May always threat to succeed


For Jen May not to be excited about an endeavor is rare.

One such time came in her freshman year when the idea to join the South River indoor track and field team - to help prepare for spring lacrosse - was met with resistance. True to May's form, it wasn't lasting.

"I just asked her to give it a try," recalled her mother, Mary. "And then the first night I picked her up from practice, she's walking up to the car with a big smile on her face."

For family, teammates, coaches and anyone else who might cross her path, nothing should surprise them when it comes to the friendly, three-sport standout and honor roll student.

It was no surprise when May curiously raised her hand that first day of practice to say she'd give pole vaulting a try.

"That looks cool," she thought.

And no surprise four years later when she won a state title in the event and, in the process, tied the Class 4A record by clearing 9 feet, 6 inches on her first try.

"If anything, we were surprised she didn't get 10 feet to break it, but we were all excited she got it," said South River track coach Carrie Hatfield.

The words "awesome" and "exciting" are regular staples in May's zestful and often chatty dialogue.

May on getting to states in field hockey - a sport she didn't begin playing until her sophomore year - and making first-team All-Metro this year: "Awesome."

May on accepting a scholarship to play lacrosse at, of all places, the University of Oregon: "Exciting."

May was all set to go to Towson University, but she had one final official visit to Oregon, which is starting a new program next year. It turned out to be a quick and easy sell.

"I just figured why not visit the West Coast and see what it's like out there. The minute I got there, I knew it was for me and that's where I belonged," said May. "It's really exciting because I'll be a part of the founding team. And because lacrosse is so new out there, everyone is ecstatic to learn about it."

May will take to Oregon an ability to effectively play both ends of the field, which she is now doing in her fourth varsity season at South River. In her first three years, she piled up 90 goals and 54 assists, while also paying close attention to defensive details.

With the No. 10 Seahawks (3-1) lean on defensive experience going into the season, May, a two-year captain, has concentrated more on that side of the field this spring at midfield.

"She's pretty much our rock," coach Julie Norton said. "She balances both ends of the field so well and because of her experience, leadership and skills, she makes the whole team better."

Norton also was quick to add that May, who has four assists this season, is one of a kind - both on and off the field.

"Jen is definitely a natural leader," Norton said. "She clicks with so many different types of people and is so mature; sometimes I have to remind myself that she's only 17 years old. She's just got so many strengths in her bag - not just on the field - so many great qualities that are going to carry her very far in life."

How far? With May, there have been no limits.

Rewind to May's freshman year. There was 13 seconds left in a tie lacrosse game against Arundel, and guess who was alone in front of the Wildcats' goal?

"Jackie Colacicco had the ball [on a restart] and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,' " May said. "I remember looking at all the fans, then at the scoreboard and then looking at Jackie, and she gives me this look - it's coming to you. I'm like, 'Please, don't mess up. Please, don't mess up,' and then I remember getting the ball - fake high, shoot low - and then seeing the net shake. It was awesome."

May's father, Lee May, had a pretty good idea he had a natural athlete when Jen was 4. The porch on the family's new house hadn't been built, so there was a temporary 2-by-6 in place as the bridge between the ground and the house. Lee, who's still playing high-level softball at the age of 62, would have to help up his wife, Mary May, and their son, but Jen needed no assistance.

"I went to help her and she smacked me away, saying, 'I can do it, I can do it,'" Lee said.

T-ball and later baseball with the boys came before a girls recreation lacrosse league arrived when May was in fourth grade.

"Our uniforms were down to our knees, our shorts were down to our ankles, and we were just running around with no idea what we were doing - that's how it all started," she said.

Now May has this one season left with fellow seniors Frannie Sullivan, Lauren Disharoon and Kim Kontson - all of whom have played together since the "no-idea-what-we're-doing" days - before turning in her Seahawks' blue for the Ducks' green and yellow.

Green and yellow?

"At first, I was kind of like, 'Yuck,' " May said. "But then after seeing all our different uniforms and our green warm-ups with the big 'O' on it, I was like: 'I'm good with green and yellow.' "

May, who has a 3.6 grade point average, wants to become a math teacher and is taking courses at Anne Arundel Community College to get a head start.

While many of the top-notch lacrosse players continue to play throughout the summer, May has devoted her past two summers to her church as a camp counselor; one year in West Virginia, the other in Pennsylvania. She also did missionary work in a poverty-stricken town in Mexico.

May will count on those experiences to help her when she goes off to Oregon.

"I'll miss my friends the most - I know everyone says that - but it's true," May said. "These are the girls I've grown up with since kindergarten. But there's a whole new world to find and 16,000 people at Oregon, so I'm sure I'll make some new friends."

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