Lacrosse Q&A: Navy defender Kierstin King

Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to help you become more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Navy senior defender Kierstin King, a Hereford graduate and three-time All-Patriot League selection. The Midshipmen's only team captain, she is Navy's career leader in ground balls with 150. Despite missing the last six games of her sophomore year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, she will break the program record for career starts Friday in the Patriot League semifinals when the two-time defending champion Mids (15-2) host American at 5 p.m.

Why did you choose the Naval Academy?

I liked it because of the opportunities. More than other school I had visited, it had the rigorous academics and it has an automatic opportunity for your career and being part of something greater than yourself in serving your country. When I came here on a visit, the girls here had something unique. There's a pure determination to be the best. Even though their skills weren't amazing and they didn't have quite as much talent, there was not lack of determination.

How much did lacrosse figure into your decision?

Pretty significantly, but by no means did I put it first. My thought was if something were to happen like tearing an ACL, like I did, would I be happy there, and Navy fit all the qualities that I wanted. Lacrosse was pretty much an add-on, something that I loved and would be able to pursue.

Your father was in the Navy. How much did he play into your decision?

Definitely, it kind of helped our relationship. I've seen how much he's done and the friends that he has from the Navy were closer than any friends that I've seen, and I just wanted that for myself. And just seeing the opportunities that he's had during the Navy was pretty inspiring.

How has playing lacrosse enhanced your experience at Navy?

It is obviously only 20 percent female here, so having those girls to always go to and be your sisters here at school is like no other experience. The guys are great here, but at the end of the day, you need some really close girlfriends that really understand you. Also just the leadership experiences that it brings to the table. You have those experiences back in [Bancroft] Hall, but at the same time, there's just more on the line than there would be in other opportunities to lead. Also when we win, it's more excitement when you have your best friends there with you winning, and when you lose [it's] the same thing. It's exciting to have them pick you up. The camaraderie that you have is like no other.

Going into this weekend's Patriot League tournament, what will be the key to winning a third straight conference title?

We've played all these teams before and we have won, so it's just treating it like another game and another opponent, and not necessarily reflecting on what happened last time — to treat it like a new opportunity to win.

What makes the Navy defense so tough? You allow only 7.5 goals a game.

We definitely have more of an experienced defense with Dominique (Wright) and myself. I think it comes down to the defense having a unity and because we have played with each other for a while, it's just that understanding sometimes where don't say it but you just do it. I think it's just really the trust and camaraderie that we have.

What has been the highlight of your Navy lacrosse career?

As weird as this is going to sound, I think tearing my ACL was, and I say that because it kind of reinvited the love I have for the game. When you get something taken away from you, you really miss it and it kind of re-instilled how much I really do love it. When I was able to play again, it was such a blessing that I could because the opportunity to play can just be taken away in a day.

What are you looking forward to about graduation week?

Just being with my family. Everyone gets a house here for graduation week and just spending that time together, because they've been through it the whole step of the way and they know everything that I have done here. It's almost like a thank you for being my No. 1 supporters.

What is your service commitment, and why did you choose it?

I'm surface warfare METOC [Meteorology and Oceanography Command]. What I studied here is oceanography and meteorology as my major, and just had a passion for it. I knew I wanted to be on a ship, but I didn't know that I wanted to go straight surface warfare. I wanted another option, so I'll go to grad school and study meteorology and become a meteorologist for the Navy.

Do you set sail this summer or do you go to grad school next?

This summer, I go to my ship and we're actually leaving for deployment shortly after. Grad school is after I get my SWO pin, which is a qualification that you need to be a surface warfare officer. It takes about two years. With grad school, you owe back, so I'll continue to stay in for at least seven years [rather than just the five-year mandatory service requirement].