All-Area Girls' Lacrosse Player of the Year: East Lyme's Kiki Ryan
She was the best player of them all on the newly turfed field at East Lyme High School, 90 goals and 52 assists this season.
Now for what makes the story even better:
There was a time she never had any intention of playing lacrosse at all.
"I live in Salem," Kiki Ryan was saying recently, recalling a brilliant high school career. "I joined lacrosse in sixth grade because I just wanted a sport and it was a way to become friends with all the East Lyme people.
"But before that," she said, "I never really had much interest in playing. When I started, I felt like I was naturally good at it. It got fun."
It's been quite the evolution from "no interest" to "The Day's 2013 All-Area Girls' Lacrosse Player of the Year."
Even better, Ryan is headed to Division II Stonehill College to play lacrosse.
It was during her recent orientation that Ryan realized the significance the sport bears on her life.
"It's made me who I am," she said.
More Ryan: "When I was at orientation, people were asking if I played any sports. And I could say 'lacrosse.' I felt like I could say that's a really big part of who I am. Everything just kept building for me from sixth grade, all the way up to captain this year."
Ryan was named to the All-Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division team, to the Connecticut High School Coaches' Association Class M all-state team and was selected as an honorable mention All-American by US Lacrosse.
Ryan has been invited to the All-American Showcase in Florida on July 21, featuring 80 All-Americans from across the country. She'll even make ESPN (the final game is broadcast there).
"I'm so excited to have the opportunity to play with the best girls in the country," she said.
All of this comes after another successful season here. The Vikings (17-4) won the ECC tournament title and made the state semifinals.
Ryan comes by her athletic ability honestly. Her mother, Darra, played college soccer at Providence. It was also her mother who began calling her daughter "Kiki," which is short for Michaela, her given name.
Ryan chuckled at the thought of how "Kiki," not much of an intimidating sports name, wouldn't inspire much fear into opponents. Until they tried to stop her.
"That was my soccer name in middle school," Ryan said. "I introduced myself that way to all the East Lyme kids and no one really knew me as Michaela. Even my teachers call me that.
"But I have to say that I was planning to turn it back to Michaela before college. Then I realized that everyone at Stonehill has nicknames. So I'm keeping it."
Ryan becomes another college player in the conga line that has played at East Lyme. She's also proud to say that the only coach she's ever played for is Phil Schneider, who has led the Vikings to consecutive state semifinal berths.
"I've had coach as my coach since the sixth grade," she said. "He's always been there. It's awesome to have such a good relationship with him."
Ryan said that while the accomplishments and the victories are memorable, she'll remember the relationships the most.
"I had a great experience," Ryan said. "The people here are great. I have such good friends. I'll never forget it."
The Day's 2013 All-Area Girls' Lacrosse Team
Player of the Year - Kiki Ryan (East Lyme)
Attack - Allie Buckley (Old Lyme)
Attack - Daria McKenna (Fitch)
Attack - McKenzie Potter (Waterford)
Midfield - Jill Bartlett (East Lyme)
Midfield - Emily Cassata (Stonington)
Midfield - Megan Gada (NFA)
Midfield - Michaela Holland (Ledyard)
Midfield - Lindsay Schneider (East Lyme)
Midfield - Chloe Taylor (Fitch)
Defense - Libby Morrison (Stonington)
Defense - Paige Schneider (East Lyme)
Goalie - Jane Bartlett (East Lyme)
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