Chandler Kirby: ‘Finishing My Last Tournament Was Bittersweet’

Darien's Chandler Kirby scores during a regular season win over New Canaan. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Darien’s Chandler Kirby scores during a regular season win over New Canaan. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

(The Ruden Report spent last weekend at The Northern Rise girls lacrosse showcase to go behind the scenes of the sport’s summer circuit. In this first part, Darien senior Chandler Kirby, who has committed to the University of Michigan, reflects on her final tournament with the CT Grizzlies)

I have played summer lacrosse since the 7th grade. Finishing my last tournament this past weekend was bittersweet, to say the least. That being said, each summer was different from the other. When I began summer lacrosse, it was carefree and fun. As I began to get older, this all started to change. It was definitely fun, just different.

Two summers ago, I remember seeing college coaches on the sideline with their clipboards and their college logos plastered all over their t-shirts, shorts, hats, even backpacks. I could not stop staring at them and was in complete awe. After a few minutes, my teammates and I knew whom every single coach was, our own coach urging us not to worry about who was on the sideline but rather just to play our game.

Initially, everyone’s game began to change, each of us wanting to look our best, scoring as much as we could, or making the best pass, etc. I was nervous, but I wanted to prove what I could do. I naively thought if I had one good game in front of these coaches, I would be all set. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a long year before I would commit to a college.

Two years later, nearly everyone on my team has made a commitment to a school, all these decisions coming at different times. The recruiting process is a long, long process and rightfully so, as you need to choose a school that you will love for the next four years and the college coaches have to choose you, as well.

Playing for Lisa Lindley’s summer team, the Grizzlies, has truly made a difference. Lisa has such great relationships with so many coaches, and she has been a fabulous advocate for all of her players. She is honest with us, as well, which, while sometimes is hard, it helps while navigating this whole process.

Darien's Chandler Kirby contains New Canaan's Elizabeth Miller during last month's FCIAC championship game.

Darien’s Chandler Kirby contains New Canaan’s Elizabeth Miller during last month’s FCIAC championship game.


I wanted to play at a Division I program because of the level of intensity and competition. Once I decided that, everything else went fairly smoothly. I started visiting schools in September of my sophomore year and made my decision roughly 10 months later. I tried to be thoughtful and thorough and did not want to rush into anything. I visited schools from Boston to Los Angeles, which was great, but time consuming. Getting all of these visits in while playing another sport and doing schoolwork wasn’t always easy.

Once our season started, not much happened. A few coaches would check in here and there, but they, too, are occupied with their own season. I made one last visit in the summer before my junior year, but by that point I knew where I wanted to end up. I visited about eight schools over the course of six months and tried to make a decision over the summer. The coaches didn’t pressure me initially as they knew I was young and trying to get a feel for different programs and different schools.

I wanted to be 100% sure with my decision, which was difficult as I was two years shy of actually attending college. I thought about it a lot, but when it came down to it, Michigan was an easy choice for me. It has a great college town, excellent academics and athletics, awesome school spirit and a large course selection among other things.

Darien's Chandler Kirby (left) still has her senior season before heading off to Michigan.

Darien’s Chandler Kirby (left) still has her senior season before heading off to Michigan.

Playing this past summer was really different than the summers in the past. Wearing an armband (meaning you are a commit to a school) made me much more relaxed. I knew I still needed to work really hard and play my best, but I didn’t stress out if I made a mistake.

We tried to play as a team and make sure that the girls who were still looking at schools were able to get the most playing time and we, as teammates, were there to help, if at all possible.

It has been a long journey but seems to all have worked out in the end.