Smith Voc. lacrosse player making her mark on the field

When one high school lacrosse player didn’t have a place to play, she made one and now, she’s continuing to make history.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - When one high school lacrosse player didn’t have a place to play, she made one and now, she’s continuing to make history.

“Oh, this is football with sticks…You get to hit, you get to run…Everything is different, so I literally had to learn new rules,” said Kora Kelly, a senior on the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School boy’s lacrosse team.

Switching from girl’s to boy’s lacrosse has its bumps and its bruises.

“The guys will either be super nice because I’m a girl or want to hit me harder,” Kelly added.

At Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, they’ve never fielded a girls lacrosse team.

“I’ve played girls lacrosse forever and Smith never had it, so eighth-grade year, I was like ‘Okay, I’ll play with the boys,’” Kelly explained.

However, if it wasn’t for Kelly, lacrosse might not exist at all. When the Vikings returned to the field for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, participation numbers were dwindling until the senior stepped up. However, head coach Joe Cortese told Western Mass News that that’s nothing new.

“[The] athletic director tried shutting us down and I sent him an email and I was like ‘Hey, we have enough kids. Can we at least just practice for the rest of the year, please?’” Kelly said.

“She’s a go-getter, a leader. If I said ‘Hey, someone do this.’ She’d say, ‘Okay, I got you. I can do it,’” Cortese added.

When Kelly speaks, everyone listens.

“She will be like, ‘Guys, we really need to do this’ and they listen to her. I don’t know why, but they just listen,” Cortese explained.

On the roster, Kelly is listed as an attacker, but off the field, she’s the team mom.

“I’m with a bunch of teenage boys, try to keep them in line,” Kelly noted.

“Whether it be snacks, water, whatever, she’s got it, Band Aids in the purse,” Cortese noted.

Kelly doesn’t just play with the boys. She dominates.

[Reporter: Is it more rewarding when you get it in the back of the net?]

“Oh my God, yeah,” Kelly said.

Cortese explained that other coaches take notice.

“Not so many this year, I think it’s [because] we’re beating them, but last year, every game ‘You got a girl on your team? No way. Oh my God, she’s hitting people. This, that.’ I’m like ‘Yeah, so?’” Cortese said.

Next year, after her playing days are over, she’ll trade out this set of pipes for a new one.

“I’ve got nails on, but I’m also a plumber…I’m going to get my journeyman and masters license, so I can possibly start my own business,” Kelly said.

She shared a message to the other girls watching her success.

“If you are scared, don’t let your fears overcome you and let them empower you to do more,” Kelly said.

Last year, Kelly became the first junior in school history to win the prestigious Donna Carter Award, which is presented to a three-sport female captain who’s a good player, good leader, and good sportsman.