Feb. 4, 2014
Senior, Defense, 5-5
In three days, the Vanderbilt lacrosse team begins the 2014 season on Friday 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, senior Alyssa Dunlap continues our countdown and is the last of the 29 players to be spotlighted. Associate head coach Susan Ellis and head coach Cathy Swezey will wrap up our countdown on Wednesday and Thursday.
Dunlap, a native of Villanova, Pa., is a captain for the second straight season and has started all 48 games of her career - the most of any current player on the roster. The stingy defender tied fellow senior captain Brandi Byner for the most caused turnovers last season with 21. She also was third in draw controls (18) and ground balls (26).
Dunlap, whose father, Bret, wrestled at James Madison University, is a corporate leadership major and has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll the past three seasons.
What is different about this year's team? Everyone keeps mentioning the senior leadership.
We do a really nice job of balancing one another out. I think the five of us bring different ideas, perceptions and opinions to the table. It really allows us to take on different perspectives. And we all get along really well. So it is easy.
What does that mean to you to start every game of your career?
It means a lot. There has been a lot of change in the program since I've been a freshman - some good, some bad. But every change that has been made I've learned from. It has been a really positive thing for me, especially this year just being a senior. It is my last year and it means the world. So I'm excited.
How have you matured and grown over the last three years?
I think just confidence in general. I think being a captain last year had its positives and also had its negatives. It was a little bit tough as a junior being an underclassmen. But it definitely prepared me for some of the issues we've faced this year and things we've encountered. I feel like I, as well as some of my other peers, have really come into their own to lead the team and hopefully be successful.
Is the NCAA Tournament something you're striving for?
It is a team goal. I know for the senior class, yeah, we came in (as freshmen) basically expecting to make NCAAs. They had made it all the years before and we haven't made it since. I know that is pretty high up on our list for our goals.
What would it mean to go out that way with a berth in the NCAA Tournament?
It would mean the absolute world. Coming from our freshman year, it has been tougher every year. New people. New teammates. Young players. We graduated a group of 10 (in 2012). So there has definitely been hits but at the same time that is where we need to come together. If we can make it to the NCAA Tournament that means we've done our job more than expected. That would just mean the world.
After this year, do you know what you're doing beyond lacrosse and school?
There have been a lot of different ideas that have gone through my mind. Coaching was one of them, coaching collegiately. Right now I'm looking toward starting my own club team with a friend from high school. We are looking to maybe possibly do it somewhere else besides Pennsylvania, where I'm from. If that comes together great. But just the challenge of starting something new but still having to do with lacrosse would be great. I still want to stay in sports. I love it too much.
Finally, deep sea fishing is one of your hobbies?
I love it. My parents were like, 'We want to do something for you for graduation. What would you to do?' This is really bizarre but my dad really wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I'm really into that sort of thing. I love hiking. But I just had this weird gut feeling that it wasn't the right time to do it. I think that is something I would love to do. It is on my bucket list. But not now. So I was like, 'You know what I really want, guys? I want to go deep sea fishing and I want to catch deep sea fishing and I want to catch big game fish. So we're thinking maybe Cabo to go marlin and tuna fishing.
So have you ever gone deep sea fishing before?
I have. We went to Cabo years back. I had a blast. We ended up hooking one and it came off so I never actually got to bring the fish on board. There is a piece of me… I don't know - I want it. I want to do it. I was younger too so I wasn't able to really reel anything.
So does this love of deep sea fishing come from your dad?
Yeah. It is really funny. My grandfather and dad they went fishing all the time so I just kind of tagged along.
Age I picked up a lacrosse stick: 10 years old
I picked my jersey number (No. 33) because: I like double numbers
When I was a kid I tried to be like: Mia Hamm
What I need to improve on to be a better player: Keeping my head up and feet moving
The thing that impresses me the most about Coach Swezey: Her ability to motivate the team before a game. Her pregame speeches are textbook.
Favorite part about playing at Vanderbilt: Getting to be around 30 of the coolest girls every day
Favorite sport other than lacrosse: Soccer and snowboarding
Favorite musical performer: Britney Spears
Favorite movie: Harry Potter series
Favorite midnight snack: Trail mix
Favorite thing about myself: My carefree style
Worst habit: My constant need for chocolate
Dream date: Channing Tatum
The best tasting food I can make: Chocolate chip pancakes
My bucket list includes: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, cage diving, bike across the country
Favorite athlete to watch in another sport: Abby Wambach
Talent I'd most like to have: Being able to break dance
Favorite thing to do away from lacrosse: Hike and explore
I'm as good as anyone at: Ping Pong
My best non-athletic talent: Drawing and photography
Favorite aspect of Nashville: Neon signs of Broadway
Superstitions: I don't believe in them
The person I'd love to trade places with for a day: Beyonce
What I would do if I won the lottery: Backpack around New Zealand. Then buy a log cabin overlooking mountains
Other interesting facts about yourself: Deep sea fishing is my favorite hobby
Ultimate vacation destination: New Zealand
The person(s) I admire most: My parents
Career goal: To wake up every morning excited to go to work
The most famous person I've met: Taylor Swift waiting in line at Fido
Most important thing I've learned since coming to Vanderbilt: If you want change to happen you have to take it upon yourself to make it happen.
My advice to young people is: You can achieve anything you put your mind to if you work hard enough.