MONMOUTH, IL-The old saying “Be careful what you wish for” actually came true for Monmouth College dual-sport student-athlete Kara-Jade Gordon (Nashville, Tenn./University School), who has been named to the inaugural Jamaican senior women’s national lacrosse team.
“I found out Jamaica was forming a national team and my father said I
could qualify to try out,” explained Gordon, whose parents are from
Jamaica. “He got the paperwork going for my dual citizenship. Apparently
they saw my stats and maybe some game film
and offered me a spot on the team. It was definitely a surprise.”
This fall, Gordon – a psychology major who plays lacrosse and soccer
for the Fighting Scots – had jokingly mentioned to her Monmouth lacrosse
coach Elizabeth Demara that she would like to play for the Jamaican
national team. That wish came true when Gordon
was notified in October she would be suiting up for the 2019
Pan-American Lacrosse Association World Qualifiers to be held Nov. 14-17
in Auburndale, Fla. Qualifying teams from the Auburndale event will
then move on to the World Lacrosse Championships to be
held in 2021.
Already making history at Monmouth by joining the inaugural Fighting
Scots’ women’s lacrosse team in 2017, Gordon finds herself making
history again with Jamaica’s first-ever women’s lacrosse team.
“I think this will be an easier transition because of being on the
first women’s lacrosse team at Monmouth,” said Gordon. “That gave me the
experience of being part of a brand new program. My teammates on the
Jamaican team will probably be much more experienced.”
The fleet-footed Gordon will have to make a rules transition,
including fewer players on the field, which could open up Monmouth’s
career scoring leader for more scoring opportunities.
“It’s a great honor to play at the national level,” said Demara. “The
international rules are a bit different from the NCAA rules, so she
will have to make some adjustments. Overall, it will be a good
experience for her.”
One potential rub with the plan is that Monmouth’s women’s soccer
team qualified for the Midwest Conference Tournament to be held the
weekend prior to the PALA Qualifiers. An MWC Tournament title would
advance the Scots to the NCAA Regionals, held at the
same time as Gordon is scheduled to play on the national team.
“K-J was worried about what I’d think, but I was immediately
supportive,” said Scots women’s soccer coach Nick Rizzo of the prospect
of losing his leading scorer to the national team. “I told her these
opportunities don’t come around all that often. You
absolutely HAVE to play for your national team. It’s a great honor to
play for your national team in any sport. It wouldn’t be fair for me to
forbid her to play. It’s extremely rare at the D-3 level for a team to
lose a player to a national team, but I’m so
proud of her. She’s earned everything she’s experiencing.”
The entire experience may have caught Gordon by surprise, but it’s an experience she’s thankful for.
“I’m excited about the opportunity, but I never thought I’d be
playing on a national team,” said Gordon, who also offered some advice
for other Division III student-athletes. “There are opportunities out
there I wasn’t aware of. Division III student-athletes
play because they love their sport. If they keep working hard and keep
that love for the game, anything can happen.”
Playing in Pool A, Jamaica will open with Colombia on Nov. 14 and
will play their other pool game the following day. Consolation and
semifinals are scheduled for Nov. 16 with the third place and
championship games set for Nov. 17. Full details of the qualifier
may be found at PanAmericanLacrosse.org.