Wright's Stamper shows she's good sport

C. M.

Girls lacrosse: Kadie Stamper always considered herself the consummate all-around athlete, but it took her a little while to appreciate what lacrosse had to offer.

High Schools

April 04, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Kadie Stamper wasn't having it.

The more her mother tried to convince her to play lacrosse, the more Stamper resisted.

She already played basketball, softball and soccer -- and was itching to join a football and wrestling team -- but lacrosse?

"I hated it when I first played, just thought it was so dumb," recalled Stamper, now a senior standout for No. 6 C. Milton Wright. "It was all the whistles, all the restrictions and not enough checks. I didn't want to play at all."

Stamper was ultimately convinced to give lacrosse a try the old-fashioned way: She was bribed.

"My mom bet me that I would like it and said that she would pay me if it turned out to a be a disaster," Stamper said. "Of course, me being a kid, I would do anything for the money."

It was one bet the ultra-competitive Stamper hasn't minded losing.

After just five years of playing the sport, Stamper, 18, a four-year varsity member for the Mustangs, has developed into one of the metro area's standouts, good enough to earn a full scholarship to play next spring at Johns Hopkins.

If her 37-goal, 31-assist performance last spring, earning her Harford County Player of the Year honors, was considered a breakthrough, the first two weeks of this season, where she has 12 goals and two assists, have been an affirmation of her talents.

"Even back in eighth grade, she really showed an incredible amount of talent as far as the ability to get to the ball and run the field," said Mustangs coach Carl Greenberg, whose team is 3-0 and was a Class 4A-3A finalist last season. "Her presence has gotten bigger and bigger every year."

In the Mustangs' opener against then-No. 6 St. Mary's, Stamper scored in the waning seconds of the first overtime to forge a tie, then gave her team a 9-8 victory by tallying her fourth goal in the second overtime.

Three days later, the team captain burned then-No. 12 South River with four goals and an assist, in an 11-9 Mustangs victory.

"The seniors last year were kind of intimidating because they were so good, and I felt it was their year to shine," said Stamper, who picked Johns Hopkins over Loyola and North Carolina. "I think this year, I'm being a little more selfish. I want to be the one that scores the big goal or makes the key assist. I want the ball to be in my stick."

Said Mustangs senior defender Sarah Gallion, also bound for Johns Hopkins: "She's one of those players you can count on to have a solid game no matter what, but what makes her stand out is she knows exactly when we need a goal or when we need to slow it down."

Surrounded by talented offensive players such as Christina Frank, Kara Dorr, Gina Maranto and Katie McHugh, Stamper doesn't need to score to hurt the opposition. At 5 feet 10 and with tremendous speed and power, Stamper can control games by winning draws and dominating on ground balls.

"My strengths definitely aren't my stick and my shooting," said Stamper, who said that playing with the North Eastern Maryland Select program in Harford County has helped her improve her skills. "I'm still not so good at the fundamentals, but I'm real competitive and I like to run."

And just like in soccer, where Stamper's nose for the goal and the ball contributed to a second-team All-Metro season, she doesn't exactly shy away from contact.

She already has four yellow cards (most because of aggressive checks), but what would you expect from someone who calls football her favorite sport?

Stamper once had her mother phone the Bel Air recreation football program to ask if a girl could play on one of the teams. When their request was denied, Stamper turned to wrestling, but that didn't work either, as Stamper was told that there weren't any singlets for girls to wear.

Said Linda, Kadie Stamper's mother: "We were like, `Where did this kid come from?' I was a total girlie girl, and my husband did sports, but not to the extent she did. She was outside all the time and had all this endless energy."

"I was always playing sports with the boys in the neighborhood," said Kadie Stamper, who has a 3.5 grade point average and is hoping to pursue a career in physical therapy. "I was a tomboy. I didn't own a dress, never had a Barbie in my life. I used to get Barbies for my birthday, and I'd exchange them for soccer balls and basketballs."

Soccer was always Stamper's favorite sport -- "I grew up wanting to be the next Mia Hamm and had posters of her in my room," she said -- but that started to change when she arrived at a high school with a strong tradition of lacrosse success.

The Mustangs girls have won six consecutive Harford County crowns and reached the state semifinals in seven of the past nine seasons.

Stamper laughs when she thinks about some of her teammates leafing through magazines and marveling over the latest lacrosse equipment. She often gets lost when her teammates talk about college lacrosse and the top players and top teams.

Stamper admitted that she didn't even know who former Maryland star Jen Adams, regarded as one of the best female players ever, was until last year.

"You sit down and talk to her about it and she doesn't know what's going on sometimes, but that has no bearing on how she plays," said Gallion, who has been a teammate of Stamper's in various sports since she was 5.

"She really doesn't care about who are the top scorers and what are the best schools and all of that stuff. She just wants to be a better player and make her team better. That's all she cares about."

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