By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Medfield High School sophomore Kelly Blake was recently selected to play for the United States U-16 National Lacrosse Team.
"It is so exciting and such a huge honor to be selected to the USA team," said Blake when asked how it feels to be a member of Team USA. "I heard about this team a couple of years ago, and it was always in the back of my mind. Once I found out I could try out for it, I became focused on doing everything I could to improve my game and prepare for the tryout."
A TVL All-Star as a freshman last spring for Medfield High School's varsity team, Blake was one of 22 American girls selected to play for the team after a series of tryouts throughout the past year. Blake traveled to Maryland in August to complete the final stages of tryouts after making it through the initial set, which included over 1,000 athletes from across the country.
"The first round of tryouts were done regionally, either in person or virtually," explained Blake. "Over 1000 girls tried out nationwide, and approximately 75 U-16 girls were invited to Maryland this past August for the NTDP Combine (National Team Development Program). I was really excited to be selected for the combine. It was a three-day tryout that included both on-field skills, drills and scrimmages, as well as off-field workshops on strength and conditioning, recruiting, nutrition and sports psychology. It was an amazing experience where I learned so much and got a chance to meet other girls from all over the country. A few weeks later, I was notified that I was one of the 22 girls that made the U16 team."
So what now? Blake says she believes playing for such a high-level program like the U-16 National Team will allow her to continue to develop her game and better prepare for the next two years of high school - and potentially beyond. Blake and Team USA will play an October tournament in Maryland against fellow women's lacrosse heavyweights Canada and Iroquois Nation.
"I think being selected for the USA team will help better develop my game as I play along side some of the best in the country, while being coached by former USA players themselves," said Blake. "It is an amazing opportunity to strengthen my game and see what it’s like to play at the highest level. The tournament is in October at the USA Lacrosse National Headquarters in Maryland. Our team will be playing Canada and the Iroquois Nation. I think this is going to be a great opportunity and experience to play against these teams. We will also get to watch the U18 team, as well as the USA women's national team. It's going to be a great weekend and I'm really looking forward to it."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.