Grace Gavis, the junior breakout star of Kingston High’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team, was recently named a U.S. Lacrosse All-American for 2017 in a season where she amassed 58 goals — including the 100th of her high school career — and 21 assists.
“That was a surprise,” said Gavis, who learned the news from Kingston coach Deb Eaton. “It was so meaningful. It made me feel like I was really recognized as a key player. It felt really good.”
Gavis, who’s been a member of the varsity team since the eighth grade, discovered lacrosse a year or two earlier when she began playing in the Port Ewen Athletic Association.
“I really liked how it was more fast-paced,” she said. “I was playing softball at the time, and honestly it got a little bit boring. I think it was really cool that it was a team sport, where we were working together really well towards a common goal. I immediately knew I wanted to continue playing. It wasn’t even a question to switch back for me.”
Though she’d had success in her first three years at the varsity level, the 2016 graduation of Logan Brennan, the section’s all-time leading scorer, gave Gavis the opportunity to show what she was capable of.
“She was such a good player, and it was hard for all of us to shine,” said Gavis. “I think once she left, we all really had to step up to fill her spot because she was so good and we needed to keep the team up. Me, Kendall [Parker], Cameron [Letus], Olivia Prizzi, we needed to step up to fill her shoes, and I think we did that.”
Gavis said she was unaware that she was close to a career scoring milestone, one equaled by Parker, a senior, this season.
“That was so great,” Gavis said. “[Coach] Eaton called me the weekend before and said, ‘Yeah, you’re at 99 goals.’ I didn’t even know. It was really special. It was so great to have that milestone to show how far I’ve come since the beginning of my high school career.”
Gavis also made the Section IX All-Division I, Class A All-Star Team, alongside Parker and seniors Cameron Letus and Olivia Prizzi. Junior Analiese Amato and sophomore Juliana Sickler made the honorable mention team. Eaton said the Kingston-heavy All-Star list showed the strength of the Tigers up and down the roster.
“Possession is the game, and Juliana is the key to our center balls,” Eaton said. “If you don’t get the balls then, the rest of the team has to work harder to get it back. But once we had it we were able to maintain it most of the time.”
Gavis also earned another accolade in 2017, when she was named a co-captain of the Tigers midway through the season. Eaton said Gavis was an obvious choice, both in her ability as a player and a leader.
“Partway into the season she obviously was scoring a lot of goals and she really just stepped up her game and was really positive with the rest of the team,” Eaton said. “She was scoring multiple goals every game, and whenever anyone else would score she was very positive with them. She was just totally focused on the season. It was shortly after that I decided to make her a team captain as well just because of her leadership qualities that came out. Captains are usually seniors, but Grace just stepped up so much.”
The Tigers went 15-4 over the course of the 2017 season, winning their 11th straight sectional title, and the 15th out of 16 seasons of varsity play. It was the last for Coach Eaton, who helped create a program built for success even before the program went varsity in 2002. Eaton is retiring from coaching both the varsity girls’ lacrosse and field hockey teams.
“Nineteen years of field hockey and 18 years of lacrosse,” she said. “It’s been a great run. It is hard to step away, especially from the juniors. It’s difficult, but it’s time.”
Gavis and Amato will play their senior seasons in 2018 under a new coach for the first time in the history of the school’s varsity girls’ lacrosse program.
“We’re definitely going to have to keep pushing the younger girls,” Gavis said. “They’re the future of the team. We’ve always relied on a lot of sophomores and freshmen, I think. We really need to keep them in check, make sure they have their eye on the prize. It could be easy to slip when we don’t have Coach Eaton there to pound it in us.”
Though she’s got another year of high school lacrosse left, Gavis is already thinking about playing the game in college. She’s also planning to study biology with an eye toward one day becoming a doctor.
“I’m looking at academics first, but if I’m able to play D-III lacrosse that’s great,” Gavis said. “I might play on a club team too. I definitely want to stay active in college.”