Mckenna Vranicar commits to Cal lacrosse

DHS is experiencing a golden age in competitive sports. Over the past four years, DHS has been home to conference champions, consistent playoff contenders, and all-conference athletes who are now playing at the competitive collegiate level. This success has made it harder than ever to distinguish oneself as an athlete at Deerfield High School, but junior Mckenna Vranicar is doing just that. She announced on August 12th that she will take her all-state talent to the University of California-Berkeley, committing to the lacrosse program for the 2018-2019 season.

Before the 2015 season, the Deerfield girls lacrosse team’s season high in wins was eight. In the two years since Vranicar joined the team, that record has been broken twice; 9 wins in 2015 season and a 15-6 record in the 2016 season. Vranicar’s presence was key in the progression of the lacrosse team.

Vranicar’s lacrosse journey began in third grade, after seeing her brother play, and she has loved the game ever since. Throughout all the games, tournaments, and practices, her favorite part of the sport is the team experience and bonding that it fosters.

“A big part of lacrosse that I love is the team aspect that I’ve gained from it ”she says, “not only from my travel team, Denver Summit, but here at the high school, the team is really close and everyone is so caring and fun and kind and that is a big thing.”

The realization that college lacrosse may be an opportunity for Vranicar did not appear to her until summer of 2014. This was when she first started meeting with college coaches and players, who piqued her interest to the thought of playing in college.

Girls varsity lacrosse coach Flo Mitran recognized that Vranicar’s skill and athleticism stood out above her peers from her first tryout in the spring of 2015. Mitran, a lacrosse expert in his own right, has been coaching girls lacrosse for six years, and has been the varsity head coach for the past two seasons.

“She was a freshman, she tried out for varsity. Initially her stick skills were very good… but she also has natural ability that she’s worked on, like speed, quickness” says the head coach. “But what separates her is her competitive spirit.”

Vranicar received her first college offer last February, and a flood of emotions washed over her. She was only a sophomore in high school and colleges and universities across the nation are looking at her. This much national attention required Vranicar to mature a great deal over a short time.

“I was shocked that automatically this school knew they wanted me” said the star midfielder. “I was such a baby, a sophomore, I couldn’t go to college yet. And since then, over the summer, I’ve really matured that this is what I want.”

Vranicar’s maturity is evident in more than just her collegiate decision. While possessing physical talent and impressive stick skills, Vranicar and her coach believe her greatest growth is evident in her progression as a first class teammate.

“It’s become less of ‘me’ on the field” said the phenomenal athlete.

Coach Mitran doubled down on this, “I see her growing as a captain on our team. She was a first time captain last year so she’s very in tune with the team, what the strengths and weaknesses are for the other players and how they can improve”

Her seven year career, from when Vranicar first picked up a lacrosse stick to when she made her collegiate decision, all culminates in one question: Why Cal-Berkeley? Why not go east to more renowned programs, or stay close to home? The choice was simple for Vranicar, as Cal incorporates her academic needs with her social wishes.

She’s certainly earned her spot in the program, putting up phenomenal team leading stats like goals with 86, shots on goal with 131, ground balls with 105, draw control with 109, and caused turnovers with 30.

More than that, she wants to experience new things and see what lacrosse and life on the west coast will be like. After years of hard work, countless weekends with friends missed out on for tournaments, and the seminal summers of her life filled up with lacrosse camps, Vranicar will finally be able to live her dream at Cal.

“Cal has been one of my dream schools since I’ve been looking at colleges for lacrosse because academically, it’s a really great school. I really wanted to have a bigger school, with a good football program with everything that could make me feel like I’m at school,” stated Vranicar. Through her hard work; hours, days, months sacrificed for the sake of lacrosse, Vranicar will be able to live out her dream. Although still in high school, Vranicar is prepared to take on the next chapter of her academic and athletic career.