, to get the opportunities and exposure that our sport deserves.
“Hopefully,” she added, “I can play a small part in that as well.”