Magnificent Seven

by minton on March 27, 2023

Lilly Blair has told her women’s lacrosse teammates that they are not allowed to wear her number 7 next year. In 2022, Lilly scored 71 goals and was named ODAC Offensive Player of the Year and a national All-American. In sports, such performances often result in a number being retired (not worn by future players). The Roanoke men’s team has, in fact, retired #7 in honor of Bob Rotanz.

Concerns of athletic legacy have nothing to do with Lilly’s decree to leave her number alone. She wants the 7 available when her younger sister Zoe arrives at Roanoke College in 2024-25. Lilly wears number 7 to honor family. Lilly plus four siblings and parents Tommy and Kim make a family of 7. One sister was born on 7-7, another on 3-4 (read as 3+4), and there are other numerological reasons for 7 to feel lucky for each member of what can be called the royal family of Roanoke College.

Lilly and Zoe

Tommy and Kim are RC alums and hold administrative positions in the college. Older sister Emma, whom Lilly idolized and emulated growing up, graduated in 2019 with a triple major in Economics, Actuarial Science, and Spanish (see for more on Emma). Lilly was a 2022 valedictorian with majors in Mathematics and Economics, and is finishing her third major of Actuarial Science this year. Brother Zach is a sophomore Business major, and Zoe has committed to Roanoke College. No pressure on youngest sister Eliza.

Lilly has an amazing set of accomplishments at Roanoke College. Here are seven. (1) Valedictorian with a perfect 4.0 GPA. (2) 2022 ODAC Offensive Player of the Year and second team Division III national All-American. (3) Triple major with top Senior Scholar awards in each major. (4) First team Academic All-American. (5) Top 16 finish in the qualifying round for the 2023 National Collegiate Sports Analytics Competition. (6) Over 200 career goals, reaching #200 in game 61. (7) In honoring her as valedictorian, economics advisors Allie Kassens and Michael Enz wrote, “Lilly made a special place in our hearts because of her character, personality and humility.”

I interviewed Lilly for the scholarship competition at Roanoke when she was a high school senior. I had been told, by an anonymous older sister, that I might have a hard time getting her to talk. This was not at all the case. Lilly is thoughtful, quick to laugh, and enjoyable. I had her in six classes plus Stat Crew (adding up to, of course, seven) and she is an ideal student: hard-working and engaged with the material. She was, as advertised, not very talkative in class but a few well-timed questions and a sympathetic smile when an attempted joke completely misses are much appreciated.

One of Lilly’s lacrosse teammates describes her as calm and collected but passionate, a leader who inspires you to do the right thing and is composed enough to help you do it right even in the heat of the moment. Lilly has also been a leader with Stat Crew, which collects data at Roanoke home games. The challenge is to maintain focus for the entire game while cheering on the Maroons and commenting on the game. Lilly is reliable, accurate, and fun. A surprising side effect was her involvement in the National Collegiate Sports Analytics Competition. Contestants were given large data sets of play-by-play data from basketball games, and tasked with finding and communicating something interesting. Lilly’s analysis placed 16th nationally in the fall (see

Academically, Lilly’s Honors in the Major project is a highlight. Blending her three majors, she analyzed the spread of measles. The question is whether models of measles outbreaks must contain random components to explain their erratic dynamics, or does chaos theory explain the apparent randomness. Lilly studied several epidemiology models and some of the fingerprints of chaos (e.g., the butterfly effect). Her conclusion? Probably a blend of randomness and chaos.

While enjoying her final year of lacrosse, Lilly is interning with HippaWare, a local company that works on self-funded insurance rates. Her job is supersized underwriter work, and has great possibilities for giving her important leads into the insurance business. There are actuarial exams to work on and temptations to try other fields, but for now a career in insurance is plan A. Whatever the future holds, you can bet on success and family playing central roles.

The title for this article comes from a classic Western movie. I’ve never actually seen this movie, or its 2016 remake. But it was great being in the supporting cast for Roanoke’s magnificent number 7, and I look forward to the sequels.

P.S. There are 777 words in this article.