Two Lee’s Summit girls will be competing on a national stage later this month.
Recent Lee’s Summit North graduate Mady Cline and Lee’s Summit graduate Katelynn Cox were both chosen as US Lacrosse All-Americans and to participate in the All-American Showcase July 21-23 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
“The coaches from our chamber got together at the beginning of the season and they nominated people,” Cox said. “They had to fill out this paperwork and sent it out to US Lacrosse. They had the final say in it. Even if you don’t go to the showcase in Florida, you are still an All-American. There are 400 of them. There are 80 girls that got selected...They decided out of the 400, the 80 that got to play in the show games.”
The 80 All-American girls’ lacrosse players are put on four different teams, Team Freedom, Team Liberty, Team Pride and Team Spirit. They play a round-robin tournament against each team and the winners will face off in a championship game that will be aired on ESPN3.
Cox and Cline will be on different teams in the showcase, but that’s something they are used to.
“It’s kind of cool,” Cline said. “I know multiple players on her team and she knows players on my team. It’s just fun being out there. You kind of goof around too until the game gets more serious. But until then, we just goof around and have fun out there.”
Both girls started playing sports when they were very young, particularly soccer and softball. When they entered high school, they were tired of playing the same sports, so they decided to give lacrosse a try.
“Toward middle school I started getting burned out because I had been playing them since I was 3,” Cline said. “I quit soccer my freshman year and my sophomore year I quit softball. Then they made the announcement that there was lacrosse and that’s something I haven’t done before, so I thought I would go out and try it.”
Cox’s story is similar, and the two even played soccer on the same team, but against each other in softball.
“Maybe my parents won’t be as mad if I quit softball and soccer if I take up another sport,” Cox said. “I took up lacrosse and loved it every since. My whole family plays it. My sister graduated in 2011, she was a goalie, my little sister going into eighth grade now and she plays.”
It is a family affair for both athletes, as their dads, Chris Cline and Brian Cox, coach their respective teams. The first season that Cline was on the team, the founder of Lee’s Summit lacrosse, Jon Ellis, coached both the girls and boys teams at Lee’s Summit North.
“It was hard on him to try to get to both games,” Cline said. “My brother played baseball and my dad was his coach for 10 years. When he graduated high school, my dad didn’t know what to do anymore, so he decided to coach. He read all the books and watched all the DVDs and figured it out.”
Cox’s dad has coached pretty much every team she has participated in, and started coaching lacrosse the first year she played. He also runs the youth lacrosse program in Lee’s Summit, taking a year off Cox’s junior year to focus on that.
“We were in desperate need of a coach, so he made a deal to coach for two years,” Cox said. “He coached this year and he will coach next year. He doesn’t want to coach against my sister, because she will go to Lee’s Summit West.”
The two players have different views on having their fathers as coaches. Cline said that her dad treats her the same as every other player, but just expects her to help get things set up; Cox said her father pushes her more.
“I feel like no one really understands how much harder it is to have him as a coach,” Cox said. “Everyone is like, ‘Oh, that’s cool, you get to see your dad all the time.’ I mean, it’s awesome, I love my dad, but he pushes me a lot harder and expects a lot more out of me than he would expect out of someone else.”
Lacrosse has become more and more popular in Lee’s Summit, and according to Cox, the youth program is a big part of that success.
“My dad and Jon Ellis were pushing at the elementary schools to make it a PE segment,” Cox said. “We have had so many girls come out to the youth practices and spreading the word a lot. Once one girl likes it, she tells her friends and we have a big, giant group and it’s great. It’s just going to grow bigger from now on.”
Cline agrees that the program will just keep getting stronger.
“It takes so many sports and puts them together into one sport,” Cline said. “No matter what sport you come from, or even if you didn’t come from a sport, you can find your place in it. You will recognize this from soccer or from basketball and it’s just a lot of fun.”
The All-American Showcase may be the last time that Cline gets to play lacrosse, as she is attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study music.
“They have a guys team, but not a girls team. They had a program unil a year or two ago and it fell apart,” Cline said. “I had the opportunity to start it up again. I talked to some referees that were going to help me, but I don’t know if I’ll have time.”
Cox, on the other hand, will continue to compete in lacrosse this fall. She accepted an athletic scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado and will be studying pre-physical therapy.