Navy women’s lacrosse senior midfielder Gil Eby recently chatted with PressBox about her favorite memories at Notre Dame Prep, why she chose to attend Navy and more. The 5-foot-9 Eby earned first-team All-Patriot League honors in 2021 by posting 21 goals and 21 draw controls.
PressBox: How did you become interested in lacrosse?
Gil Eby: I just remember playing at a super young age. I remember in Baltimore we have leagues for literally 3-year-olds. So just started super young and obviously both of my siblings played as well. Being able to meet so many people [was great]. It was also a combination of basketball and soccer and a bunch of other sports I played. I just loved that about it and the competitive [aspect].
PB: Who was the biggest influence on your game growing up?
GE: I would say being from Baltimore, Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata. You’d always turn on the TV and just see how passionate and aggressive they are. They were just so confident and passionate. Just go out there and be super aggressive and good things will happen.
PB: Did growing up in a lacrosse family influence your game?
GE: My uncle, Ed [Eby], played for Loyola. He was a long pole at Loyola. My brother, [Sam], played for Navy and my sister, [Gen], played for UNH. Because I’m the youngest, playing catch with my brother and sister and just being super competitive and aggressive. Both my siblings went to McDonogh, so growing up and seeing Taylor Cummings in high school and just seeing what’s she’s done and just being exposed to such great players in the area. I just remember going to high school games, seeing St. Paul’s-McDonogh, great players from Bryn Mawr. I was so young and just seeing all the crazy stuff they can do and how creative they can get, like faking and going in on the 8-meter [arc]. I remember seeing Taylor do that when she was like a junior in high school. That just really inspired me, so I was really lucky to get all that exposure, just being the youngest in the family.
PB: What are some of your favorite memories from playing at Notre Dame Prep?
GE: Obviously, it’s a very historic lacrosse school. They historically have always been good for a lot of years. All the girls I played with are spread out all along top-10, top-20 schools. … I remember right before a game against McDonogh. There was a middle school team going on right next to our practice and John Harbaugh’s daughter just happened to be playing right next to us. He came over and gave us a pep talk before the game. That was pretty cool.
PB: Why did you choose to follow in your brother Sam’s footsteps and come to Navy?
GE: I just kind of became enamored by how everyone there was working every day to become physically better, mentally better in the classroom, working out every day, grinding every day in school, so I just really loved how those kinds of people were here just trying to grow in every aspect of their lives every day. I just like to be around those people who are just competitive. Honestly, I wanted to serve my country. One of my granddads was in the Marine Corps, the other was a Navy pilot. Just to be exposed to veterans growing up, I just really respected those people and hopefully one day would be able to gain some qualities that they have that I admire.
PB: What is your favorite memory so far at Navy?
GE: I think service selection day. We have this giant marble room, so after we all found out what our service assignments were, the whole lacrosse team was down in the Rotunda. I just remember walking through the doors and the whole team cheered. I really started crying tears of joy just because I was surrounded by all these girls that support me on and off the field and were genuinely happy for my accomplishment that day. That was a really good feeling.
PB: What did you service select?
GE: Marine Ground. I would select Marine Air Officer or Marine Ground Officer, so after graduation I’ll commission into the Marine Corps and I’ll go to The Basic School down in Quantico, [Va.], for six months, and from there I’ll get a MOS, which tells you your more specific job. There are like 32 different jobs you can get, so you really don’t know until the end of TBS, but that’s just the time frame right now.
PB: What’s your favorite thing about the Naval Academy and Annapolis?
GE: My favorite thing about Navy is the people and the challenge, just being able to meet incredible people. A lot of speakers come and talk to us every month, so that’s an awesome opportunity. We had General Mattis talk to us last year, so that was cool to hear. And also just the everyday challenge of trying to complete all your different tasks throughout the day just to gain good habits. There’s been [some] growing pains, but I’ve been able to grow a lot these past four years and I can say I’ve picked up some good habits. Annapolis, it’s honestly just a beautiful town and everyone here is just so supportive of Navy sports, and it’s super fun. Three sides of [our lacrosse fields are] covered by water, so it’s just a beautiful view.
PB: Who is your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores your friendship?
GE: I think my best friend on the team is Alexis Bell. She’s a defender. On defense you have to be able to work well and communicate well together, so I think we are just able to read each other well and pick each other up and just in general work well together. Being friends on the field really helps just with being able to read each other when we’re playing defense.
PB: Who was a player you looked up to when you got to Navy?
GE: Annalise Heyward. She is someone that went super hard every single day, whether she was having a bad day [or not]. She honestly went balls to the wall in practice, in games, all the time. That’s just super inspiring because you can get really tired here really easily. Her ability to just be able to shut everything out and play super well that consistently was awesome.
PB: What’s it like to play in an Army-Navy lacrosse game?
GE: That’s honestly the best game. It’s so cool. Obviously the rivalry is there. There have only been [five] Army games since Army’s such a new team, so just to be able to pop in on the rivalry and our two teams separately now already having our own beef with each other has made the game super interesting. Even if you don’t tend to usually watch lacrosse, you just see Army and Navy playing against each other [and think], “I’m going to tune in because a lot of people have a lot of connections to both Army and Navy.”
PB: What advice would you give to younger players?
GR: You absolutely cannot teach effort. That’s literally the only thing you can control is your effort and your passion that you bring to every game. Just be super confident and work as hard as possible to be able to provide the maximum amount of effort.
PB: What are your long-term goals after lacrosse?
GR: It would be pretty awesome to stay in the Marine Corps and even get a job that’s still around the military, like the CIA or working for the White House or getting in the Pentagon. I think that would be pretty sick.
Photo Credit: Phil Hoffmann/Navy Athletics