By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – Hard work and tenacity have helped Kayla Lee will continue her athletic career beyond the high school level.
The Durant senior signs on Wednesday to play lacrosse at Oklahoma Baptist University, an NCAA Division II program.
Lee becomes the first female lacrosse player from Durant to sign to play the sport collegiately and she said it means a lot to her.
“I’ve always wanted to go to OBU and then to be able to play the sport that I love there is an even better deal than I could have ever imagined,” Lee said.
She didn’t always play lacrosse. In fact, she wasn’t the first lacrosse player in her family.
“My brother (Michael Lee) started playing three years before I did,” Lee said. “And I was a softball girl all my life and I was like, ‘Oh no. I’m not going to try lacrosse. I play softball.’
“Then I went to a college game and it seemed like a lot of fun and I wanted to play. Ever since then, I’ve been playing lacrosse and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Her high school coach, Mike Delloro, said he couldn’t be more proud of her.
“She’s come from a softball background and played a lot of different sports growing up,” Delloro said. “But she found lacrosse in the last couple of years and she’s taken to it like a fish to water. She’s used a lot of skills from softball to grow and improve and she’s come to grow within the sport of lacrosse.
“She plays defense and one of the things about Kayla is that she’s tough. She gets out there in the trenches, and I know Coach Jordan (Beech) really saw her tenacity and that she can be really physical out there. Those are great traits to have in almost any sport.”
Lacrosse is a sport not offered as a varsity sport at Durant High School, but Lee plays with a club team based in Durant with other athletes from DHS. She also plays on a travel team based in Tulsa called Red Dirt. Typically, the travel team plays during the summer and the fall and the club team plays during the spring.
This kind of schedule means a lot of hours for Lee and she said it’s not easy, but that she encourages others to put forth that kind of effort.
“I play for two different teams and I have homework and everything, so you have to be really determined and open to play at this kind of level, which is really fun. And I think everyone should put in hours like that.”
Lee’s coach at Oklahoma Baptist, Jordan Beech, has had the opportunity to work with already and has been impressed with her work ethic.
“I first met Kayla back in April,” Beech said. “She one of two or three girls from Durant to come up and be on that team and that really shows that she wants to improve how she plays and to improve her lacrosse IQ.
“She is an incredibly hard-worker and the jump she made in her skill level from when we first got her in April to where she is now is really a testament to how hard she’s worked.”
Lee is one of 11 to sign to play lacrosse with OBU for next season and Beech said it is always exciting to get to sign a girl from Oklahoma.
“It’s not a very well represented sport at the high school level in the state and any time we can show girls in the state that if they work hard, they can play in college. It’s always a nice bonus for me having grown up and trying to help build Oklahoma lacrosse from the boys and girls side. And it’s great for Durant, as she’s the first one to sign with a college.”
Delloro also said what Lee is doing is something of which others should take note.
“I think Kayla is a trailblazer,” Delloro said. “It should show everybody that if Kayla can do it, all these girls here in the Bryan County area can do it as well. It just seems like more and more schools throughout the county are starting to offer lacrosse.
“I couldn’t be more proud of her. And to represent Durant and this area at OBU is going to be tremendous.”