RACHEL LAPAR was named Division II Player of the Year for her work on the field hockey field this fall. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 02, 2013WOLFEBORO — Sometimes, hard work and dedication pay off. Rachel Lapar is a pretty good example of that.
The Kingswood senior has had a solid month, as she made a commitment to play Division I collegiate field hockey at Holy Cross and capped off her high school career by being named First Team All-State and Division II Player of the Year.
"It was such a nice closure to the end of my high school career for field hockey," Lapar said of the Player of the Year honors. "I've always wanted to make First Team All-State, it's been a dream since freshman year.
"Finally, everything I've worked for, it paid off," she said. "It feels really good."
Lapar has been a three-sport athlete throughout her career at Kingswood, playing basketball and lacrosse in addition to her exploits on the field hockey field, but field hockey is her true love, the game that she can never get enough of.
"Field hockey is my passion," she said. "Whenever I'm on a field, I just want to be the best.
"To go play at the Division I collegiate level is the ultimate feeling, no matter what happens next year."
Despite field hockey being her passion, Lapar was more than nervous when it came time to try out for the New Hampshire Twin State team, which includes the best seniors from New Hampshire, who will play against Vermont's best seniors in June. Tryouts were held at Kingswood for the first time this year.
"I was so nervous," she said. "Having it be at Kingswood was one of the best things. I felt so comfortable, I just nailed it."
The Twin State team was announced at the same time as the All-State teams and when Lapar got the word that she was not only on the Twin State team but was also the Division II Player of the Year, she was more than a little shocked.
"It almost hasn't hit me yet," she said in an interview a week after the honors were announced. "I thought it was a joke."
As great as the honors of making the Twin State team and First Team All-State and earning Player of the Year, Lapar said that really, she had one bigger goal.
"One of my biggest goals was to keep the younger kids in the program," she said, noting that she had the chance to possibly go to a prep school to advance her field hockey career. "I'm so glad I stayed and did everything I could.
"It makes me realize how much I wish people would stay in their school," she said. "I hope it's an inspiration to them (younger kids) to stay, to build up the program."
And now that she's donned the Kingswood field hockey uniform for the final time, Lapar will be heading south to Boston, where she will suit up for Holy Cross next season, something that she never could've imagined, just a few short years ago.
Lapar recalls being in eighth or ninth grade and walking around the Fox Run Mall and seeing a bunch of people wearing Holy Cross attire.
"I remember thinking to myself, I'll probably never go there," she said.
While she will now be realizing the dream of playing Division I field hockey at the collegiate level, she also knows it won't be easy.
"In my exit interview with coach (Kaitlin Reilly), we discussed how it is going to be hard, it's going to be a challenge," Lapar stated. "But this is what I want. I want the challenge, otherwise it wouldn't be as much fun."
The Knight senior is also well aware that everybody on the team will likely be coming in with the same accolades she has earned in her career, making for a lot of great competition.
She noted that she started getting e-mails from coaches and went to visit schools, but it's starting to feel a little more real now.
"I got an e-mail asking for stick size, clothing size, shoe size," she said with a smile. "It feels real now."
Lapar admitted that she really had no idea where she wanted to go to school and while she has made that decision, she still is a little unsure as to what she wants to do.
"I had never even though of Holy Cross, but I met the coach and she was so nice," Lapar said. "I went for an overnight visit and the campus was awesome."
While admitting that the competition will be tough and it's never easy going from the top of the heap as a high school senior to the bottom of the pile as a freshman, Lapar said that she's already met the team and a lot of the players that will be coming in with her, so that should make things easier come next summer.
And field hockey will become even more intertwined in her life.
"I've always wished field hockey was all year round, fall, winter and spring," she said. "Next year, it will be."
Lapar also admits that having the college decision off the table has made things a lot easier, especially as lots of her classmates continue to make their choices.
"I feel myself being much happier," she said. "Last year was so stressful, going to showcases and early visits, it was so nerve-wracking.
"Now that that's gone, it's so much easier," she added.
However, don't expect Lapar to be letting up much, as she continues to take a full load of Advanced Placement classes in her senior year. She will be back on the basketball court with the Knights this season and will also be back on the lacrosse field in the spring to wrap up her high school career.
So, it's a safe bet that the hard work will continue into the future for the Division II Player of the Year.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org