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High school lacrosse; Watertown’s Rick finally returns to field after long journey

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WATERTOWN — Taylor Rick plans to study neural science in college when she attends the University of Michigan in the fall.

This endeavor is appropriate as Rick, a senior co-captain for the Watertown High School girls lacrosse team, has experienced a variety of injuries during her varsity career.

She is finally enjoying nearly a full season with the Cyclones after being sidelined for the past two seasons with first a back injury and then several knee injuries, which could have proved devastating to her athletic career.

“She suffers quite a bit with a lot of pain and what-not, but she’s been able to get through it,” Watertown coach Tim Burr said. “We’ve held her out of a couple games as she’s had swelling and discomfort, but she’s done well and she is a real inspiration.”

After enduring multiple knee surgeries as well as rehabilitation, Rick showed plenty of determination and dedication in her desire to return to the lacrosse field.

“It’s good, I’m getting there,” Rick said of her lacrosse season. “It’s been a long time coming. I’m not doing as well as I hoped I would, but I’m playing, so that’s good enough for me.”

Rick missed her sophomore lacrosse season after suffering a back injury. Then as a junior, she injured her left knee just three games into the varsity soccer season.

She suffered damage to her knee, including a fracture and a dislocated joint, which required two surgeries in New York City.

“It was pretty debilitating, I couldn’t do much, I was very limited,” Rick said. “I still have issues, but it definitely isn’t as bad as a year and a half or two years ago.”

Through all this, Rick was determined to return to action on the lacrosse field.

“It came Christmas time (and) I said ‘I’m not going to listen to any more doctors,’ because I had a goal and that was to play lacrosse this year,” Rick said. “So I pushed myself, I started running, and I’m playing this year, so it’s something to be proud of.”

Her running regimen was a gradual one as she built up her strength and stamina.

“I started running a week after Christmas and within two months, I got up to jogging steadily,” Rick said. “And a few weeks before lacrosse started I still wasn’t sprinting, but I tried to run faster every day. Even when the season started, I still wasn’t quite ready to compete, so I did whatever I could in practice.”

Even when her prospects to play again appeared bleak, Rick tried to keep a positive attitude, which included joining her teammates on the sideline during games, even when she was still on crutches.

“She’s done it with a smile on her face and she’s never complained,” Burr said. “She’s never shown any resentment or anything — she just keeps going and going. And the two years she couldn’t play, she was at every single practice and every game and cheered the kids on. She’s a special kid who has really overcome a lot — and because of that I think she has a bright future ahead of her.”

Rick has played in 15 of Watertown’s 17 games this season, including the Cyclones’ 20-7 first-round victory over Auburn in a Section 3 Class B playoff game on Tuesday. As a forward, she’s scored 12 goals and assisted on five others this season.

In an all-Frontier League semifinal, Watertown (15-2) will face Carthage at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Chittenango High School.

“We have a really good team this year, and yeah, we had a few rough patches like against South Jeff and General Brown, but we’ve definitely pulled it together and I’m really excited for sectionals, I think we can do really well,” Rick said.

Rick is joined as a co-captain with Cyclones teammates Courtney Neddo and Morgan Girardi.

“She’s played a huge leadership role in the success of our season,” Burr said of Rick. “I think if anybody is looking for to make excuses during practice or during a game, they just have to look over their shoulder and see how hard she’s working — and I think it motivates everybody even more.”

A member of the National Honor Society as well as several non-athletic clubs at Watertown High, Rick enjoys and excels in both math and science and is looking forward to attending Michigan.

“I’ve always been interested in the medical field,” said Rick, who also wants to attend medical school after college. “And through my injury, my eyes have been opened to so many new things in the medical field. Neural science is like combining biology and psychology in your brain. What I want to do is I want to major in genomic research, so it’s about genetic diseases and also hopefully helping people with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s just fascinating to me, I want to have a job where I learn something new every day.”

Rick also hopes to play lacrosse for the Wolverines, whose fledgling program won four games this year in its first season at the Division I level.

“It’s been a really long road,” Rick said. “And there were times when I definitely questioned whether I wanted to play lacrosse again. I’ve had dreams of playing in college my whole life. And there were times where people were like ‘Taylor, don’t push it, don’t ruin your life because you want to play lacrosse.’ But I wasn’t going to give up on this goal because of an injury. Mind you, it was a pretty substantial one, but I had a goal and I was going to achieve it.”

WHS’S MCKINNEY ALL-AMERICAN

Watertown senior attackman Brad McKinney has been selected as a USCLA All-American, becoming the second Cyclone in three seasons to garner the honor.

McKinney finished with 57 goals this season to lead the Frontier League in scoring and stands second in points (80).

Goalie Matt Netto was also honored as an All-American for Watertown, in 2012. Other Cyclone All-Americans in lacrosse include current Indian River coach Greg Niewieroski in 2004 and Kenny Nims in 2005, with the last two moving on to play at Syracuse.

COFFMAN HONORED

Jason Coffman, in his first year as an assistant coach with the Carthage boys team, has been selected as Section 3’s assistant coach of the year.

Interestingly, Coffman, who serves as the Comets’ defensive coordinator, was an offensive force, both at Carthage and collegiately at Salisbury, where he finished and remains as the NCAA career leader in goals (249) and points (451).

Coffman was also honored as the Frontier League’s assistant coach of the year for boys lacrosse.



Sportswriter Chris Fitz Gerald covers lacrosse for the Times. He can be reached at cfitzgerald@wdt.net

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