First Posted: 11/25/2014
DALLAS – Senior Kennedy Straitiff accomplished a first for the Dallas School District. She earned a college scholarship to play lacrosse.
The Trucksville resident landed a Division 2 scholarship with Lenoir–Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina.
Straitiff began playing the sport with friends in sixth grade through the local Back Mountain Bandits club team and developed a love of the game.
“I played a lot of other sports, but I never enjoyed them as much as I did lacrosse,” Straitiff said. “It was easier to pick up.”
Kennedy’s mom, Christy Straitiff, credited Bandits’ coaches Alex Wilson and Jeff Norris for teaching the basics and instilling confidence in the players.
“They were very patient coaches and made her feel really good about herself,” Christy Straitiff said.
While attending a camp at Syracuse University, the coaches suggested Straitiff join a travel lacrosse team to hone her skills. She was later accepted to join several teams and chose Aftershock Lacrosse in Collegeville, about a two-hour drive from the Back Mountain area, during the summer of her eighth-grade year.
Aftershock Director Jenn Medaglia praised Straitiff’s commitment to the sport and willingness to travel to reach her goals.
“She knew what she wanted and went for it,” Medaglia said. “It took an absolutely amazing level of love of the game from Kennedy and an amazing level of commitment from her family.”
Medaglia believes Straitiff’s command of the game stood out to college recruiters.
“As a defender, she is really good at communicating and working with her teammates and the goalie,” she said. “They are all looking for something specific for their teams and I think her leadership really stood out.”
One of Straitiff’s best memories from her career at Dallas High School was when her coach, Kim Athanas, let the defender play on offense for the first time.
“At first, I was really nervous, but I ended up scoring a bunch of goals,” Straitiff, 17, said.
According to Athanas, Straitiff’s ability to be a threat on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball made her an effective high school player.
“She knows how to work the ball and make use of her left and right hands,” Athanas said. “She was really able to show off her stick skills while playing offense.”
Athanas added that Straitiff always strives to make the team better as a whole and is a great teammate.
“She might not speak out, but she’s always asking how we can improve,” Athanas said. “She is a great individual and is always working hard. While she may be a little shy, she definitely has a great personality.”
After taking a visit to Lenoir-Rhyne, Straitiff knew it was the place where she wanted to continue her athletic and academic careers.
“I like that it’s a small school and I got along best with the girls and coaches there,” she said.
The daughter of William and Christy Straitiff plans to enroll in the university’s Physicians Assistant program.