MATTHEWS – In the summer before her freshman year of high school, Butler’s Kaitlyn Coleman was at a crossroads in her athletic career.
She had been playing for her travel softball team for years and was again committed for that summer.
But softball wasn’t fun anymore. Coleman realized she didn’t want to play travel softball and had already decided she wouldn’t play for the Bulldogs once she reached high school.
There had to be a way out, she hoped.
One day, Coleman’s mom asked her to tag along on a visit with her old college roommate. The roommate’s son had a lacrosse game, so they all went to watch.
“I’d never heard of lacrosse, I’d never seen it played before and I really didn’t know what it was,” Coleman said. “But it was really cool and it made me think I wanted to play.”
Coleman attended a week-long instructional camp hosted by a couple of former Myers Park stars and fell in love with the sport.
She began with the Carolina Crush lacrosse team, but had almost forgotten about her lingering softball commitment.
“I was going to play because I had
committed, but I didn’t want to,” she said. “I was looking for any sign that I could to get out of it.”
A day or two later, Coleman’s mom got an email from the softball coach. There weren’t going to be enough players, so there would be no team that summer.
From there, Coleman’s love of lacrosse blossomed.
She scored 19 goals her freshman season and was named to the second-team all-conference team.
As a sophomore, Coleman was even better. She earned a first-team all-conference nod after scoring 44 goals.
Team wise, it was a miserable season. The Bulldogs went 1-14 and lost 13 straight games to end the year.
“After my freshman year, I realized that I really loved this sport and I wanted to play it at the highest level,” she said. “But then last year was a rough season … We were getting down on ourselves. After each loss, it was like we just wanted to be done.”
But Coleman didn’t get down.
That summer, she played showcases and attended camps, including one at Radford University.
At the three-day camp, Coleman said she played awful the first day, but decided to relax and try to have fun the rest of her time there.
The next two days, Coleman played great. So well, in fact, that Radford lacrosse coach Haley Marvine took notice.
“She came up to me and asked what my name was and where was I from,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh they wanted to know my name and who I was.’ I was playing lacrosse like I never had before and it was great to get noticed by her.”
Coleman would later hear from Marvine a couple of times before the coach offered her a scholarship.
Without hesitation, she took it.
On a high, Coleman started to think about playing for Butler again. It was tough to erase the memory of her sophomore season.
But she put a smile on her face and went to work, impressing new coach Ken Dorcy from the beginning.
Dorcy’s daughter had played at Charlotte Catholic for the past four years and he knew of Coleman. He also knew the Bulldogs put a lot of pressure on her to provide the majority of the scoring.
He thought that if Coleman could increase her assists, she would have a better season and Butler could begin to forget about the past.
Both things worked out.
The Bulldogs went 10-5 and made the state playoffs for the first time in school history,
As for Coleman, she did just fine, too. She scored 56 goals – passing the 100-goal career mark – and had a career-high 11 assists. She was the team leader in ground balls, Butler’s main face-off player, a first-team all-conference selection and the 2018 Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
“Kaitlyn was critical for our turnaround,” Dorcy said. “This team has a lot of talent, and she is at the top of the list. I think she helped return a lot of players who came back after a really tough year, but she stepped up her game during the season, as well.
“Kaitlyn has natural athletic ability, but she works very hard at improving her game. She will oftentimes stay after practice to work on something or get in some extra shots, so she puts in the time to get better.”
Coleman said she’s going to play some local tournaments over the summer and continue to work on her game. And, she said, watch out for Butler next year.
“We were having fun this year, and I think that was the biggest thing for us,” Coleman said. “I was having the time of my life. I went into every game wanting to have fun and I think that’s why my stats were much better.
“It’s so humbling for me. I’ve worked so hard for it and to see everything come full circle and the payoff is so awesome … It shows that people see it inside of me and they are believing in me and that means a lot to me. It makes me want to work.”
Girls Lacrosse Super Team
Emily Barnes, Ardrey Kell
The junior midfielder led the Knights in most offensive categories, including points (67), goals (44), assists (23) and ground balls (104). Barnes also won 149 draws at a 60 percent success rate.
Kaitlyn Coleman, Butler
Coleman helped turn a 1-14 Butler team into a 10-5 contender this season. The Radford commit is also the Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly Player of the Year after scoring 56 goals, corralling 72 ground balls and dishing out 11 assists. Coleman also won 106 draws for the Bulldogs.
Cece Colombo, Charlotte Latin
Colombo is now a two-time All-NCISAA selection after earning the honor once again this year. The junior had a standout season in the Hawks midfield, helping them reach the state championship game for the second consecutive season.
Gia Colombo, Charlotte Latin
The senior is one of the quickest players in the state. This year the South Charlotte Weekly Player of the Year earned Academic All-American and All-American status for her play by U.S. Lacrosse. Colombo has signed with Lenoir Rhyne.
Gracie Colombo, Charlotte Latin
The last of the Colombo sisters, but certainly not the least. The sophomore star earned her first all-state nod this season and is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. She is a competent scorer, gifted defender and terror on face-offs for the Hawks.
Flesch wrapped up her senior season in style. The Richmond Spider recruit led Charlotte Catholic with 66 points, as she piled up 44 goals and 22 assists for the 15-4 Cougars. Flesch was also Catholic’s best face-off option, winning 67 draws on the year.
Belle Hardwick, South Meck
The all-conference midfielder was asked to do a lot for the Sabres, and she more than delivered. The Young Harris College recruit poured in 72 goals, 24 ground balls and 13 assists.
Charlotte Pedlow, Country Day
Pedlow is a two-time all-state recipient and forms one of the best one-two midfield tandems around along with teammate Thea Reddin. The Elon commit led the Bucs in scoring and has a knack for the ball.
The senior co-captain has earned a reputation as being one of the best on-ball defenders in the state. Phillips helped the Hawks win NCISAA title games. She is a two-time all-state selection.
Thea Reddin, Country Day
The senior midfielder has been an integral part of the Bucs’ past three state titles. The Colby College recruit is the only three-time NCISAA recipient on this year’s Super Team and a force with the stick in her hand.
Jocelyn Riopel, Myers Park
It was a terrific season for the Mustang defender. Not only did Riopel earn a U.S. Lacrosse All-American bid for her stellar play on the field, but the Sewanee recruit also picked up Academic All-American honors.
Kylie Skovira, Charlotte Catholic
Skovira led a very good Cougar attack with 53 goals this season. The junior also was second on the team with 47 ground balls and added 12 assists for an offense that averaged 12.5 goals per game.
Abby Brown, Providence Day
Sadie Charles Calame,
Anna Farrell, Providence Day
Caroline Foster, Country Day
Grace Holmes, Independence
Riley Lowe, Charlotte Catholic
Molly McLawhorn, Country Day
Ellen Ambler Moseley,
Ellie Perrigo, Charlotte Latin
Maggie Pontiakos, Ardrey Kell
Landon Sule, Myers Park
Caroline Wise, Myers Park