Makenzie Schnur has never had a problem with motivation or athleticism — the graduating Brunswick High School senior has been a multi-sport athlete almost since the time she could walk.
“She has played soccer since she was three or four — whenever they can start playing — and she has played basketball since kindergarten,” said Makenzie’s mother, Meghan. “She’s always been very driven. She has her goals and wants to achieve things.”
She played baseball too, and a whole lot of soccer, but it was lacrosse that eventually won over her heart in 8th grade.
“Soccer just kind of got boring to me by the time I got to 8th grade,” she says. “I decided I wanted to play lacrosse and play that spring for a rec league, and then the following year, in 9th grade, I joined a club team.”
Makenzie also played on the Brunswick varsity girls lacrosse team all four years of high school, primarily as an attacker.
“My thing, I like to assist people. I’ve always had pretty good field vision and been able to sit back and string the passes in, where a lot of people don’t see it,” she says. “That’s my favorite thing about playing attack. That was definitely pretty natural for me.”
What wasn’t as natural for Makenzie, however, was pulling off the explosive changes in direction at speed necessary to blow past a defender in a one-on-one duel and take the goal herself, and she wasn’t happy with her top speed and endurance on the field.
And then there was the issue of injuries.
She would injure herself, pull her quad a lot.
“If I was running straight I was fine, but when I would have to change direction, I kind of found out through some injuries that my right leg was pretty weak compared with my left,” Makenzie says.
But that was all a little more than a year ago. Before a friend first brought Makenzie into Players Fitness and Performance, PFP, in Frederick, a gym and training facility with a personal touch that was admittedly like nothing Makenzie had experienced before.
“I walked in and they greeted me with a hug, which was a little weird because I am not a touchy-feely person,” she says with a laugh. “But after a few times it was awesome — they have a lot of energy. Their energy is contagious.”
And Makenzie made an impression at PFP with her attitude and performance as well.
“It wasn’t long after she started training that I realized how much of a beast she was,” said PFP Founder and trainer Andrew Simpson. “An extremely tenacious work ethic, extremely unassuming, comes in with smiles and a bubbly personality and then she starts working out and it’s just like a switch is flipped and she is in training mode.”
Makenzie and the PFP team immediately got to work improving her speed and strengthening her legs and hips to pre-hab and prevent injuries. She began doing lower body strength exercises with a whole new commitment.
“I really love deadlifting, that’s my favorite thing to do there,” Makenzie said. “I had squatted a little bit and deadlifted a little bit, but didn’t really know how to do it correctly.”
And really learning the methodology behind training made a huge difference in preventing injuries for Makenzie as well.
“Being a three sport athlete, I trained through all seasons, so I never really knew how to train my body for lacrosse without hurting myself for other sports and still being able to push myself and improve,” she said. “I was able to learn the technique and how to do it correctly without injuring myself.”
Working hard and working right has paid dividends for Makenzie in the year since she first started at PFP. During her winter basketball season, she found she could finally keep up with a friend who had always had the edge during full court sprints.
“I was keeping up with her completely, which is something I had never been able to do before, and even beating her times, so that was really cool to see that I was definitely improving a lot,” she said.
Her upper body strength, such and advantage on the lacrosse field, has grown by leaps and bounds as well.
“I came in with absolutely no upper body strength. When I walked in I think I did maybe five push ups on the first time and really struggled to do that,” Makenzie says. “Now I am up to almost 20.”
But not all of Makenzie’s growth has been physical. She has found a new strength of character, a well to pull from in order to step into wider leadership roles. When things were going poorly on her team at Brunswick, Makenzie talked to Simpson about what she could do.
“We gave her some uncomfortable action steps that most high school athletes would have said, ‘thanks but no thanks, I’m not doing that.’ but instead with Makenzie, she took that as a challenge and she got uncomfortable and she ended up stepping up as the leader of the team and having some difficult conversations with coaches, with team mates. It was a huge shining moment for her I think.”
“We talked about what was in my control and what was not in my control,” Makenzie adds, “And that helped.”
That mental maturity, the discipline and positive attitude combined with innate natural talent and work ethic are reasons Simpson sees Makenzie going far. It’s also one reason why she was named PFP’s Athlete of the Month for June.
“I think of a lot of the times an athlete either has physical talent, or they have the attitude and mindset of a champion, and it’s really hard to combine the two,” Simpson says. “She was able to combine the two, which just took her to another level.”
And part of that next level will be playing lacrosse at Messiah in the fall, joining a team with a lot of talented, incoming freshman girls. Makenzie has a lot of aspirations for that team.
“They have been in the berth for a national title for five years now,” she says. “I am really excited and hoping that, in my four years, we will win the championship. That’s the ultimate goal.”
In the meantime, Makenzie is spending her summer at PFP — not just training, but as an intern.
“I think she saw the fact that she could potentially pass on some of the same inspiration and motivation and coaching that she’s received to other people,” Simpson says. “Her first day on the job, I looked over and she’s already coaching up some younger high school girls on how to do a proper deadlift. We didn’t give her any guidance that day, she just hops right in and just had the natural tendency to want to help somebody.”
“I have always had an interest in coaching,” Makenzie adds. “I want to be able to do a job where I can coach lacrosse or so something like that and just teach other people.”
Makenzie is a self-motivated, goal oriented person, but she understands that to continue growing in herself, she has to help others to grow as well.
“I want to be confident in myself so that whenever something happens, whether it’s on or off the field — that I am someone they can look to,” she says. “That I can be a leader in whatever happens.”
That’s Makenzie Schnur’s why. What’s your why?