Quaker Valley grad caps lacrosse career at W&J
Kelsey Kraus committed to play soccer at Washington & Jefferson after she graduated from high school. But when an opportunity arose to fill in a spot on the lacrosse team her freshman year, she couldn't turn it down.
Four years later, it is a decision she is happy she made.
“Lacrosse was low on numbers, and I didn't have anything to do,” the Quaker Valley grad said. “I thought I would miss playing lacrosse. I think it helped me. I grew up playing sports all year round. I don't think I would have known what to do without it.
“I think it helped me with my time management. I might of slacked off without it.”
Kraus finished second on the lacrosse team in points with 40 — 28 goals and 12 assists. The strong year brought her career total to 62 goals and 26 assists. In soccer, she finished the 2012 season with seven goals and three assists to bring her career totals to 12 and six.
The Presidents' lacrosse team was going through a bit of a transition year in 2013. Tracy Coyne was in her first year as the head coach at Washington & Jefferson, and the team was also young and inexperienced, with five freshmen and three-first year players from other sports — two from the soccer team and another from field hockey.
“We did pretty well considering we were so young with a new coach,” Kraus, a senior, said. “We started off rocky but, once we all got used to each other, our chemistry got better.”
The team finished the season with a 4-8 mark. The team won its final two games of the regular season — 17-10 over Ohio Wesleyan and a 15-11 over St. Vincent. But the streak was snapped as St. Vincent avenged its loss from two days earlier with a 10-9 win in the opening round of the Presidents' Athletic Conference tournament.
“It was definitely hard to finish the season that way,” Kraus said. “But I had a great season. I would of loved to beat St. Vincent, but it was still a great year.”
While it was a hard way to end her career, the impact Kraus had as a leader was large as she helped the first-year coaching staff transition.
“She was dedicated to the team's success,” Coyne said. “She would get frustrated but in a positive way. When we were not executing, she was making sure there was emphasis on completing plays.
“She was the kind of player as a senior that could take other players under her wing and offer encouragement and leadership.”
While her athletic career is now over, Kraus will have the memories to carry on. Instead of focusing on a big win or a big goal, it will be the little things that come to mind first, such as a trip south with the lacrosse team this season.
“We went to Florida over spring break and lost every game,” Kraus said. “We were on the beach as a team, and we got really close by hanging out. Everyone was in a great mood, and it was a real bonding experience.”