116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — An athlete’s dedication to their sport is constantly tested, but for City High senior Kate Kueter these tests of dedication were more difficult than for most athletes.
Kueter began playing lacrosse around the age of 9 when she joined Annandale Youth Lacrosse, a club team in northern Virginia. She recounts her initial reason for playing lacrosse was to avoid playing soccer.
“The choice as a kid was you played soccer or you played lacrosse,” Kueter said. “And I really didn’t want to play soccer. I was highly against it as a child, so I chose lacrosse.”
Despite her initial reasoning, Kueter quickly found aspects of the sport she enjoyed.
“There were a lot of things I really liked about it. I liked that I had a bunch of what I thought of as fancy equipment, like I had the goggles, I had the stick, and I could have pretty colors on my stick,” Kueter said. “(Additionally,) when you put the goggles and the mouth guard on and you’re running towards the ball, you feel so awesome, like battling attack mode.”
When her family moved to Iowa in when Kueter was in sixth grade, she had to try to find a new lacrosse team. The closest one, the West Des Moines Lacrosse Club, was a two-hour drive away.
“We went over to West Des Moines to just try it out and see if it was something we were interested in being a part of and we connected with them,” Kueter said. “I went to one practice, then it was two practices. (It) turned into a fall ball season (and then I) came back for the spring season. It was a great experience with them, and I’ve been playing with them ever since.”
While she was glad to be able to play lacrosse once again, playing for the West Des Moines Lacrosse Club came with some difficulties.
“When I first started playing with the Tigers, I got really nervous before games, partly because I was a junior high student, and I was playing against these high schoolers,” Kueter said. “I thought that was a little insane but I also thought that I could totally beat them. Our skill level matched even though our ages were completely different. (But]) they were physically bigger than me.”
Being a junior high student, who is a starter on a club team consisting of high schoolers, was not made any easier by the fact she lived in Iowa City.
“I was a little afraid of disappointing my teammates. That was the huge thing for me when I first started playing with this team because I was a younger kid, I was a smaller kid, and I was a kid who lived two hours away and barely came to practice,” Kueter said. “Reminding myself that I knew what I was doing and I was bringing something that would benefit the game when I stepped onto that field really helped me.”
Because of the long drive to practice, Kueter normally goes to practice once a week in the fall and then twice a week during the official season in the spring.
“I’ll go to practice two times a week, and I’ll match whatever they do practice wise with wall ball, so I’m still practicing. I’m just not practicing with them,” Kueter said.
When training by herself, Kueter bounces a lacrosse ball off of a solid wall, also known as wall ball. She often does this at the North Dodge gym, followed by cardio and footwork ladder drills.
“ (Kate) puts in a tremendous amount of work outside of practice,” Meghan Gruver, the West Des Moines Lacrosse Club head coach for high school girls, said. “If she did not put that work in, then she would not be where she is as a lacrosse player right now. The fact that she’s willing to do that says a lot.”
Since Kueter is not able to make it to many practices, she makes the ones she goes to count.
“When she comes to practice she works hard, she plays hard. She plays every practice like a game (which is) huge,” Gruver said.
Throughout this journey, Kueter has learned to know what she is capable of and not let what others think get in her way.
“They didn’t understand my story,” Kueter said. “So part of it is, I should tell my story. I shouldn’t be afraid of telling them what I do.
“And then the second part of it (is) I have to just ignore what they don’t understand, and just focus on what I know I can do. So I think I learned that lesson: just do what I can do, and do it the best I can.”
Kueter is a starting defender and a team captain as a senior.
Recognizing how much her parents do for her in order to enable her to play lacrosse, Kueter tries to make their lives easier.
“I have learned to do the little things for my parents because they’ve done so much in my lacrosse career that I keep remembering that they do this huge thing for me, I should do the little things for them and maybe it will add up to a big thank you,” Kueter said.
Kueter will play NCAA Division III lacrosse for the University of Mount Union next year. Playing lacrosse in college is something she has always wanted to do.
“I would say eighth grade, I knew I wanted to play lacrosse in college.” she said. “I just had a feeling like I did not want my lacrosse career to end after high school.
“That was insane. I literally could not imagine my life without playing lacrosse. It felt like I would have nothing to do.”
What Kueter is most excited about is the consistency of college lacrosse, where she can practice with her team every day.
“In college, I’m going to be able to see my teammates all the time. It’s going to be awesome,” Kueter said. “I’m so excited because that’s the thing I really miss out on playing with the Tigers.
“Obviously I have a connection with that team and it’s a connection that is very special and I will hold it with me forever and I do consider them both teammates and friends, but I also don’t get the sort of connection that other athletes have where I can hang out with them on the weekends or grab a coffee. So I’m excited for that in college. I’m excited to have that connection.”