In the Locker Room with Annie Payne and Bette Imhoff, Women’s Lacrosse Captains, Inseparable Friends


Courtesy of Oberlin Athletics

College fourth-years and women’s lacrosse players Annie Payne and Bette Imhoff pose together for media day.

This week, the Review sat down with College fourth-years Annie Payne and Bette Imhoff to reflect on their past four years playing lacrosse at Oberlin. Both Payne and Imhoff have had successful collegiate athletic careers despite only having played two full seasons. The duo is hopeful for this upcoming one, which is also Payne’s first season with a fully healed ACL. Payne, who plays attack, is a Politics and Psychology major; Imhoff, who plays midfield, is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Africana Studies.


When did you start playing Lacrosse? What made you decide to play in College? 

AP: I started playing lacrosse when I was in second grade and there weren’t many girls playing at all in my area. I was the only girl who played at my school, but my brother played, and I wanted to do everything that he was doing. I kept going after he quit. I played club and varsity all through high school, and then I just couldn’t really imagine stopping. I started looking at schools where I could play that were also really academically-oriented. Oberlin fit the bill. 

BI: I didn’t start playing lacrosse until I was a freshman in high school. The summer going into my senior year of high school, I realized I didn’t want to end my athletic career. My dad was the one that pushed me to pursue lacrosse at the collegiate level. He played lacrosse in college, and whenever he got the chance he would tell me that it was an incredible experience that he wouldn’t change for the world.


This is the last season for both of you and Annie’s first season since getting injured. What are you looking forward to for your first game next week and this season in general?

AP: We’re playing Baldwin Wallace University for our very first game, and that was our very first game my freshman year. That was the day after I tore my ACL — my second ACL tear — so I’m looking forward to redoing that. It feels like a fresh start. Our team’s looking really good, so I’m just looking forward to having a good season. 

BI: I’m excited to finally compete with our entire team and show the North Coast Athletic Conference how much we’ve improved since we last played. I might be overly confident, but I believe we could win the NCAC tournament and maybe even go far in the NCAA tournament. The first-year class brings many strengths, and our returning players have only gotten better. It’s going to be the best season in Oberlin’s history. 


What’s the team culture like this year? What’s your approach to being a captain for this year’s group?

AP: I think most of the team is already pretty disciplined. We have a higher level of play this year than we’ve had in years past. I think keeping that discipline and that consistency and also keeping the positivity at the same time — those are our primary goals with this team. 

BI: From the first day of practice, I’ve been happily surprised by our skill level and how well we work as a team. The team culture is supportive and competitive, and we make each other better players, students, and people. I have so much confidence that our team will do well this season. So as a captain, I will be disciplined and driven because I want us to succeed. However, I want to keep morale high, uplift my teammates, and make sure that we have fun.


Do you have a favorite memory from the past four years as a collegiate athlete?

AP: The only games that I played were in my sophomore year — before COVID hit — and our very last game before we got sent home was against John Carroll University. We weren’t supposed to win, but we ended up beating them. It was a really close game, and we didn’t know it was our last game, but finding that out right after made it even more special.  It was a great game.

BI: When we beat Hope College on a buzzer-beater goal. I believe we were down seven goals at the half, and we came back in the last five minutes of the game. I happened to have the buzzer-beater shot, and I still remember the crowd going crazy and being tackled by teammates.That’s definitely a memory I won’t forget.


If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

AP: Oh, not have COVID hit! Skip a couple knee surgeries… I mean, besides those things, it’s been pretty great. Those are the most obvious. 

BI: While I’ve been at Oberlin, I’ve been asked to play a few other sports, so I think I would be a dual-sport athlete if I had the chance. Not only would it be excellent training for the offseason, but the relationships you make on a team are irreplaceable and special. 


What advice would you give to your underclassmen about navigating college?

AP: Don’t take it too seriously. Nothing is permanent. You don’t have to have everything figured out the moment you step on campus because nothing is gonna turn out how you think it’s going to anyway, and that’s okay. Get out of your comfort zone because this is the time to try new things and take risks. 

BI: I would tell them to take advantage of Oberlin’s resources and make the most of their time here because time really flies by. Lacrosse is a significant aspect of our College experience, but don’t let that be the only thing. Try new things, and join different programs and groups.