When New York native and Florida lacrosse player Kelsey Hart traveled down the east coast to her new home at the University of Florida, she had no problem adapting to her new lifestyle.
“It was definitely a big change, coming from up north to here. I find it a little slower, the driving’s a lot different and just the way everyone lives. But the people here are really nice and the Gator Nation is a great place to live,” Hart said.
She isn’t the only one who chose to head down south. Twenty-three of the 28 Florida lacrosse players are from states in the northeastern region.
Kelsey got an early start to the game when her dad signed her up to play at age four; her love for lacrosse continued to grow as she played for her local club team through high school. Now a college sophomore, she is a consistent member of the Florida lacrosse defensive lineup.
“I think that this year is a lot different because it’s phase two, the seniors have graduated and it’s just our time, even as sophomores, to step up to the plate,” said Hart.
With practice six days a week, early morning weightlifting and conditioning sessions, as well as weekends traveling out of state, the Gator lacrosse team spends the majority of its time together. But “FLAX”, as they call themselves, still can’t seem to get enough of each other.
“We’re all so close,” Hart said. “Whether it’s dinner on a Friday night or going to the movies, everyone is always texting each other saying ‘let’s go here’ or ‘let’s go there’, so I’d say we’re a very close-knit team.” “As soon as I came to the school, I knew that this is where I wanted to go. If it wasn’t the weather, it was the facility, it’s amazing, and Mandy [O’Leary] is just a great coach and person.”
Describing the atmosphere at practice as “always positive”, Kelsey understands the importance of keeping each other up and going even when someone is having a bad day.
When asked about her best memory so far as a Gator, Hart told a funny story.
“One of my favorites was Florida Letterman Awards last year where we put on a performance. We actually did the Pitch Perfect dance in front of the Gator athletes.”