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Name change needed for Dolphin’s record-setting Stewart

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Just about everyone associated with the women’s lacrosse team is tagged with a nickname, and in the case of sophomore Kaitlin Stewart, it quite naturally is Stewie.

Perhaps the team moniker maker will consider changing some letters and make it Steady.

An All-National Lacrosse Conference second-team selection last season, one goal at a time, one game at a time, the midfielder now holds the school record for consecutive games with a goal scored – 11 – and steadily is stating her case for a repeat honor.

The scoring seems to be a reflection of Stewart on the field. Even keeled and seemingly not as prone to the emotional highs and lows some of her peers ride.

“I think I’m a steady player,” Stewart said. “I do what I need to do and I think I help on all aspects of the field and I don’t really try to overstep my limits. I just do what’s expected of me and produce results.”

Indeed she does.

In six games this season she has six goals, two assists nine ground balls, eight draw controls, and three caused turnovers to her credit and says her on-field demeanor comes naturally and was there as early as her freshman year.

“I’m pretty even-keeled,” she said. “Last year I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I’m a freshman it’s going to be crazy and all over the place’ but as soon as I start playing I get into a zone and everything is really calm and relaxed for me.”

She’s so even-keeled, she wasn’t aware of her 11-game streak that stretches back to last season.

“That’s awesome,” she said. “I’m just doing what I like to do. If the opportunity arises I am going to capitalize on it.”

She’s been playing since first grade growing up in Annapolis, Md., so going to college to play was a foregone conclusion.

“It was something I saw in my future my entire life,” she said. “Coach Mindy (McCord) saw me playing in a tournament and we talked and the moment I came down I knew I wanted to be here. Obviously, there are some perks like the warm weather. Immediately, I knew this was the family I wanted to be part of because our team was so close. I feel really lucky this is where I was placed because there’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

She says her classmates have had much to do with her success.

“When we got here we clicked,” she said. “We could play freshmen vs. all and somehow we knew where each other was on the field and things clicked between us. We’re the biggest group of 14 best friends that could ever be.”

Stewart’s position coach, assistant Paul McCord, doesn’t particularly care if she is All-Conference. He doesn’t mince words as to her value.

“I think she’s one of the best midfielders in the country,” he said. “If you were to ask me who gets it done as a midfielder between the 30s, she’s the best in the country, she does a great job.”

McCord admits he might not be objective about Stewart but is quick to point out that facts are facts.

“I don’t think I’m objective but I look at her production and how many times she clears the ball, how many times she gets the ball back on the ride, and how she does on the draw,” he said. “Defensively, she’s strong and offensively she scores every game and that’s what makes a good middle. She’s not just someone who gets it done between the 30s but that’s where she excels at. If you were to put a price tag on getting it done between the 30s she’d be a first-round draft choice.”

McCord earned a lot of respect for the graphic design major after she hit a rough patch last fall and in early spring.

“One of the neat things about Kaitlin that no one sees was that she was trying to work through some stuff,” he said. “She was having a hard time in practice, a hard time on her shooting, and has overcome a lot. You don’t see it because she got it all ready for the big run. She did a remarkable job of taking feedback and transferring it into her game. Not many people can do that. Some people, when they get in a slump, it gets worse like an avalanche. She was able to focus her energy and come back better than she was before.”