Lacrosse, volleyball and basketball player Leah Vacin is one of three Catonsville-Arbutus Times Female Athletes of the Year

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Catonsville High's Leah Vacin is one of three Catonsville-Arbutus Times 2023 Athletes of the Year. She played volleyball, basketball and lacrosse.

Catonsville senior Leah Vacin will play lacrosse next year at York College after leaving her mark in three sports as a determined hustler with a willingness and desire to play anywhere during her senior year.

Vacin joins classmate Hallie Shepard and junior Casey Fisher as winner of the Catonsville-Arbutus Times Female Athlete of the Year award.


Vacin’s toughest challenge came on the basketball court where she took over as full-time point guard.

At the team’s postseason banquet, coach Mike Mohler awarded her Most Valuable Player and said: “This is a person who had to play every minute, every game and not get in foul trouble and when in foul trouble, have the understanding that you can’t get any more.”


Growing up playing basketball, Vacin said she played mainly point guard, but adjusted to other roles.

“I would fill spots where we needed, I tried to do a little bit of everything,” she said.

But it was nothing like having the keys to the key position under Mohler, who has 578 career wins and just completed his 30th season at Catonsville.

“To handle the point guard position all the time, and she did a more than credible job at it and she is a tough kid, she is a hard-nosed player, she gave us everything she had,” Mohler said. “She really came to understand the position and she really became a fairly accomplished point guard at the end.”

Catonsville's Leah Vacin scores two of her game-high 15 points in the Comets' 55-22 playoff win over Dundalk.

She did more than just handle the ball and feed her teammates.

In a 55-22 over Dundalk in the playoffs, she scored a game-high 15 points, including seven in the second quarter, and she added seven steals.

‘It was a hot game, it was a fun little game to play, we had a nice little crowd,” Vacin said.

The Comets were eliminated by Dulaney in the regional semifinals, but Vacin got to play one more significant game at an all-star game at Poly featuring top seniors from Baltimore County against the best from Baltimore City.


“We got plaques and fancy uniforms and it was set up really nice, we beat them by like three points,” she said.

The Comets finished the season with a 16-8 mark and Vacin felt chemistry was key.

“We all just got along really well and that just made us play better together,” she said. “We like each other and we trusted each other.”

Was playing for Mohler tough?

“He is, but you want to do good for him,” Vacin said. “You want to win for him, I love having him for a coach, he’s amazing.”

She wasn’t afraid to give Mohler and assistant coach Mark Valderas advice.


“She would come to me and coach V [Valderas] and say ‘Guys, we aren’t working hard enough, you gotta work us harder,’ and I don’t know too many players that do that,” Mohler said.

On senior night, Vacin scored nine points in the second quarter of a 54-31 victory over Overlea.

In a game where she matched up with her middle school friend Danielle Weeks, of Western Tech, Vacin made two three-pointers in the second quarter of a 38-31 victory.

”All the small little things outside of trying to handle the ball and run the offense and play defense, she became a very, very complete player,” Mohler said. “I can’t say enough about her. She was a true team leader, great attitude. She was a delight and we are going to miss her terribly.”

Catonsville's Leah Vacin, left, works her way toward the goal in a game against Westminster. The Catonsville-Arbutus Times Female Athlete of the Year will play at York College next season.

Vacin will also be missed on the lacrosse field where she scored 29 goals and added 14 assists, 15 ground balls, four draw controls and three caused turnovers.

“She is a natural leader,” Catonsville coach Cantey Bailey said. “I think she is one who, when she talks, they listen and someone who didn’t play last year she still was able to get not only the respect of the girls, but they listened to what she said and they wanted to be there for her and I think that shows a lot to who she is as a person.”


One of her favorite games came in a loss to Marriotts Ridge.

“I had three or four goals and they were really good and they were really hard, but I stepped up that game and I was proud of myself,” she said.

Vacin, one on three seniors on the roster at the start of the season, also developed a chemistry with junior leading scorer and Athlete of the Year Fisher.

“It was fun, we started getting a good chemistry and I was down low so she would cut down the middle and I would be able to see her really quick,” Vacin said.

Fisher, like Vacin, played three sports (indoor track and cross country) and both will be playing lacrosse in college.

“Both Casey and Leah, they are not just playing to play, they really love the other sports as well,” Bailey said.


Vacin cherished her role as one of the veterans on the lacrosse team.

“I looked at them as sisters and they looked at me as like an older sister, so it was easier to talk to them and show them what to do or where to be,” Vacin said.

Her toughness and willingness to do anything was not lost on her coach.

“She’s one who you ask her to do something and she is 100 percent doing it,” Bailey said. “She’s uber-competitive and every 50-50 ball is a fight.”

Catonsville's Leah Vacin, left, and Sam Rickwalder prepare to make a pass in the Comets match with Eastern Tech.

In volleyball, Vacin’s consistent passing and serving made her a valuable asset.

“She was primarily a defensive specialist,” coach Amanda Kaufman said. “She got a little bit of court time last season, but she really stepped into a leadership role on the court this season and got a lot of playing time, she was one of our most reliable servers and just an overall great teammate throughout the season.”


“I like volleyball because I don’t feel as much pressure with it, like it’s more a fun sport,” Vacin said. “We held ourselves really high even through the losses.”

She had no problems diving for a dig in volleyball, sprawling for a loose ball on the basketball court or battling for a 50-50 ball in lacrosse.

“She is just a very well-rounded athlete and I think that shows in everything that she does,” Kaufman said. “She is super tough, she doesn’t think twice, she does whatever she needs to do, whether it’s lacrosse, basketball or volleyball, to make sure she is getting her job done on the court or on the field.”