GCDS Alums & College Lacrosse

Over the decades, numerous GCDS alumni have gone on to success on college varsity teams, in both Division I and III. This spring, we had the opportunity to talk with eight alums about their recent collegiate lacrosse experience. We hope that their stories, memories of playing at GCDS, and advice will inspire the student athletes at GCDS today.

Utilize all your resources and don't be afraid to ask questions. My keys to success, when I look back on my career, are in areas that are available to everybody: I watched more film. I wasn't afraid to lean on upperclassmen for advice. What are you seeing on this play? What led you to do that? What should I do?Larken Kemp, GCDS Class of 2010

Brown University

LARKEN KEMP, GCDS CLASS OF 2010
BROWN UNIVERSITY
DENVER OUTLAWS, BOSTON CANNONS
POSITION: LSM

As a team captain his senior year, Larken Kemp helped lead Brown to an Ivy League Championship and a NCAA Final Four run. A three-time All-American and four-time All-Ivy selection, he was consistently ranked among the top players nationally in both caused turnovers and groundballs. With the long-stick skills of a defender and the offensive acumen of a midfielder, Larken is known for helping to innovate the LSM position during his time at Brown, graduating as the Division I NCAA record holder in career points for a LSM. “In the moment, I never looked at what we were doing as something new. The way I viewed it was simply, ‘What can I do to help the team?’ When coach gave us the metaphorical green light to push the ball in transition and to make plays, that was extremely natural for me,” says Larken. “I feel strongly that’s how the game should be played. I love when I turn on the TV now; there are a lot more programs around the country that are open to allowing their defensive midfielders and their LSMs to make plays in space. That’s great for lacrosse—higher scoring games and more excitement.”

Larken Kemp, Denver Outlaws

In 2017, Larken was drafted to the Denver Outlaws and is in his second season of Major League Lacrosse, now playing for the Boston Cannons following a trade in May. “It’s the dream come true. I understand that it doesn’t have the fame and fortune of the four major leagues, but what I love about it is that I’m playing against my idols, playing with the best, doing what I love.” Reflecting on his dedication to MLL, he adds, “I think deep down, the reason we all play is that we feel like we are the torch bearers to try and help grow this sport in this country.”

Describing his GCDS experience, Larken recalls, “I was actually a short stick, a midfielder, and I was just a role guy. We had some superstar players, but I definitely was not anything close to it, which, honestly, I think laid a great foundation because it taught me I had to work to gain an inch at every level.”

“Why I look back so fondly on my experience at GCDS is that it had the perfect combination of being extremely demanding while being super supportive. The teachers and staff put you in the best possible position to demand the most out of yourself—from both an academic and an athletic standpoint. Coaches like Mr. Bowes and Mr. Walmsley fundamentally believed I could be a really good lacrosse player—and half the battle when you’re growing up as a kid is convincing yourself to work at it.”

Cornell University Logo

JOEY COFFEY, GCDS CLASS OF 2011
CORNELL UNIVERSITY
POSITION: MIDFIELDER

Joey Coffey

“I think the great thing about Cornell is that so long as you work hard—in the weight room, on the track, on the turf, in practice—the coaches are willing to give you a chance if they think you’re going to make a difference,” says Joey Coffy, who had a unique experience of playing three different positions—defender, midfielder, and attack—during her time at Cornell. In each position, her commitment to hard work and improvement showed through. A First Team Regional All-American and two-time First Team All-Ivy selection, Joey played every game during all four years and, even though she only played midfielder for part of two seasons, holds several school records for draw controls.

"Hone in on what you care about, what's important to you, and, once you identify those things, put your best self into it." - Joey Coffey, GCDS Class of 2011

Growing up as a dancer and gymnast, Joey was new to athletics when she came to GCDS in sixth grade. “I was actually a little tentative playing lacrosse because it’s kind of intimidating if you’ve never played sports before—you have to catch this tiny little ball with this tiny little stick—but I had a lot of friends who encouraged me to play,” she remembers. “I really like to be good at what I do, and I was so bad that I was determined to get better at it—not to mention that the sport is so fun. I just remember coming home from school every day and throwing the lacrosse ball against my garage. My dad would always yell at me because he was trying to get work done.”

“I think the great thing about Green­wich Country Day is the culture that it fosters. It’s one of support and one of love. I had really good coaches who believed in me and teammates who supported me when I did something great but also when I made mistakes.”

 

"Work ethic. I was never the most talented guy by any means. If you work hard, you can do anything, especially in the lacrosse game. Working on your stick work is something anyone can do—it doesn't matter about athleticism, it just requires practice. So definitely I would say hard work is number one and trumps everything else." - Sean New, GCDS Class of 2013

 

College of the Holy Cross Logo

SEAN NEW, GCDS CLASS OF 2013
COLLEGE OF THE HOLY CROSS
POSITION: DEFENDER

“Playing at the college level is definitely more difficult and you have to balance your time with school. The sense of integrity and Tiger Pride—you don’t forget about that later on in life. The values that they teach at GCDS are helpful and really mean a lot,” says Sean New, who has earned Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in his first two years at Holy Cross in addition to success on the field. Starting both freshman and sophomore year, Sean was in the top 10 for caused turnovers in the Patriot League for most of this year.

Sean New

Recalling his experience playing lacrosse at GCDS, Sean says, “I remember having a great experience. It was cool to have players who didn’t necessarily play lacrosse outside of school and being able to teach them. You get put in a leadership role staying that extra year at GCDS—especially on sports teams—and that translates to high school and college.”

“One of the biggest factors in my skill development at that age was working with John Collette, an assistant Lower School teacher who had been a defensive player at Bucknell and helped coach our team my ninth grade year. I took a big stride from eighth to ninth grade. Later, during the recruiting process, he called my coaches before I committed to Holy Cross. Having someone like that from GCDS who cared so much and would call the coaches in my favor is really cool and something you probably don’t see many places at a middle school.”

University of Vermont Logo

JACK KNIGHT, GCDS CLASS of 2012
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
POSITION: ATTACK

"Don't be satisfied with where you're at; you can always get better. Even the best players in the country are trying to improve. Watching college lacrosse gives you an idea of how much better you need to get. Just keep trying to reach your maximum ability." - Jack Knight, GCDS Class of 2012

Jack Knight started his collegiate career at University of Vermont earning America East All-Rookie Team selection and has just completed his junior year, playing in all 16 games and contributing to the strongest season in UVM’s history as part of the team that went 12-4 and reached the America East Conference Championship. “You build really special relationships because you spend so much time together working toward the same goal,” says Jack. “It really feels like you’ve got a family in your locker room.”

Jack Knight

As a ninth grader at GCDS, Jack received the Brennikmeyer award, presented to the athlete who puts the team first, always gives extra effort, and is patient with teammates who are less skilled. “GCDS gives you the opportunity for the first time to play with kids who aren’t your own age—which teaches you valuable leadership qualities that maybe you hadn’t really learned yet.”

“I thought the lacrosse tournament that GCDS hosts was a cool experience because that was one of the first times my classmates were able to watch our team play. My ninth grade year we were in a really close game with New Canaan, and we had scored a goal to go up by 1 with 30 seconds left—I remember looking over and seeing Mr. Harrington jumping up and down. It was the most excited I’ve ever seen him.”

 

University of Richmond Logo

CAROLINE QUEALLY, GCDS CLASS OF 2011
RICHMOND UNIVERSITY
POSITION: MIDFIELDER

Caroline Queally


The first player in Richmond program history to win 300 draw controls with a total of 362, Caroline Queally was part of a historic season for the Spiders this year, winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and advancing to first round of the NCAA Tournament. “It was an unbelievable experience,” she says. “Being able to represent something bigger than yourself and to become part of this body of student athletes who all had a common goal was something that helped me with time management and all the different aspects of college. It taught me a lot about myself, and how, even when I think that I can’t push myself harder, I can endure a lot more than I think is possible. And that’s something for which I’m extremely grateful. This year we were able to win our conference, which was one of the most amazing feelings ever.”

“When I think about playing lacrosse at GCDS—and all sports at GCDS—it was a great team environment, and that allowed me to grow not only as a person but also as a player. GCDS sports taught me to always try your best. You’d have teams that really challenged you and teams that you’d go into the game knowing that you likely were going to win. Something that we were always told was, ‘Always play to your potential.’ That lesson carried me through college lacrosse. GCDS embedded in my mind that it was not an appropriate mindset to go into a game thinking you don’t have to try hard, and I think that’s really important in life as well.”

"Something that allowed me to be tenacious and always give 110% was remembering that it was bigger than myself." - Caroline Queally, GCDS Class of 2011

University of Michigan Logo

TOMMY HEIDT, GCDS CLASS OF 2011
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
POSITION: GOALIE

As one of the top high school goalies in the country—a two-time US Lacrosse All-American and ranked as the #1 goalie in the Inside Lacrosse Power 100—Tommy Heidt had the opportunity to choose between going to an established powerhouse or a new program at Michigan. “I wanted to build something, establish a culture,” he says. “Being a pioneer, holding the torch. Along with spreading the game in the Midwest, we were the first senior class to do a lot of things: first winning season, first top-5 win, so I was really proud of that. We wanted to put Michigan on the map, and that’s what we did. It was a cool experience, and I suggest it. You learn a ton.”

Tommy Heidt

“We grew up playing town lacrosse, which was fun, but I remember the first time just the GCDS kids were on our own team,” says Tommy. “It was one of the first times that you had GCDS pride. I remember believing in the school and taking it personally—it was the start of rivalries. Traveling with the team, sportsmanship, school pride—those things were at the forefront.”

“At practice, Mr. Walmsley used to talk about the GCDS alumni who were playing in college. That really inspired me. I definitely looked up to older alumni and tried to be like them.”

"Really enjoy it. I think that you end up doing well at things that you really like. You've got to put in the hours in addition to practice. Take it seriously, but savor every moment of it. I ended up doing well because I had the mentality: how awesome is this? I'm playing with my best friends; I'm playing for the school that I really love." - Tommy Heidt, GCDS Class of 2011

Colorado College Logo

CAROLINE KELLER, GCDS CLASS OF 2014
COLORADO COLLEGE
POSITION: MIDFIELDER

Caroline Keller

“I really wanted to play in college because I saw from a young age at GCDS that having a team is one of the most important things for me. In college especially, it helps me manage my time and gives me a set group of people who become my best friends—and it’s so fun, too,” says Caroline Keller. “I see a similarity between GCDS and Colorado College because there is a very positive energy and a focus on sportsmanship.” She had a great freshman season as a part of a CC team that has been building over the course of the past few years and this year advanced to regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

"Sportsmanship is a huge factor that we learned from GCDS." - Caroline Keller, GCDS Class of 2014

“In seventh grade, being on varsity at GCDS and being able to play with ninth graders was such an honor. As I got older, in ninth grade, we felt like team leaders—and that leadership and team spirit was something I really appreciated and enjoyed.” One of the 2014 Brenninkmeyer award recipients her ninth grade year, Caroline exemplified positive leadership in supporting her team and teammates. “At GCDS,” she says, “the coaches—Mrs. Rourke, Mr. Helstein, and Mrs. Sepot—really cared about the sport and they wanted to win, but they also cared about sportsmanship and friendship. The friends that I made on my GCDS lacrosse team are still my best friends today.”

UNC Logo

SEAN MORRIS, GCDS CLASS OF 2014
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
POSITION: MIDFIELDER

Sean Morris

Considered one of the top incoming midfielders this past fall, Sean Morris frequently started as a freshman, and as noted by his coach, “He did a tremendous job, is a great shooter, a tremendous distributor. He’s like a basketball player on the lacrosse field.” Thinking about the opportunity to play for UNC, Sean says, “I’m so blessed to be able to go to a school like North Carolina. It’s a great education and a beautiful spot. Our head coach, Joe Breschi preaches three things: family, academics, and lacrosse. Family first, and then academics, and then lacrosse is more of a privilege than anything.”

"Consistency. I think the GCDS coaches preached that every day—just being consistent with how hard you work. Even if it's only 30 minutes a day, as long as you're out there trying to get better, that's a big part of trying to succeed later in life." -  Sean Morris, GCDS Class of 2014

“GCDS mentors you and guides you to become a young man, but it really hits you once you’re in college. For me, coming to GCDS, playing lacrosse with all these guys, with great coaches and some great future players, that was the foundation. We have to pay tribute to GCDS from such a young age teaching us all the fundamentals and getting us prepared for high school and, later on, the college level, too.”

“Today, I still hang out with guys that I was friends with in fourth grade. They’re still some of my best friends, so it shows the connections that GCDS makes from such a young age, how much you share this bond with your fellow players and classmates at GCDS.”