Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to help you become more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Vanderbilt senior midfielder Ally Carey, a John Carroll graduate and The Sun's 2008 Female Athlete of the Year. She leads the No. 18 Commodores (7-5) in goals (22), points (31), draw controls (60) and caused turnovers (12) and is their all-time leader in draw controls with 223. The All-American is a member of the U.S. national team.
Why did you decided to go to Vanderbilt?
I came down here on a Sky Walkers (club lacrosse) trip very early in my career. Our luggage was lost, it was snowing and I didn't think it snowed in Nashville. I was like, "It's miserable." We were looking for where to meet because we were late, and these girls came up to us like, "Oh, you're here for the lacrosse thing. We'll show you where the locker room is." They were so sweet and so nice. They picked us up off the street and brought us in. Then we met with [coach Cathy Swezey] and fell in love with Cathy and fell in love with the team. And Nashville is one of my favorite places. It's beautiful weather. You have so much to do. The music's great. Vanderbilt just seemed like the perfect fit.
You score a lot of goals, but you've never been driven to accumulate huge scoring stats. What is your favorite part of the game?
As a middie, I like to do things on both ends of the field, but if somebody takes the ball away from me, I want it back. My favorite thing to do in the world is to get a check from behind, pick it up and go back down. I could do that all day every day because it's just the pure hustle that's involved with it, the accuracy of not getting close too their head but making sure the ball pops out. It is such a rush to get the ball back like that.
Is your role on the Commodores team the same as the role you played at John Carroll?
I think they needed me on attack at John Carroll, and I really didn't know how to play defense in high school. I just think I got in the way. I've learned a lot since I've been here and I've gotten a couple matchups on defense (against the opposition's best player), which is such an honor. I've learned a lot more about the defensive side of it and I've definitely become more of a two-way player.
What's the trick to being so good at the draw?
It's more in the wrist for me. It's not the power, so you won't see me do a huge pullback to my attack, but you'll see it go up so I can grab it in the air or just pull it slightly past the circle. It's more about making sure your wrists are quick. … If you get it in the back of your stick because your wrists are quick enough, you can put it wherever you want.
Your team is 1-3 in arguably the toughest conference in the country with an overtime loss and a two-goal loss. Is it exhilarating or frustrating to play in the American Lacrosse Conference?
I would say after what happened Sunday (a 13-11 loss to Ohio State), it's frustrating. It's great that our conference has gotten so competitive and our strength of schedule has really increased over the past four years, but it's frustrating as anything to lose to these teams that, the first two years, we hadn't lost to. They've gotten so much better, and they're such competitors now that it's not just going to come to us. You have to work for every second of every game or else you cold lose it. Against Ohio State, Penn State and Northwestern, we didn't play the full 60 minutes, so we didn't come out on top.
You won two IAAM A Conference titles and received many accolades as a high school player, then won a world championship with the U.S. under-19 team and now you're a leader on a Top 20 college team. What has been the most rewarding moment of your lacrosse career?
Of course the U-19 experience was huge for me because it came right at the peak of where your confidence could either go really downhill or it could shoot up when you're just getting recruited and trying to figure out whether you're going to make it to D-I. It's an honor to be on the travel elite team right now, and I feel so lucky to be there, but to be on the U-19 team and take a gold medal and to be on the stand and have USA across your chest is like the most rewarding experience you could get.
Do you plan to try to retain your spot on the U.S. national team for the World Cup next year in Canada?
I want that more than anything, but the competition is incredible. These girls are amazing. I've learned so much from them already. I am a baby in the matter, so I would understand (not making the team), but at the same time, I'm going to work my butt off to be one of those 18 players.
I am trying to figure out my job situation at the moment, but I worked at Under Armour this past summer. I am trying to get back into that. I had a great time. They had great people, and it was the perfect fit for me. I just want to stay close to sports as much as I can.
What did you do there?
I did customer service work. I was one of the rookies — that's what they call them. There were like 52 of us all together in different departments. We went through a great training process. They think they want me back, but we'll see. I haven't gone through the interview process yet, but there could be a job waiting at home for me, so I could live in Baltimore.
How does it feel to be so close to the end of your college lacrosse career?
It's terrifying. It's just a whole different world without lacrosse. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get all my anger out and all that kind of stuff. To be on such a routine for four years and know what's coming next and how your day's planned out, it's comforting to know how things are going to go. Then going out into the real world, everything's completely different. I definitely live in a bubble down here. Making myself work out instead of somebody telling me to is going to be the biggest challenge.