McDonough se­nior Ak­ers off to Win­gate for lacrosse

McDonough se­nior does early sign­ing to D-II lacrosse pro­gram

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

McDonough High School se­nior Mor­gan Ak­ers has made of­fi­cial what has been her heart since the sev­enth grade, sign­ing a na­tional let­ter of in­tent to play col­lege lacrosse.

The se­nior mid­fielder saw her dream come true when she signed to play NCAA Divi­sion II lacrosse at Win­gate Uni­ver­sity in North Car- olina on Nov. 15 in the McDonough gym­na­sium among fam­ily, friends, coaches, team­mates and school of­fi­cials.

“It was a very ex­cit­ing mo­ment for me. Win- gate was my top choice and I am very glad that ev­ery­thing worked out,” said Ak­ers, who started play­ing lacrosse at the age of 5. “It is great to be a part of a grow­ing pro­gram. I’m glad that ev­ery- thing worked out how I planned.”

On what what led to her de­ci­sion of pick­ing Win­gate, she said. “Win­gate to me is a very spe­cial place. The mo­ment I stepped on cam­pus, I was like, ‘Wow, this is def­i­nitely the place for me.’ The coach­ing staff there, it’s re­ally just a fam­ily at­mos­phere. That’s re­ally what has drawn me to Win­gate. Once I com­mit­ted, I never had a doubt in my mind this is where I wanted to go. It is about 30 min­utes from the city of Char­lotte.”

Fam­ily and lacrosse go hand in hand for Ak­ers.

Her father, James Ak­ers, has coached her for six years com­bined in high school and travel ball. Her older brother James was a for­mer lacrosse stand­out on the McDonough boys squad and her cousins, Colin and Ryan Wei­gle were for­mer play­ers at Tus­carora and Fred­er­ick High Schools, re­spec­tively.

Mor­gan Ak­ers, who also re­ceived an of­fer from Divi­sion II Mount Olive Col­lege (N.C.), took time to sin­gle out all the peo­ple who helped her reach this goal, in­clud­ing teach­ers, all of her coaches and, most sig­nif­i­cantly, her fam­ily.

“I’ve had so much sup­port from the com­mu­nity, my team- mates, my fam­ily,” she said. “I def­i­nitely would not be here with­out every­body. “My fam­ily’s been by far my big­gest sup­port­ers.”

Ak­ers added of the spe­cial sign- ing event, “Sign­ing that day was a great feel­ing. It’s been a long jour- ney, but I’m ex­cited to of­fi­cially sign and can’t wait for next year and can’t wait for this spring.”

Win­gate com­piled a 12-5 over- all record in 2016 un­der head coach Ca­line Olm­stead, set- ting a school-record for over­all vic­to­ries. Win­gate also had 6-2 record in the South At­lantic Con­fer­ence.

“This was a great op­por­tu­nity for me to sign early be­cause I’m now done with the deci- sion-mak­ing process and I can re­lax and en­joy my se­nior year of high school,” Ak­ers said.

Olm­stead first dis­cov­ered Ak- ers at the Mary­land Indy Play Day tour­na­ment over the sum- mer at the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land in Col­lege Park.

On what she will bring to the Win­gate pro­gram, Ak­ers said, “I would say I have a very good lacrosse IQ and field aware­ness is one of my strong at­tributes and I’m a nat­u­ral leader that I strive to do ev­ery­thing to the best of my abil­i­ties.”

Ak­ers, who main­tains a 4.3 GPA in the class­room, first started play­ing lacrosse for the Charles County Lacrosse League and then played for sev- eral travel teams like Up­roar, In­fin­ity, Ulax and the South­ern Mary­land Rev­o­lu­tion. She also played twice at the Na­tional Brine Tour­na­ment in Vir­ginia and Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Ak­ers has started the last three sea­sons for McDonough un­der her father and head coach with a su­perb ju­nior cam­paign that saw her fin­ish with 25 goals to go along with a team-high in draw con­trols (64), as­sists (58), ground­balls (98) and caused turnovers (36).

She was an All-South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Po­tomac Divi­sion first-team se­lec­tion and was also a runner-up can­di­date for the SMAC’s Most Out­stand­ing Player last spring.

“It is amaz­ing to see that all her hard work on the field and in the class­room has paid off,” James Ak­ers said. Along with be­ing the head coach at McDonough, Ak­ers is the direc­tor and coach for the Rev­o­lu­tion, In­fin­ity, Up­roar and Ulax in An­napo­lis. “To see her dreams come true is spe­cial. She is a team player and she has a lot of knowl­edge of the game. This sea­son as a se­nior she will be the team cap­tain again and has had a key role in help­ing the McDonough pro­gram de­velop, She is re­ally giv­ing back to the sport of lacrosse in the county. The younger girls re­ally look up to her.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

McDonough High School se­nior Mor­gan Ak­ers, pic­tured here con­trol­ling the ball in a game with the Up­roar travel team, re­cently signed her na­tional let­ter of in­tent to play NCAA Divi­sion II lacrosse for the women’s team at Win­gate Uni­ver­sity (N.C.).

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

McDonough High School se­nior Mor­gan Ak­ers signed her na­tional let­ter of in­tent on Nov. 15 to play lacrosse at Win­gate Uni­ver­sity (N.C.). Seated, from left, are Ak­ers’ mother Lisa Ak­ers, Mor­gan Ak­ers and grand­mother Con­nie Ak­ers. In the back row are McDonough ath­letic direc­tor Pam Van Bellen, left, head girls lacrosse coach and father James Ak­ers, and as­sis­tant coaches Leigh Emig and Cathy Stot­tle­myer.

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