Caroline Phelps is locked in at whatever she does.
Case in point, the Rivers School midfielder was living on Cape Cod over the summer and working a retail job to afford gas money, unaware that there was an email from her coach letting her know that she had been named a U.S. Lacrosse All-American.
Entrenched in her work, Phelps did not get the message for two weeks, when she decided to check her school email account.
“I don’t really check my email that much in the summer and she emailed my school email,” she explained. “That’s how I found out.”
The Natick, Mass., native earned that honor after finishing second in the Independent School League with 49 points (32 goals, 17 assists), which also netted her All-ISL honors as well as the 2017 Coaches Award.
What makes Phelps even more dynamic is that her offensive numbers are matched by her defensive prowess, as she led the team in turnovers created thanks to a relentless work ethic.
“She’s got a tireless work ethic and she’s grown into a leader on the field,” Rivers head coach Lisa Parsons said. “She sets the tone for practice every day. She really only knows one speed. She’s also worked incredibly hard on her stick. She loves the sport of lacrosse and does everything she can to get better, and she’s a force at both ends of the field.”
For Phelps, her love of lacrosse came late, as sports such as basketball, soccer and even cross country took precedence over it.
In fact, she says that she didn’t get serious about the sport until she arrived at Rivers, where she has blossomed since, thanks in large part to her participation in those other endeavors.
Phelps even rounded into an All-ISL cross country selection as a junior, and though she chose to focus on her lacrosse training this year in lieu of longdistance running, there is plenty that crosses over from one sport to another and puts her in a unique position because of it.
“Running the midfield, we don’t sub ever, so getting the endurance to stay in the whole game and being able to get up and down the field, that helped,” she explained. “The whole mindset of running on the field is key.”
“She has a quick first step and she has amazing endurance,” Parsons added. “She learned the endurance but was born with the quick first step.”
Her continued growth into one of the country’s top prep players is all due to her thirst to be the best.
Phelps plays club lacrosse with Mass Elite and goes through intense workouts at Athletic Republic in Norwood, Mass., with a focus on plyometrics and speed work on a treadmill that can get up to 25 miles per hour. Translating that on to the lacrosse field has a trickle-down effect to the team as well, with her teammates readily going toe-to-toe with her in practices knowing that they are only improving their own stand in the process.
“She has an amazing workout regimen,” Parsons said. “She is committed to the workouts. She knows the physical side of the game is equally important.
“In practices, everyone wants to compete against Caroline. She’s the kid who everyone wants to beat, whether it’s a ground ball contest, whether it’s going one-on-one. She’s that kid that pushes everyone else to work hard.”
Working alongside her at Rivers this year are a pack of multi-sport athletes that includes fellow All-ISL teammate and impact midfielder Isabel Silvia, crafty left-handed attacker Nathalie Han, and key contributors Annabelle and Mallory Hasselback, the daughters of former NFL quarterback Matt.
“Because Rivers is such a small school, we really rely on the multi-sport athlete. We love having the multi-sport athletes,” Parsons said. “We will absolutely put them to the test. We hope that our early season scrimmages will get us ready.”
From here, Phelps will carry her lacrosse career over to Villanova University, a place where she found comfort in the challenge of the academics, a perfect student body mix, and the chance for her family to come and watch her play.
While she is excited for the next step, her pinpoint focus remains on the season at hand, where getting off to a strong start is tantamount to ensuring that Rivers can assert itself against the best of the best in the ISL.
“Last year, we had a big younger presence, which placed a lot on them to do their job on the field,” Phelps said. “We didn’t lose many seniors or starters; everyone is back and running and everyone’s sticks look really good.
“I want to end with a winning season. Last year, we got off to a rough start. I think it’s really important that we start out on a really strong note. We need to work together, set the tone early.”