A part of every Goucher student's experience is a trip overseas to study abroad. There, each student soaks in the culture, customs, and traditions of a foreign land, a once in a lifetime opportunity that makes the Goucher College experience even more special.
But, not many students - or student-athletes for that matter - have gone through the experience Mason Gorman '19 (Boise, Idaho) took part in over the last month in the Middle East.
As a member of the Latvian national team, Gorman took part in the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships in Netanya, Israel throughout the month of July, helping the squad register a Top 18 finish in the event.
So, how does a native of Idaho, who plays lacrosse and goes to school in Maryland, end up in Latvia? The answer, pure fate.
"It all started in 2014 at the World Championships in Denver," said Gorman. "I was playing in the high school tournament that was tied along with it and went to a few of the international games as a fan. My mom noticed that Latvia had a team, my mother's heritage, so we decided to go check out their game against Spain."
From there, Gorman met Latvian national coach Paul Dzintars, who informed the incoming first-year student of tryouts in the Summer of 2015 to make the team for the 2016 European Championships in Hungary.
So, in August of 2015, Gorman vied for a spot on the team and made the final roster. To satisfy the citizenship requirements to be on the team, Gorman nabbed a Summer internship in the country and was granted Latvian citizenship along with a passport.
In 2016 when the academic year ended at Goucher, Gorman left for Latvia, where the national team had their training camp in various cities throughout the country on weekends. It all led to the 2016 European Championships in July, where Latvia finished ninth out of 32 teams.
Last year, Gorman headed back to Latvia to live and work in the country for two more months, as he obtained a position in Latvia's capital city of Riga while helping the Latvian National Team finish second overall in the Berlin Cup a season ago.
Fast forward to now, where Gorman helped Latvia to their highest finish in the FIL World Championships since 2006. Gorman was one of 22 members on the team, and one of eight that are Latvian-Americans.
Individually, Gorman finished the Championships with nine goals and four assists in eight games. He posted his best performance against Greece, where he collected a hat trick in a 10-9 victory for Latvia.
The team, who was head coached by Max Silberlict, a current Assistant Coach at Boston, won its pool during the preliminary action in the Championships. They also played on national television here in America throughout the tournament, as games were broadcast on both ESPNU and ESPN+.
For Gorman, the experience this summer has been unforgettable, to say the least.
"There is no better feeling than representing a nation on a lacrosse field, especially as a Latvian-American," said Gorman. "It has been such a humbling experience being a part of this team. Not only have I been able to play the sport I love in Europe, but it's a great way to see the world.
"None of this would be possible if it weren't for my brave grandmother and her family who sacrificed everything and came to the U.S. from Latvia in the 1940's, a time when Latvia was under severe oppression and German occupation. She and the rest of my family have been so supportive of me through these years, it's something that I will always be thankful for."
As Gorman now leaves Latvia for the states and his senior year at Goucher both in the classroom and on the field, he departs with memories made, and the promise of making even more in the future.
"I love playing with [Team Latvia] and I hope to be a part of Latvia Lakross for as long as possible," continued Gorman. "Each summer with the team has led to new opportunities, friendships, and memories. I hope that one day I am able to give back to this nation and Latvia Lakross, as they have done more for me than I ever could've asked for.
"I am beyond proud to represent Goucher on the international stage every year, and I look forward to the opportunities that are yet to come. Dievs, svētī Latviju! (God Bless Latvia)."