Snapshot: Women's lacrosse team players Courtney Highsmith (2005-2007), Ashleigh Gender (2007), Kaitlin Davis (2004-2006)
Transfer Plans: Courtney Highsmith-Siena College, NY; Ashleigh Gender-Salisbury University, MD; Kaitlin Davis-York College, PA (already transferred)
Read Part I: The Coach
Part II: The Players
It’s an uncomfortably humid day at AACC but despite the conditions, former AACC lacrosse players Courtney Highsmith, Kaitlin Davis, and Ashleigh Gender are scattered across the lacrosse practice field coaching seven to thirteen-year olds through drills for the lacrosse program’s annual lacrosse camp. The trio give the campers frequent water breaks to cushion the worsening temperatures and even better, Courtney tells me a trip to the sno-cone stand is slated within the hour.
The impressive part isn’t that the former teammates are outside in the heat running a lacrosse camp but that they are outside in the heat running a lacrosse camp as volunteers. They didn’t have to sign up for a week of working, but their love for the sport, for helping others, and for their coach are all motivating factors for their service.
So how did they end up at AACC? Like any program’s reputation, word gets around, and for the AACC lacrosse program, the word was good.
“I heard great things about the lacrosse program,” Highsmith says, who, like many AACC students, was unsure of where to go after graduating high school. “I came here and had an awesome experience with the coach and the girls, so I stayed a second year. I had no plans of staying, but with the way everything turned out with school and lacrosse, I stayed two years.”
Highsmith, 19, also served as one of the team captains this past undefeated season. She describes herself and the other team captains as “extensions of Griff”, making sure her teammates were promptly on the field and that “everyone was doing what they should be doing without coach having to repeat it.”
“He’s a great coach and a great person and would do anything for any of his players,” she praises. “He does everything for us, making sure we are doing well in class and that we have the right teachers. He takes care of us when we’re sick and knows what we’re doing on and off the field.”
Highsmith is exactly what Coach Griffiths looks for in a “good leader” which is an essential component to the team’s success. He seeks out captains who work hard academically and athletically, who do extra activities like fundraising, and who carry themselves respectfully on and off the field.
“The players are very good leaders,” he says. “One of the things we have going for us now is that a lot of girls come here wanting to play at a four-year school and maybe they didn’t get recruited by who they wanted out of high school. Now they see that if they come here, work hard—academically and athletically—that they’ll have opportunities that they didn’t have coming out of high school. I think that’s a huge motivating factor for them.”