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  • Matt Ondesko

The Next Level

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

By Matthew Ondesko Photos courtesy of Geoff Schneider/Sports Union

For most student-athletes making the next level is always a dream. They say you play to win the game - and that is certainly true. You always play to get noticed - and move up the chain. In high school, it can be tough to get noticed.

Sometimes college coaches look at certain schools to get their players. It’s nothing against the school, it could be that the colleges have a connections with those coaches and they may have recruited at the school before.

To get noticed takes time and effort. They players need to work harder and standout in the crowd.

West Seneca West High School’s Kaitlyn Morris wanted to play at the next level. It’s not like girls lacrosse players from WSW have never played in college, it’s just often they play at the Division I level. Morris wanted to change that notion.

She has been a standout for the West Seneca West lacrosse team that gets overlooked because they play the likes of Lancaster and Orchard Park every year. While the schools get more of the press, Morris has just gone about her business.

She has been dominating force on her high school team, and has taken the travel circuit by storm as well. Her dedication paid off in spades when she signed her letter of intent to play Division I lacrosse for the University of Akron.

“Over the past year I have visited many universities and met with many coaches. After visiting the University of Akron, I feel that not only is it a great opportunity for lacrosse but also a great academic opportunity. After meeting with the coaches I was very impressed with the athletic facilities and the vision the coaches have for the program,” stated Morris. “Over the past three years the girls lacrosse program at West Seneca West has greatly improved. We have been getting coverage from local newspapers. My coaches have also helped get my name out there by being in contact with schools about me and my teammates.”

Morris will be going from one rebidding program to another. West Seneca West has seen a rebirth in the lacrosse program with its new coaches. They have dedicated themselves to doing things the right way.

So when Morris heads off to the University of Akron, she will be used to the trials and tribulations of a new program. The Zips will be adding women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport for the first time in the 2019-20 season. It shows how the game of lacrosse in growing.

More and more colleges and universities are adding the sports, and Morris is happy to be part of an upstart program.

“The University of Akron is adding women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport for the first time in 2019-2020 academic year. I’m excited to be a part of building the program,” stated Morris. “Were all starting together and through hard work and dedication I hope to earn a starting spot on the team.”

While it is good that she knows here she is going to college, Morris is focused on the task at hand for the Indians. Throughout her career, Morris has been the straw that stirs the drink for West Seneca West. Her vision on the field is second to none, and it doesn’t matter is she is being doubled or tripled teams.

If the doubles comes, Morris can easily pick out a teammate for a goal. If she is able to go one-on-one then you need to feel bad for the goaltender. Her vision on the field can be attributed to her playing other sports throughout her career.

Like most lacrosse players, Morris has played more than one sports. She has been a hockey player, which helps with the hand-eye coordination. It also helps with the positioning on the field.

“Over the years I have played a lot of sports including ice hockey and basketball. Hockey has taught me how to move the ball effectively in transition and how and where passing lanes should be established. Once settled, lacrosse becomes a lot like basketball,” stated Morris. “As far as picks, cuts , and timing go, it is all very similar to basketball. As far as scoring goals, I think the most important part is thinking 4-5 steps ahead. I have gotten good at reading my teammates and preparing for multiple plays ahead to put myself in a good position to score. Over the years I have also played a lot of wall ball and developed my stick skills.”

Morris also started playing travel lacrosse. Before she started playing for the Empress, Morris didn’t even know what travel lacrosse was. She would just play her high school season and move on to something else during the summer.

But, she was introduced to the Empress, who at the time were a start up program. She quickly excelled on the summer circuit, and that got more and more colleges and universities interested in her.

“After one of my Jv lacrosse games freshman year my parents and I were approached by the president of Empress Lacrosse, Scott Militello. I had been playing against his daughter in the game, Lyla. He explained that he was starting a club lacrosse organization and asked if I would be interested in playing,” stated Morris. “Before this, I had no idea that club lacrosse existed. I went to one of their practices and had a lot of fun and decided to join their team. I played in a lot of tournaments with them that were heavily recruited. These tournaments helped me get my name out there and be recruited by many schools. If i did not play for Empress I definitely would not of came in contact with the University of Akron and would probably not be playing college lacrosse at all. Empress Lacrosse has starting reaching out to younger girls to try and grow the game in WNY.”

Now, Morris is just trying to play her game and help the Indians make it as far as they can in the playoffs. It could be easy to have a chip on your shoulder playing for a program that doesn’t get a ton of recognition.

That’s not how Morris is. She just let’s her stick do the talking, and right now the talking is pretty loud and clear.

“I do not feel as if I have a chip on my shoulder,” stated Morris. “However,I am motivated to try to be the best player that I can be every time I step foot on the field.”


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