From soccer to All-American lacrosse

Four years ago, as an incoming soccer recruit, most people would not have expected senior midfielder Katie Wagenblast’s athletic success to involve a lacrosse stick.

Last year’s Division III Player of the Year and this year’s pick for the Preseason Player of the Year by Lacrosse Magazine, Wagenblast was originally recruited as a soccer player but decided to give up soccer and focus on lacrosse in her junior year.

“I knew that in order to excel in either sport, I had to focus on one,” Wagenblast said.

Her decision to focus on lacrosse has shown in her performance. Last year, Wagenblast nearly tripled her scoring output from her sophomore year. She finished the 2003 season with a team-leading 29 assists and 35 goals.

Wagenblast feels that it’s simply experience that resulted in a career-best season last year.

“I just became more comfortable in an attacking position and began to take initiative (on the field),” Wagenblast said.

Her success from last season has trickled over to the 2004 campaign as she’s already accumulated 10 goals, three of which came in the Lions’ second game of the season, a 13-8 win over fourth-ranked Salisbury University.

The Lions are currently ranked third in Division III, so Wagenblast has high expectations for her team as well as herself.

“I’m just expecting to lead my team and to keep stepping up and improving,” Wagenblast said. “Our goal is to win the whole thing, but we try not to look far ahead.”

It may seem like Wagenblast has been playing lacrosse her entire life, but she first began playing as a freshman at Toms River East High School on a mere whim.

“I played soccer and basketball throughout high school but I wanted to do something in the spring,” Wagenblast said. “I decided to try lacrosse.”

Her first year was the program’s first as well, but Wagenblast helped the pilot program make large improvements and do well in their conference by the time she reached her senior year.

Less than a decade later, Wagenblast has transformed from a rookie at a first-year high school lacrosse program to a collegiate All-American. Although there is no telling what this season will bring for Wagenblast and the Lions, she hopes that lacrosse will play a role in her life after she steps off the field for the last time as a player.

“I would like to coach, if it works out,” Wagenblast said. “I’m graduating in December and after that I’m hoping to get a job teaching somewhere.”

Wagenblast is a psychology and elementary education major and will be student teaching in Fall 2004.