Rebecca Lassere sat comfortably in the black leather chair, dark red hair cascading down past her shoulders. She spoke with purpose, but calmly. Her self-proclaimed mixture of Type A and B personalities.
It was a chilly afternoon toward the end of October, and Lassere was starting the process of seeing her redshirt senior year on the Seattle U cross country team come to an end.
Her time at Seattle U has been good, but filled with obstacles. Despite challenges and adversity that plagued her time on the team, Lassere can't help but focus on all the positives of her experiences, both good and bad ones.
“Life is so difficult and can beat you down,” Lassere said. “But just focus on the positives and doing the absolute best that you can with anything, because you can't control anything but what you're going to do.”
Just three months ago, Lassere faced her biggest challenge yet. She lost her mother.
But she remains positive. She has to. Lassere accepts her challenges so that she can move forward.
For as long as she can remember, Lassere has been intentional about how she handles her experiences and sets plans.
As a junior at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Idaho, Lassere knew she wanted to continue her running career. She had been running competitively since she was 12 years old, and was ranked No. 3 in the country at age 13 for one of the distances in track, even competing in the Junior Olympics.
She knew she wanted to run at the Division I level, and she knew she wanted to be on the west coast.
Having only traveled to Seattle once before – on a school trip when she was 11 years old – Lassere visited Seattle U's campus during her senior year.
That's when it hit her.
“The vibe felt right,” Lassere said.
That “right vibe” encompassed many things for her.
“The feeling of the community, the people, they way they perceived the world a certain way,” Lassere said.
She continued, saying out loud what she had been thinking at the time: “They have what I want to study, it's in the city. While I'm not used to living in a big city, it would challenge me, good school, could get the aid I want, all those logistical things.”
What made the decision feel right, though, was the atmosphere on campus and in her interactions with the people she met.
Lassere thrives off meeting new people. She always has, and that shows through her adventurous side.
She has been to 18 countries from the span of 2011-2016. She lived in Costa Rica during the summer before her senior of high school. She went on a trip to France in high school, and then again when she lived in France for almost a year when she studied abroad during her sophomore year of college. She speaks the language fluently, and is double majoring in exercise science and, yes, French. It's a major she got “sucked into,” but she's happy it did.
That's Lassere's way of thinking.
Every experience has meaning, and she can make it as good or as bad as she wants it.
She redshirted her track and field indoor and outdoor seasons during her sophomore year so that she could study abroad in France. She came back a bit out of shape, but unbothered by that fact. She had just picked up an invaluable experience, after all.
Lassere redshirted again for her cross country season during her redshirt junior year for a shoulder surgery. It was planned and needed to be done. She had known for awhile that it would eventually happen.
Her left shoulder had been a problem for her since she was 13 years old, when it dislocated for the first time. The second time it happened, she recalled, was the most painful. But it happened 16 total times before she finally got the surgery in the summer of 2015.
Thirteen times, she put it back in place herself. The three other times, however, she had to go to the ER.
She vividly remembers the scariest time it dislocated, when she was 18 years old and surfing in Hawaii. A wave caught her just right, and dislocated her shoulder while in the water. A lifeguard had to save her.
But her junior year of college was finally the “straw that broke the camel's back,” when it happened while she was sleeping and she had to go to the ER to put it back in place.
After that, she easily made peace with sitting out for a season to have the surgery.
“Everything was very intentional about redshirting and taking time off, and I think that the time off I did take was very helpful to me,” Lassere said. “I'm really enjoying this fifth year, and I feel like I'm supposed to be here.”
Because of this, Lassere said she isn't experiencing the “burn out” feeling that some student-athletes might get toward the end of their careers.
As a member of the cross country and track and field teams, Lassere competes and trains year-round, on top of being a double major and working a part time job for a cardiologist at a health and performance clinic, as well as a personal trainer at the Seattle U gym.
But she takes it all in stride and doesn't allow herself to get overwhelmed.
Again, she turns the experience into a positive.
“The time I spend training, that's time I would spend if I was just anyone being active,” Lassere said. “It's not like this extra commitment, it's just more intentional because you have these goals, so it's actually more fun. I see it not like a burden but a gift…I am very organized and intentional with my time and I like planning things out and not viewing them as a big deal. Balancing it comes natural.”
The Type A and B personality traits once again show up mixed in Lassere.
Her mindset has evolved from “me” to “we” during her time at Seattle U, while still maintaining that she strives to be the best person she can be. She sees her teammates as a family, where she is the older sister.
She hopes people remember her for what she has given.
“At the end of the day, people many years down the road aren't going to remember what time you ran or swam, or how many kills you had or points you scored,” Lassere said. “They're going to remember the way that you made them feel.”
So, then came the big question of how she wants to be remembered for her time at Seattle U.
“Despite all of the adversity that I have faced throughout the years and despite everything, that I was able to be a good teammate and be an example of someone who can just do the best that they could no matter what, and who was strong through challenges and not just a fighter, but one that looked out for others and was caring.”
Getting back into a rhythm after studying abroad and dealing with her shoulder injuries and the subsequent surgery were challenging experiences. Losing her mother at the end of the summer was a new challenge altogether.
Only in her early 20s, Lassere has had to grow up quickly.
“It's crazy because I've learned this whole new realm of existence because I'm in charge of my mom's estate,” Lassere said. “So I know things about real estate, mortgages, taxes, finance, commerce, investments that I didn't know a couple months ago.”
Her teammates have helped her find her new normal, even if her experiences are difficult to relate to.
“(Being on the team) helps me interact with people, and it's something that's so familiar at this point that it helps me just kind of find a headspace that's normal,” Lassere said. “Running has been such a big part of my life and such a focus that it's good that I have it now as something that's so familiar when everything feels different.”
Lassere wouldn't give up running because of the adversity she's had to face. Instead, she wants to see it through.
“That's what this team is,” Lassere said. “It's familiar and it's finishing this dream I've had to carry out my running career.”
Post-college, Lassere plans to keep working, but then find time to travel abroad, adding to her list of countries she's visited. She wants to make the most of her life, and continue to take her experiences and use them to shape her as a person.
Ever organized yet go-with-the-flow, Lassere said she likes to make “plans that have the flexibility for spontaneity within them.”
First, she'll finish up her career at Seattle U. Five years that have gone by fast, and have forced her to grow up quickly.
She's not rushing the conclusion of her time here. Rather, she's taking in every day, seeing through a dream she started 10 years ago.
“I believe, at the end, I'll feel fulfilled,” Lassere said.