Jan. 28, 2014
Junior, Defense, 5-8
In 10 days, the Vanderbilt lacrosse team begins the 2014 season on Feb. 7 at Kennesaw State. To get ready for the 19th season in program history, vucommodores.com will spotlight all 29 players and coaches Cathy Swezey, Susan Ellis and Julie Gardner. This segment will offer an inside look into the team on and off the field.
Today, junior defender Alex Duckenfield, who wears jersey No. 10, continues our countdown. The Rutledge, Pa., native started all 17 games last year and finished third on the team with 15 caused turnovers to go along with 20 ground balls. An ankle injury has kept her out of practice but she is expected to return early in the season.
Her mother, Jen Duckenfield, coached her for four years at Strath Haven High School, where Alex was named a US Lacrosse All-American. She was also named all-state in field hockey and broke the school's all-time scoring record. Duckenfield is a human organizational and development major. She is unsure of exact career goals but does have an interest in public relations or communications jobs. She spent last summer as an intern in the broadcasting room of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia where she met several of her favorite pro athletes, including quarterback Michael Vick.
We sat down with Duckenfield recently to talk about recovering from injury, this year's team and being coached by her mom.
How has that been getting back to full health?
It has been hard watching because you just want to be out there playing with everyone. Getting back into it feels fine. It is kind of like riding a bike. You're motivated to keep going because you want to be out there. The team has been working really hard so that has been nice to see.
Have you ever been injured before?
No. This is my first injury. It's been tough just watching because I love to play. I love to be out there. But you can't push it because you don't want to be out the whole season.
So how excited are you to finally get going?
I'm so excited. This is going to be such a great year. We have really great chemistry. The coaches are awesome. (The indoor facility) place is awesome to be able to be in here and not focus on how cold it is. Being able to get our stick skills down has been great.
How does your role change this year?
Just leading the upperclassmen, communicating more, showing people the defenses and just having more of an impact role this year. Getting more turnovers and ground balls, I'm excited. It should be a good year.
How good can this line of defense be with you, Brandi Byner, Alyssa Dunlap and Gabrielle Nesi?
Really good. This is going to be a good year for us. We're a strong unit and we've been really cohesive as a group so far. Our cohesiveness, our talk - we just really know each other. So we know what our slides are and how our other defenders play.
You've played lacrosse since third grade and your mom got you into it?
My mom has been my youth club coach and my high school coach. She is kind of funny. She is a famous coach back in Philly. She is kind of a celebrity. I go back home and people are like, 'Oh my God, you are Coach Duck's daughter?' And I'm like, 'Who are you?' She has built an empire up there. I've been blessed to have great coaches. Sue and Cathy are amazing and Julie has been a great addition. I can't even imagine for playing for anyone else.
How was it like to play for your mom?
It was fun. We definitely had a different relationship. I didn't call her 'Mom' on the field. I called her 'Coach.' She was always harder on me than she was on other people, which I think made me better.
Lacrosse is huge where you're from (near Philadelphia)?
Oh yeah. Here it is funny. People don't know as much. I think when I was a freshman a couple of us were going to class and people asked us if we were going fishing. I was like, 'Um, no. Not so much.' (Laughs) That was a culture shock because you go from where everyone knows what it is to going fishing.
Have you been enjoyed being down here in the south and Nashville?
Oh, I love it. It is so great. Vanderbilt is the best decision I've ever made.
What were your responsibilities with your internship at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia this past summer?
I cut some of their film highlights. I worked in the studio. I helped the anchors remember their lines. That was cool. I don't know if I want to be a broadcaster. This summer I'm going to try something different just to see. I feel like it will be so hard not to be in sports. I've done it my whole life. I don't know what I'm going to do when I stop playing sports. I'm going to be weirdly competitive at the gym, I feel like it, with sports classes.
Age I picked up a lacrosse stick: In third grade
A few words that describe the way I play lacrosse: Fearless
The thing that impresses me the most about Coach Swezey: She's extremely passionate and dedicate to our team and helping us succeed
Favorite part about playing at Vanderbilt: My teammates
Favorite sport other than lacrosse: Field hockey
Favorite musical performer: Britney Spears
Favorite movie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Nobody can believe I watch this TV show: Sons of Anarchy
Favorite midnight snack: Pizza
Dream date: Charlie Hunnam
The best tasting food I can make: Pancakes
My bucket list includes: Travel the world
Favorite athlete to watch in another sport: DeSean Jackson
Talent I'd most like to have: Artistic
Favorite thing to do away from lacrosse: Go to the beach
One thing my hometown is famous for: Cheesesteaks
My best non-athletic talent: I can sing like Celine Dion - I have the voice of an angel
The person I'd love to trade places with for a day: Coach Sue Ellis - she's the bomb
Other interesting facts about yourself: Interned at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and worked with some awesome pro athletes
What I would do if I won the lottery: I would travel and share it with my family and friends
Ultimate vacation destination: Anywhere with a beach
The person I admire the most: My mom
Career goal: Get a job
The best advice I've received: Always work your hardest and always do the right thing, even when nobody is looking - My mom
The most famous person I've met: Michael Vick
Biggest influence in my life: My mom
Most important thing I've learned since coming to Vanderbilt: Develop and maintain a good balance
My advice to young people is: Hard work creates success