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Oct. 10, 2015

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Carrera Lucas made her debut in the cage this season for the Virginia field hockey team after redshirting in 2014-15, but her true collegiate debut came last season when she stepped into the cage as a member of the Cavalier lacrosse team. Lucas shares with us the challenge of being a two-sport Division I athlete as well and the plus-side of being half of a goal-keeping tandem. Off the field, she reflects on growing up around thoroughbred horses and gives us a glimpse into the world of competitive barbecue.

When did you first start playing field hockey?
I’ve played lacrosse since I was little and did little kids soccer, but it was probably seventh grade when I started field hockey. I had a friend at school whose mom coached a rec field hockey team, which is how I got started. I played for my school on my rec team and I didn’t take it seriously until I got into high school and that’s when I switched over to goalie. I was a field player before that.

When did you decide you were going to focus on playing field hockey in college instead of lacrosse?
I actually went through the recruiting process for both sports because towards the end of my freshman year of high school, especially from the lacrosse side of things, I was starting to get pressure to start the recruiting process and I didn’t know what I wanted to play at that point. So I went through and did visits at schools for both sports, emailed coaches for both, and through the process I started leaning towards field hockey. I think part of it is the athleticism of the position. In lacrosse, I kind of felt cooped up in the goal. I love the sport of lacrosse but field hockey just has more movement as a goalie and that’s what I enjoyed more.

How was it to then suddenly have the opportunity to be a two-sport Division I college athlete?
It was weird, but I was so thankful for it. It had been a hard decision for me to choose between the two sports and knowing that I wasn’t going to be playing lacrosse anymore was tough. I had considered going to a Division III school to be able to play both, but I was completely happy when I got here and just playing field hockey. I think I had gotten over it a little bit, but then having the opportunity to play both was just an added bonus. Coming on with the lacrosse team at Virginia last year was a great experience. The girls were awesome and I wouldn’t have been able to experience lacrosse at a college level, which was a totally different game. Yes, I had played it in high school, but this was something new, and at the same time familiar, which was great for me.

How did you end up joining the lacrosse team?
The lacrosse team found themselves with only one goalie in the fall of last year. Two of the girls on the lacrosse team, Brooke and Kelly Boyd, went to my high school so while they were juniors and seniors I was a freshman and sophomore and we played on the same team. They, I believe, approached their coach and mentioned that I was on the field hockey team and had experience. [UVA lacrosse head coach] Julie Myers contacted Michele Madison and at the end of the field hockey season, between the coaches and I, we worked out a schedule where I would still be able to participate in spring field hockey but help out the lacrosse team as much as I could.

Leading up to spring break, I would travel with the lacrosse team to all of their games. I was practicing once a week with the lacrosse team, once a week individually with Coach Myers and then outside of that I was still able to attend almost all spring field hockey practices, which were four days a week. Then I stayed in Charlottesville for spring break and was full time lacrosse, two or three practices a day, two games I believe. For about five weeks after spring break, I would miss lacrosse games because there were four field hockey games. I still practiced once a week when I could, I still did four field hockey practices and once spring field hockey ended, which was probably around mid April, I was full time lacrosse for the next three weeks or so for the rest of the season and post-season.

Last field hockey season, you redshirted, but in the spring, you were splitting goal keeping duties with Rebecca Holden. How did those spring games go for you as part of a goal-keeping tandem?
In the spring, Becca was the lead goalie. Some of the days we played were `play days’, where we would play half games, maybe four of them in the same day. The first few either half games or whole games that I got thrown into, there wasn’t much action. You could tell it was just kind of easing me into it. And then we had a play day at Maryland. It was the same kind of thing where the first two 35 minute periods I played I didn’t see much action and then against Syracuse I had a lot of shots and did well. It was just a nice surprise. When we played at UConn I think Becca and I both faced a decent amount of shots. That was a great team victory. We both had a role in it, which was nice. The UConn game was just a huge step forward for the team and it gave us a really good outlook for the fall and for 2015.

Talk about the different goalkeeping styles that you both have.
I remember the first few times I watched Becca play, the first thing I noticed was her footwork. She has the fastest footwork I have ever seen. When we do ladders she was putting everyone to shame. I was so jealous. I think it’s just some thing to do with the size, I’m a little less nimble, but my reach gives me some advantages. Where if I lay down in front of the cage, if I see a shot, I just have a longer reach and I take up more of the cage. I think sometimes I’m better able to steal the ball away from an attacker with my stick. I can keep my distance from them but still be able to get my stick on the ball. We had one of our preseason scrimmages this year. We did a shootout at the end just for practice and Becca and I each played five of the shootouts I think and together we saved nine out of ten but I think all five that I played I ended up stealing the ball away from the girl with my stick just because I had the reach. When we train we do compensate from the differences sometimes. [Assistant coach] Ole [Keusgen] trains mostly with the goalies and he will instruct her a little differently than me, but I think that’s a great thing for our goal tandem to have because if one is in the game and a team figures out their weaknesses and how to score on them you switch it out with another goalie and it’s a whole different set of challenges for the other team.

You grew up on a horse farm, correct?
Yes, I grew up on a horse farm outside of Baltimore called Helmore Farm. It’s kind of a weird countryside area, but you’re 15 minutes from the inner harbor. When I was younger, we had thoroughbred racehorses and then as I’ve gotten older, the farm transitioned into a farm for riding ponies. We put in a riding ring. It has been a great place to grow up. I was able to ride horses as a kid. I had pony on the farm for a while named Cody. My dad and I had matching ponies; it was cute. I can’t remember my dad’s pony’s name, but they were both pintos. His was grey and white and mine was brown and white. I do remember that. I didn’t stay so much in the riding world because I chose to follow sports. You have to pick and choose after a while but being on the farm. I think the biggest impact for me was more the space you have and the opportunities so having farm equipment around I grew up driving a golf cart around the farm or riding a dirt bike to the office on the other side of the farm to just eat lunch with my parents. Just stuff like that is different than most kids I think. I have two older brothers that and we would go camping on the farm. I don’t think many people would have that opportunity to do that living in a neighborhood. I remember times when we would have a storm come through and we would have a lot of trees down and I would be out there helping with a chain saw cutting trees down. Everybody’s got to pitch in on a farm, but it was amazing growing up there and I hope it stays in the family for a while.

Another random fun-fact, your father, Dale Lucas, was a member of the U.S. Bobsledding team?
Yes, he was for a while, before I was born, though. My dad loves to be super busy and the farm is his career. He was a horse trainer and then he was the owner of the racehorse and now he runs the whole farm, but on the side, he always has a hobby. Bobsledding was a little more than a hobby for a while. I have heard some great stories, randomly dug up some awesome trophies around the house and randomly dug up some awesome leather bobsledding gloves with the Canadian flag on them. It is definitely cool trying to pry information out of him about the glory days. I mean, just knowing that someone in my family could do something that cool, maybe I could do something that cool one day.

Your dad is known to your teammates and their families know for one of his other talents.
Yup. He’s the barbecue man. So that’s another hobby, competitive BBQ. He goes in stages and every couple of years it’s something new. A couple years back, he started doing barbecue classes and was working with Myron Mixon. If you’ve ever seen the TV show BBQ Pitmasters, he’s one of the stars on that show. He got really involved in Myron’s team and started competing. Most people probably don’t know that there is such a thing as barbecue competitions but Myron is known as the “winningest man in BBQ” and my dad started moving his way up in Myron’s team and then started competing with his own team `Pigs in Blankets’ and it was a family affair. We all get involved and when the whole family can’t make it, we recruit the UPS man, we’ve had the Comcast guy, friends parents, cousins, anyone who wants to help gets sucked in. Its always a good time. Unfortunately I’ve missed a lot of them from being at college or in high school at tournaments, but I always get excited to go to competitions. I won’t claim to know much about the process, but if they need a dish washed or if they need something wrapped in foil, that’s my job. He is still doing it today. Now he’s done less competitions but my teams benefit. He will tailgate for us or cater. He’s working on a new mobile kitchen that we might see at some tailgates soon I think everyone’s excited for that. It will be a whole ordeal with smokers, sinks, stovetops, I think a place to sleep, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was painted blue and orange.

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