We sat down with Maddy Morrissey, former Duke women’s lacrosse player to ask about recruiting, playing for Duke and life off the lacrosse field. A native of Skaneateles, New York, she finished her career at Duke ranked 21st all-time at Duke in goals (76) and tied for 22nd in assists (24).
How and when did you first start playing lacrosse?
I started in 5th grade. My uncle played at Syracuse and a lot of my friends were playing. So I became the high school varsity team’s ball girl/manager. It was a blast and I became hooked on lacrosse. My dog also helped, she made it easy for me to practice without having to chase balls.
Did you play other sports besides lacrosse? If so, how did you choose lacrosse over the others?
I played soccer and ice hockey. Soccer was a fall sport and ice hockey was just so time consuming. Lacrosse was easy and fun for me to practice and I was just more “obsessed” with the game.
What athletes, lacrosse players or other sports, did you look up to when growing up?
I looked up to the high school girls, specifically Carolyn Davis who went to Duke. I also looked up to the Syracuse girls’ team because they were so close by.
What was the college recruitment process like for you and how did you end up choosing Duke?
It was really fun. I always thought I would go to Cornell. A lot of my friends went there and I loved the school. Then Gary Gait became interested in me and his program was growing so fast; it was very tempting to hop on board. But when I went to a winter camp at Duke I fell in love with the campus and the area. It was like a perfect combo of Cornell’s academics and Cuse’s lacrosse, with a nice benefit of branching out away from home.
If you could give a piece of advice to a high school athlete going through the recruitment process, what would it be?
Choose the school based on the school, not the lacrosse. Anything can happen when you get to college; you could get injured, your coach could leave or you might not be happy with your playing time. But if you are at a school that you love, it can make a huge difference in your overall happiness.
What was the most difficult thing to adjust to in college: Level of play, academics or lifestyle?
The level of play. I had to get stronger, faster, and quicker. I also had to learn to see the field better and be able to make decisions at a faster pace. Freshman year I got checked more times than I would like to remember, but I learned quickly just how fast my defenders were, and how to read certain situations.
You are one of 22 players in program history to top 100 points in your career at Duke, played in national quarter & semi-final games, been selected to the All-ACC second team, 4 year ACC Academic Honor Roll, three-time All-ACC Academic Team selection. What has been your proudest moment/accomplishment at Duke?
I am most proud of All-ACC Academic Team, not only for myself but our team in general. I think we usually have the most players on the list in the ACC every year. It just shows how well rounded and driven the young women on Duke’s team are.
Out of all the games you’ve played at Duke, what was the game you would love to relive?
Either beating Maryland my sophomore year, or beating Notre Dame my senior year because I had so much fun playing in those games. Beating UNC was always the best celebration as a team and I would relive that any day.
Did you have any pregame rituals or traditions? Favorite pregame meal?
I always played wall ball before a game just to make sure my stick was legal and the way I wanted it before warm ups. Favorite pregame meal would be anything with peanut butter.
Who was your favorite teammate to play with at Duke? In your entire career?
Jeeeeez that’s a hard one!!!! Being a middy ,I got to play with so many people from all positions. I think Kerrin Maurer made me a better player. She demands greatness from her teammates and is a great competitor. Not only is she one of my best friends, she is also my harshest critic (which was totally cool with me).
You’ve graduated from Duke, and now you’re an Assistant Coach for the Elon Women’s lacrosse team. How did you get that position, and did you ever see yourself as a coach?
I knew Josh [Josh Hexer, head coach] and he knew that I would be in the area. He got to hire an experienced assistant coach in Brittney Dipper, while also getting me as a Volunteer assistant. Which was nice for me to gain the experience! I love the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into making a team work. The people that keep everything flowing smoothly and keep the team happy are the ones I admire the most.
What aspects of your playing career have helped you most now in your coaching position?
Just hustling and speed. I think I help the girls compete harder and want to win. I have a strong passion for lacrosse and I hope it rubs off on the girls.
What’s your favorite thing about coaching?
The relationship with the girls. I love being there for them, and they feel comfortable coming to me with questions about lacrosse and life.
As a coach, what tips would you give the girls lacrosse player or any athlete out there looking to play in college?
Work hard to make both of your hands equal in skill. You can be a more dynamic on the field if you can use your left and right hands without thinking.
Do you have a favorite drill?
1v1 drills to goal
You recently took over the @lacrossedotcom Instagram account on a Elon Phoenix game day, how did the game go?
We won! It was a fun game and the girls did great.
Who are you personally following on Instagram?
I follow @lacrossedotcom, @aloyoga, @beachyogagirl, @kinoyoga, @instafitfoods, @thedogist and @theellenshow.
What is your absolute favorite thing about the sport of lacrosse?
How fast the ball can move up the field and end in a goal! I love catching the ball on the run in a fast man up situation and making a great pass to a teammate who scores.
Are the Duke-UNC Women’s Lacrosse games as contentious, exciting & nerve-wracking as the basketball rivalry?
I wouldn’t say they are as hyped up as the bball games, but to us, the games always bring about a feeling of excitement and nerves for sure. It is always a close game and both teams always play with a lot of heart.
What has been your favorite memory from your days playing in the Tobacco Road rivalry?
Driving back on the bus after winning last year and having an all out dance party (coaches included). They took our phones away so we couldn’t take pictures/videos of them showing off their dance moves! But it is a memory I will never forget with or without physical proof (Coach Kimel has some moves up her sleeve).
Maddy and former Tar Heel women’s lacrosse player, Beth Ellis, will be taking over our Instagram account on Friday during the Duke-UNC women’s game. Follow LACROSSE.COM on Instagram (@lacrossedotcom) and Twitter (@lacrossedotcom) so you don’t miss any of the rivalry action!