By Ronald Hanaki
On April 26, senior Sarah Gabriele from Women’s Lacrosse was one of two student-athletes honored as KU’s 2018 Senior Athletes of the Year.
The Felton, Pa. native recently concluded her outstanding collegiate career with 173 career goals, 57 career assists and 230 total points. She is the only student athlete in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) to hold all three records concurrently at one institution.
Needless to say, the tributes are already pouring in for the future KU Athletic Hall of Famer.
“Sarah is just a great athlete who works her tail off,” said Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Jackie Stezzi.
Gabriele’s father said, “I couldn’t be any prouder of her. It’s been 20 years of hard work coming to fruition.”
Gabriele has always been a savant with the stick.
“I started playing when I was young and didn’t want to stop when I picked up a stick,” said Gabriele.
Gabriele became an outstanding midfielder in high school and had her eyes set on playing for NCAA Division I St. Francis University. Then she received an email from KU. Gabriele’s mother encouraged her to give KU a look, and she fell in love with the campus.
“I just loved it here,” said Gabriele. “And it has a great education program.”
Gabriele is an elementary education major and plans to become a teacher after graduation.
“We [as student-athletes] have an opportunity that not every girl gets,” stated Gabriele.
Gabriele spent her freshman year playing midfield, but she switched to being an attack beginning in her sophomore year.
Gabriele was stellar on the field, but team success proved more difficult.
“We had some rough years, but our goal this year was to show everyone what KU Lacrosse was all about,” said Gabriele.
The team welcomed a new head coach this season.
“We were pretty ready for change, and everyone came together despite what we personally thought about the change,” said Gabriele. “Coach Stezzi took the time to get to know us.”
Despite the early optimism surrounding this team, the Golden Bears missed their chance to play in the postseason PSAC Tournament.
“It was definitely a rough year, but we were on the same page from the beginning,” said Gabriele.
“This season had its ups and downs,” said Gabriele. “But being on a team like this builds character, and that is what college is all about.”
Gabriele may be the undisputed queen of KU Women’s Lacrosse, but she is quick to credit her support system for her success.
“I have been pretty fortunate in the people that I have come across. The amount of support that I have had through the whole process has been tremendous. Blessed is an understatement,” said Gabriele.
“There were so many great things about this team. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Golden Bear. There is no other place I’d rather be,” said Gabriele.
Gabriele had some words of encouragement for next season’s team.
“This is a young team, but there are lots of leaders on the team. If the team stays hungry, they should continue to get better,” said Gabriele.
“It’s about recognizing that hunger in yourself and taking that first step. If people continue to step up, they should be good next season,” said Gabriele.
Now that her playing career is over, Gabriele plans to take some time to reflect and explore her personal interests and secure her future.
Gabriele will stay on campus for one more year. She stated that she was planning to pick up a psychology minor and was looking forward to getting her teaching degree.
“I want to pursue other passions, but I am keeping lacrosse because it’s always been there for me,” said Gabriele.
“KU has taught me a lot–on and off the field,” said Gabriele.
“I want to take everything I have learned here and apply it to the real world,” stated Gabriele.