By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The hours are long and the curriculum can be stressful, and so clinical instructors in the University of Virginia School of Nursing advise their students to exercise when they’re done at the hospital.
Workouts can help students “de-stress and forget about what happened at the hospital,” Kasey Behr said. “Once you’re gone, you’re gone. You don’t bring it home.”
Behr, a second-year nursing student, does not have to worry about getting enough exercise. She starts in the midfield for the UVA women’s lacrosse team, and on most days she heads straight from the nursing school to practice.
“It’s nice to get away and not think about schoolwork for two hours,” said Behr, who’s from the Long Island, N.Y., town of Northport.
Behr, the only nursing student on the lacrosse team, isn’t always able to lift weights with her teammates, and she’s late to practice a couple days each week. But she has the full support of head coach Julie Myers, a UVA alumna who marvels at Behr’s drive.
“She misses some moments here and there,” Myers said, “but she goes so hard that she’s really doing a lot with the time that she has.”
To juggle nursing school and a varsity sport, Myers noted, is not easy.
“You really have to be committed to doing your best in all areas,” Myers said. “That’s not necessarily unlike the other student-athletes at Virginia, but she’s not only managing but trying to find ways to excel in the nursing school, and then she comes right over here to practice. She has very little transition time from being a student to becoming an athlete. And then she usually goes right back into studying or into a lab or into practicum hours as soon as we’re done.
“She’s just always on, with the multiple hats that she’s wearing.”
Her teammates’ thoughts on Behr’s schedule? “They think I’m insane,” she said. “They see me studying till 3 in the morning.”
She smiled. “I don’t sleep.”
Behr has three siblings. Her brother, who played lacrosse at Hamilton College for two years, works on Wall Street. One of her sisters is a lawyer and the other a teacher.
Growing up, Behr dreamed at first of being a veterinarian. “Then — I think it was seventh or eighth grade — I got to go to work with my mom, and I just followed her around. I was so interested in it. My mom always said I would do something medical.”
Her mother is a labor and delivery nurse, and Behr expects to follow the same career path after college.
“I love helping people, and I love interacting with different people,” Behr said. “At the hospital yesterday, I met someone from Long Island. It’s things like that that are so interesting, and then just learning about what has happened in their past and what brought them in. It’s just very nice learning about their past and then learning about why they’re in there and where they’re from. It’s not just taking care of people. It’s interacting.”
On Tuesdays, Behr wakes up at 5:45 a.m. Forty-five minutes later, she’s at the UVA hospital, where she and other students are assigned to a patient.
“We can’t do any of the IV stuff yet because we’re only second-years,” Behr said, “but we do physical assessment, we talk to the patient about why they’re in, and we do all this paperwork. It’s the basic things, just to get used to being in the hospital.”
On the lacrosse field, the 5-8 Behr established herself as one of the ACC’s premier freshmen last season, scoring 26 goals and adding five assists. Four times she scored at least three goals in a game.
“When you think of some of the middies that we’ve had over time, and some of the best middies in the country, I think Kasey’s name is going to definitely work her way to the top of that list,” Myers said. “I think there’s nothing she can’t do.”
Because of Behr’s academic obligations, she can’t always train as much as her teammates. That’s slowed her development, which makes her accomplishments at Virginia even more impressive.
“If she had a little more time to put into some fitness and fine-tuning some of her skills, I think she’d go through the roof,” Myers said. “But she maximizes her time really well. So even though she’s not lifting with our team, and she’s doing it in the morning, I still think she’s getting more out of that morning lift than some other student-athletes would get if they were lifting without their team.”
Behr’s role in the program has changed significantly since the end of last season. A strong group of seniors, including Courtney Swan, Liza Blue, Casey Bocklet and Morgan Stephens, led the Wahoos in 2015.
“I definitely have to step it up this year,” Behr said.
Myers said: “Last year, with Courtney taking draws, and then that core group of attackers that just kind of set the tone for the attack, Kasey just had to be Kasey and chip away and score some goals and be really big and strong, the way that she just is naturally.
“But this year she is part of the organization. She’s not just coming in from the top and hoping for the best. She’s moving the ball, she’s setting that tempo, she’s really pushing the pace.
“Truly, she is a year older now, and we’re putting probably three more years of responsibility on her shoulders, because she seems to really thrive in that role. The more we ask of Kasey, the more excited she seems to get and the more she rises to the challenge.”
Virginia, ranked fourth nationally, plays at Princeton at noon Saturday. The Cavaliers (1-0) opened the season in impressive fashion last weekend, ending a nine-game losing streak against Northwestern.
Behr had two goals and an assist and recorded three draw controls to help the `Hoos knock off the Wildcats 10-8 in Kennesaw, Ga.
“People have been saying it’s a rebuilding year, but I honestly do not think that at all,” Behr said.
Some of the players now starting for Virginia were reserves in 2015. Still, Behr said, “even if they weren’t on the field last year, they were competing against a really good senior class. So I feel like they’ve watched them and they know what’s right and what’s wrong.”