Gabbi Kirsch played club soccer until her freshman year of high school.
At some point that year, she started weighing her options.
“Soccer is great, and the coaches and players at Williamstown are great,” Kirsch said. “But I just fell in love with lacrosse. That’s when I decided to make it my main sport and play club lacrosse instead.”
She didn’t realize it at the time, but the decision was a major step in a blueprint she was helping to write, one that Williamstown girls’ lacrosse coach Brooke Cantwell is hoping becomes common among the players in her young program.
Kirsch was one of Williamstown’s first athletes to devote herself to lacrosse. The results are telling.
Now a senior, Kirsch holds nearly every offensive record one could dream of, including career goals (158) and assists (74), for a Williamstown program playing in just its fifth season.
And last summer, she committed to play college lacrosse at Temple, the first Division I commitment for a WIlliamstown girls’ lacrosse player.
“It’s been a humbling experience,” said Kirsch, who is off to the best season of her career with 25 goals and 19 assists through 10 games for the 5-5 Braves.
The best part of Kirsch’s story, according to Cantwell, is just how ordinary it sounds.
Kirsch started playing lacrosse in sixth grade.
Before that, she played softball, a sport that, like soccer, she described as a bit too slow for her.
So she and a few friends decided to joined Williamstown’s youth lacrosse program, another program that, at the time, was in its infancy but is now flourishing.
From there, work ethic took over.
“Gabbi has tremendous speed, and she’s one of the most competitive players I’ve been around,” Cantwell said. “But really, she’s the example for the other girls that anything is possible. She started basically where they started. She just put in the work over the past four years. And that’s gotten her to where she’s at now.”
The attitude has been reflected in Williamstown’s team results.
The program was just 3-11 in its first season in 2014, a season that involved walking the halls in school asking for novices to sign up.
Since then, more players have come to the high school team with more experience. Like so many up-and-coming programs around South Jersey, boys and girls, the town experienced a sudden rise in interest in the sport.
The team is now stocked with players who have played the sport for years before high school, players such as Kirsch, who fell in love with the game at a young age.
And the result has been an increased win total in every year. Last year, the team finished 10-10, marking its first-ever .500 record, and won a playoff game for the first time.
This year, “I want to finish with a winning record so bad,” Kirsch said.
Kirsch said she’s happy to be part of history and even happier to be able to pave the way and show others how history is made.
“I know most of my records will be broken some day,” Kirsch said. “But I want to be the one to help set the foundation for everybody. I want to show everybody that you can do this, It’s not just because I’m a good athlete. Anybody can do this.”