Senior Spotlight: Kaitlin Duff
By Cat Snider, UVa Media Relations
For senior Kaitlin Duff, it’s always been about thinking positive.
It all started with what she calls her greatest memory of her time at Virginia; a 2007 NCAA semifinal matchup that pitted Virginia against Duke in Duff’s first year. But with 20 minutes left in the game, the Cavaliers found themselves facing a 13-4 deficit.
Only the day before, the team had been joking around about a book that then-teammate Jessy Morgan had told them about. It claimed that if you think positively, positive things would happen.
“We had all been joking around about the book,” Duff recalled. “But when we were down, we all remembered the book. We all decided that we could still win. No matter what, we kept telling ourselves that we could do it.”
And they did. In the last 20 minutes of the game, the Cavaliers went on a 10-goal streak and beat the Blue Devils, 14-13, to advance to the NCAA Championship game.
The memory of that game has stuck with Duff, on the field and off.
“I think that even in life in general, that positive thinking has really helped me,” Duff said. “If we are ever down a goal, I know that we have the ability to come back, in addition to the talent to come back.”
Duff’s can-do attitude and hard work has served her well. She has started every game throughout her collegiate career, a feat not many can boast.
But she’s not boasting. She credits her good luck to avoiding injury, to her teammates and her coaches.
“I’ve been really lucky about not getting injured,” Duff said. “Starting my first year, I definitely wasn’t expecting to come in here and start, because everyone is so good. That year, I got to play with Jessy Morgan and Claire Bordley, who were really great defenders. They taught me so much. And with HD’s coaching, I really learned a lot.”
As a speedy midfielder, she acclimated to play at the college level and honed her skills at creating turnovers and defensive plays to help spark the offense. Just 10 caused turnovers shy of Virginia’s all-time career record, Duff thrives on creating a turnover and starting ball movement through the shift in possession. It was exactly this facet of the game that attracted her to lacrosse over other sports.
“Lacrosse is a lot faster than soccer,” Duff said. “More people score in lacrosse, so I was attracted to that. I love how the game moves, and how quickly the ball changes possession. In soccer, usually just one player scores. But in lacrosse, so many different people can score. There are so many more options.”
A childhood soccer player, the Bethesda, Md., native was first introduced to lacrosse in the sixth grade. She liked the speed of the game and the versatility players needed to have.
“I love how you can be any type of player in lacrosse,” Duff said. “It’s anyone’s chance to play. If you are a fast, you bring something to the team. If you have great stick skills, you bring something else. Certain things define a player, not just one quality.”
As a player, Duff is certainly multifaceted herself. On her career, she has 103 goals, 148 points, 162 ground balls and 117 caused turnovers so far. If she is able to notch two more draw controls this year, she will become just the second person in program history to hit 100 in five different statistical categories in the game. Former All-American Lauren Aumiller was the first to do so, playing from 2000-03.
This record would only add to Duff’s already decorated career. Already an All-America accolades, Duff has also earned multiple All-South Region and All-ACC honors. She’s been named to the NCAA and ACC All-Tournament teams and has garnered All-State honors. This season, she’s currently a member of the Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List.
But she doesn’t think about that.
For Duff, lacrosse isn’t an individual sport. It’s about the team. And she is proud of what this year’s squad has accomplished so far and how well they played against top opponents such as Duke and North Carolina. She is using those games as momentum throughout the rest of the season.
“I think we have a lot more potential,” Duff said. “If we continue to work hard, we can continue to do great things.”
With graduation looming in the distance, as well, Duff is uncertain of her future. A history major and Spanish minor, she thinks she might continue to use her language skills in the professional world.
The one thing that is certain, however, is that she plans to keep lacrosse a part of her life. She thinks she may work with another team, giving lessons or working at camps. She is even thinking of coaching her own team of middle school girls.
“Lacrosse has been a huge part of my life so far,” Duff said. “I would like to keep it that way. It’s definitely something I’m going to miss; I have been playing every day for the past four years.”
No matter where she goes, though, it is certain that success will follow. As she gears up to move to the next stage of her life, Virginia will for sure lose one of the most well rounded and accomplished players to ever put on an orange and blue uniform.