As a midfielder, Catonsville senior Deborah Milani excels on both ends of the field, but she's particularly adept at the draw.
In 13 games this spring, she has 103 draw controls and has won 238 in three years. Milani also has 84 goals, 22 assists, 34 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers for the Comets (12-1), and she already is a two-time team Most Valuable Player.
A three-sport standout who also plays soccer and basketball, Milani, 18, hones her skills on lacrosse nets in the front yard and on a basketball half court in the backyard of her family's Catonsville home.
Milani, who has a 4.57 weighted grade-point average, will play lacrosse at Maryland next year.
How did you get started playing lacrosse?
I started, I think, when I was 4 because my dad's really into it, and my two older brothers played. It's kind of like a family thing. I have a lot of cousins who play, and I really liked it, so I stuck with it, and it's my favorite sport.
When did it become your favorite sport?
I used to always be obsessed with basketball. I had posters all over my room of Maryland. I used to go to games all the time with my aunt. I went to the ACC tournament, so I loved basketball. I guess when I was in middle school, I realized that lacrosse is my better sport. I always loved lacrosse, too, but I just went through a little basketball phase. I guess I realized I had a shot at playing lacrosse in college, so I focused on that, and I had to give up AAU basketball because I didn't really have much time.
What's the secret to being so good on the draw?
(Laughs) I don't want to give it away. There is one thing that [Catonsville coach Becky Clipp] taught me. It's not necessarily a secret, but it's a thing you can do to get it to yourself. I guess I just kind of see what kind of stick they have, where [the ball is] going and there's just kind of a science to it, almost, where to put my stick. I can't really explain it. Sometimes, if I'm not getting it to myself, or if it's going in the opposite direction, I'll get one of my teammates on the circle to try to get the draw if I know where it's going.
How has your role on the team changed now that you're a senior?
Not too much on the field, but I guess now that we're seniors, we're the oldest ones on the team, with the most experience, so people look up to us for guidance. We just kind of are the leaders and help people, especially the freshmen, feel more comfortable and confident and just keep the team positive.
What are you looking forward to about the last few weeks of your high school lacrosse career?
I'm looking forward to winning out and winning a lot of playoff games and bringing home a state championship, because I don't think our team has won a state championship since 1996, so it's time.
Did you consider any other schools before you chose Maryland?
I was thinking about [Johns] Hopkins and some other schools, but mainly it was between Maryland and Florida. I always loved Maryland and then when I saw Florida, this new program and I love the beach, I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is the place for me," but I guess when I went to Maryland, I just felt at home. I loved everything about it, and I like being close to home, too. It's far enough away, but it's close, too.
What's something most people don't know about you?
I think most people who are close to me know this, but I'm an extremely picky eater. If we go out to a restaurant, I pretty much only get chicken tenders and fries. And I don't like breakfast foods, so I eat dinner foods, like chicken nuggets for breakfast. It's not that I really don't like breakfast foods, but I like dinner food better and it's protein, so I guess it's OK in a way (laughs).
Who do you look up to?
I guess I look up to Becky a lot, and Ellen [Cook, Catonsville assistant coach]. Becky went to Catonsville, and they both went to Maryland. They're good role models and what they went through is what I'm going to go through. They help me prepare for what I'm going to experience in college.
What moment of your sporting life would you like to live over again?
I have a lot of really good moments, but I guess one in particular would be last year — we beat Hereford, which is always nice because they're one of our rivals. We beat them with literally half a second left. Rachel Schwaab, she had this crazy goal from the side. She had no angle and somehow she got it through some little window and we won. It was the best feeling ever. Winning counties and regionals last year was pretty awesome, and I hope to have that feeling again.
What role do you think sports has played in making you the person you are today?
My life revolves around sports, but I love it. I've met so many good friends, so many coaches, had so many good experiences, and it's all from playing sports. I don't really think there's one thing that would be bad about sports. There's so many pros. I can't imagine my life without having played sports.