Senior season suspended, George Mason lacrosse player turns attention to sewing protective masks

On or off the field, George Mason University women’s lacrosse player Morgan Rynn has never been one to stay on the sideline. With the season canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rynn has gone from midfielder to seamstress.

The senior from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, had never used a sewing machine before. It didn’t matter: Rynn ordered a sewing machine online. After the machine arrived, Rynn and her mother, Donna, went right to work and now, about three weeks later, have made over 100 protective masks for medical workers and others in the community.

“After hearing so many stories about people struggling right now, it’s hard to sit back and watch when you are so fortunate to be in position where you are healthy and safe,” Rynn said. “I definitely think having that athletic background has driven me to want to do something more with my time.”

That drive led Rynn to sewing, even though she had never done it before. She always wanted to try it, something her paternal grandmother Theresa had a passion for, but with school and playing lacrosse, the civil engineering major never could find the time.

Rynn is continuing to take classes from home online and is a few weeks away from completing her degree at George Mason. While the studying continues, the protective mask making has turned into a family project. Rynn’s father Frank, brother Chris, and sister Katie have all been helping out with everything from cutting fabric to distributing the masks.

Morgan Rynn of George Mason University was supposed to be capping off her college career on the lacrosse field this year, instead she’s finishing her civil engineering degree from home in Pennsylvania and making protective masks with her extra time. (Courtesy George Mason Athletics)
Morgan Rynn and her mom have made about 100 masks so far. (Courtesy Morgan Rynn)
Rynn said she can make one mask in about 15 minutes after learning with the help of YouTube videos. (Courtesy Morgan Rynn)
Rynn said the first mask took her about two hours. It required a lot of trial and error. (Courtesy Morgan Rynn)
Morgan Rynn of George Mason University was supposed to be capping off her college career on the lacrosse field this year, instead she’s finishing her civil engineering degree from home in Pennsylvania and making protective masks with her extra time. (Courtesy George Mason Athletics)
Rynn said the extra time she’s had this spring has helped her think about what’s coming next after graduation. (Courtesy George Mason Athletics)

It took Rynn a couple of hours to learn how to sew her first mask. She and her mother suffered plenty of trial and error. Now, Rynn can make one mask in less than 15 minutes. From oil changes to home repairs, many of us turn to the internet for guidance and it was no different for Rynn and her mother.

“YouTube has been like my best friend through this,” Rynn said. “I watched about 10 videos before I started making everything and getting the materials together. There is a bunch of different templates, and after sifting through, I found one that would fit for my purposes and hit the ground running.”

Rynn’s position on the George Mason roster is listed as Attack/Midfield, and it also said a lot about how she approaches life and its challenges. A four-year letter winner in lacrosse at Upper Perkiomen High School in Red Hill, Pennsylvania, Rynn also made distinguished honor roll, was a member and president of the National Honor Society, and served the student council, including one year as president.

In addition to helping people, Rynn has discovered she has likes her newfound hobby. Which came as no surprise to her, as Rynn said she has always been into arts and crafts, and in her words, sewing is something that keeps her off her phone all day when not doing homework.

“Sewing is something that takes my mind off school and everything that is going on outside,” Rynn said. “It’s relaxing to me and so it’s great that I can do something that I enjoy, while also giving back to the community and helping.”

While the drive and determination picked up in her time as an athlete helped spur Rynn in to getting involved in sewing protective masks, she has also been helped by her coursework in civil engineering.

“I think the attention to detail is something that has helped me a lot,” Rynn said. “I am not doing any calculations or equations or anything like that I usually do in school, but just having the patience to sit down and taking the time to figure out something new and problem solve.”

Civil engineering major at George Mason University, lacrosse player, and now seamstress making a difference, are now all part of who Rynn has become and this time has given her pause to think about what is next.

“I have been struggling over the past year honestly just trying to figure out what I want to do with my career, with my degree and everything,” Rynn said. “This all happening right now has made me step back and appreciate the little things and realize I don’t have to have everything figured out right now. There are bigger things in life to worry about.”

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Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Senior Sports Director and morning sports anchor. He first arrived at WTOP in 1989, left in 1992 and returned in 1995. He is a three-time winner of the A.I.R. award as best radio sportscaster in D.C. In 2008 he won the Edward R. Murrow award for best writing for sports commentaries.

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