By Spencer DuPuis
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Leesburg (September 15, 2016) – Heritage High School junior Kaitlyn Hardin has made a commitment to continue her lacrosse career at Queens University of Charlotte starting in the 2018-2019 school year.
“[Committing] gave me even more motivation to make sure I work on my skills every day, so when I get to Queens, I will be one of the best players on the field,” the 5-foot-5 attacker said. “I feel really proud and blessed to have this opportunity because I know there are thousands of girls who may not ever get to have this opportunity who would like [to], so I definitely won’t take this amazing opportunity for granted. I am extremely thankful for all my coaches and my parents who help make my dream of playing lacrosse at a collegiate level come true.”
The Division II Royals are coached by Clare Gaeng – who returns to the team after coaching at Lenior-Rhyne the past two seasons. Gaeng will assume the head coach position after previously being an assistant in 2014, when she helped the team win its first South Atlantic Conference regular season and tournament championship titles.
“After visiting Queens University of Charlotte, I fell in love with not only the campus but also the coaching staff,” Hardin said. “When picking a university, you really want to make sure it makes you feel at home and safe; Queens made me feel that [way]. I fell in love with the the town of Charlotte in itself, as there is a lot to do around there so in my free time I know I won’t be bored. It’s nice to know that my freshman year I will be starting a new chapter of my life with teammates and coaches that make me feel welcome and part of the Royal lacrosse family.”
During the 2016 season, the Royals had a very successful season with an 18-3 record, that led them to a NCAA Division II National Championships berth, but they fell to Lindenwood University in the second round of the tournament.
Hardin mentioned that she will bring a positive attitude to Queens that will not only let her excel on the field, but also off the field.
“I have always worked on my skills and athleticism on and off the field to make sure I can be the best athlete and player I can be and I will continue to do [so],” Hardin said. “[I will also] look up to the upperclassmen at Queens so I can be as good as them and keep up with the collegiate level of play. I am a very coachable player who can be put in pretty much any position and do what the coaches ask.”
The Loudoun-native who plays her club lacrosse for Renegades Lacrosse mentioned that she got into lacrosse by accident while playing soccer.
“Growing up, I played soccer my whole life and one of my assistant coaches Tom Tyler told me that I would make one ‘mean’ lacrosse player based off my aggressive plays throughout soccer,” Hardin said. “He is the reason I am where I am today along with the coaches that dealt with me and made sure I was the best player I could be. My teammates on my club team motivate me to work hard because with them being so good, it makes me push myself even harder at practices, so I can keep up with them and stand out on the field like they do.”
Hardin will enter her third season with the Pride in the spring, and hopes to see the team continue to get better as the season goes on like she has the last couple seasons.
“As many schools around the county know, Heritage girls lacrosse is a very young team consisting of mostly freshmen and sophomores,” Hardin said. “With that being said there are a variety of different skill levels and, although practice may not be as advanced as I would like, it is really cool to see the new players come in and progress throughout the season. It also gives me a lot of respect to the coaches because teaching lacrosse is not easy.”