NEW BEDFORD — An athlete for as long as she can remember, Kaitlyn Winterson was looking to challenge herself when she decided to give lacrosse a try in the sixth grade.
“It was something new and fun to do,” she said. “Everyone always played soccer. I’ve always played sports. I’ve been involved in basketball, soccer and softball. I hadn’t heard about lacrosse much. It was a new challenge.”
Winterson quickly fell in love with lacrosse, a sport she has excelled in at the high school level.
The GNB Voc-Tech senior recently became the first girls lacrosse player in school history to surpass 100 career goals.
“In terms of statistics, she definitely is a trailblazer in setting standards for the team,” said GNB Voc-Tech head coach Sarah Hartley. “Over the past four years, she’s been a part of our team becoming more competitive.”
Hartley has no doubt that Winterson will also succeed at the next level now that Winterson has signed to play lacrosse next year at Div. 3 Rhode Island College.
“At this level, she’s going to excel,” said Hartley, who played at Bridgewater State University. “I think there will be an adjustment being in a bigger pond, but she’ll fit right in.”
Hartley is the one who encouraged Winterson into thinking about playing in college.
“I wasn’t ever really serious about the sport until freshman year,” said Winterson, who started playing with the New Bedford Breakers (now New Bedford Youth Lacrosse). “I just thought I was pretty average. When my high school coach saw the potential, it made me think I could do more. The number one thing that inspired me is I was the only freshman on varsity that year. That was a shock to me.”
Hartley saw potential in Winterson from the start.
“She could right away pass and catch,” recalled Hartley. “I had her come to junior/senior tryouts and she was keeping up with some of the upperclassmen.
“Ever since she was a freshman, she always wanted to understand how to play well. She wanted to know the rules. She became a student of the game really early.”
Winterson attended local camps and clinics and would practice with her father, Kerry.
“My dad would always go and practice with me,” said Winterson. “Over the years, as each practice went by and games happened, I wanted to push myself and learn more.”
Hartley said that Winterson’s recent scoring milestone speaks volumes since the 100 goals came in just three seasons and were always in the flow of the game.
“We never just had her take it,” Hartley said. “It was natural. She was a good ball handler and the offense worked well with her. She played a role in getting us to the next level.”
Winterson felt like RIC was the right fit for her both athletically and academically.
“It’s very competitive,” she said of the nursing program. “It’s close to home and the campus is really good in general. Also some former teammates played on the team.”
Winterson joins an Anchorman team that went 2-6 in a shortened 2021 season.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “I know that it’s going to be a challenge. It’s taken more seriously. I’m going to be playing with girls that are way bigger, stronger and faster.
“I still have so much more to learn and I know that. I feel like college will give me more opportunities and experiences at a competitive level.”
Winterson is happy with how she’s leaving GNB Voc-Tech’s program.
“It was definitely a big milestone in my career and not only for me,” she said of surpassing 100 goals. “I want to motivate other girls to come to Voc-Tech and attract them for the lacrosse program. I feel this is only the beginning.”
When Winterson joined Voc-Tech’s lacrosse team in 2018, she didn’t know what to expect.
“I wasn’t shooting toward any goals specifically when I entered lacrosse my freshman year,” she said. “I had no idea the past four years would look like this.
“I just always brought energy. No matter what game it was or the outcome, I always would go in with a positive attitude. I tried to motivate everyone and always kept my head up.”