Navy women’s lacrosse senior defender Caroline Kwon recently spoke to PressBox about her typical day at the Naval Academy, her goal to become a military doctor and more. Kwon picked up 10 ground balls and caused nine turnovers in 2019 and picked up four ground balls during the shortened 2020 season. A native of Cooksville, Md., Kwon graduated from Glenelg High School.
PressBox: How did you become interested in lacrosse?
Caroline Kwon: My mom, [Chin Kwon], actually used to play growing up and she played a couple years in college at Hopkins. She’s always loved the game and been really invested, so in elementary school when I was getting into rec sports, she [encouraged] me to play. I really did not enjoy it at first, mostly because I was so bad. Quickly I came to just really love the game. Where I lived in Howard County, there were a lot of good programs and a good system of working your way from rec to travel to club. I just got really lucky in being part of some really great teams.
PB: How did your mother influence your game growing up?
CK: I was able to practice with my mom in our backyard almost every day. Since she knew how to play, she could give me pointers. It was more than just playing wall ball or something. We could both move around and I could get a little extra practice on the side. She was a big influence on me playing and me getting better in the beginning.
PB: Why did you choose to come to the Naval Academy?
CK: When I was getting recruited — so right around freshman year — Navy was actually the first school to reach out. I originally had absolutely no interest in Navy or the Naval Academy, but I decided to take a visit and tour the school. Once I did, I learned about the program, about the school, about the opportunities. When I met some of the players on the team, it completely shifted my perspective. When I would go and visit other schools after that, it was just really hard to compare other places to Navy just because Navy seemed to have a leg up on just so many aspects, whether it be lacrosse or academics. Once I had Navy as the first taste of college lacrosse, I couldn’t really go back.
PB: What’s a normal day like for you at the Naval Academy?
CK: We usually have formation at 7 a.m., so we’ve got to wake up, get dressed in our uniform and head down to formation. I’ll eat breakfast. Usually my first class will start at 7:45. I usually have a pretty packed schedule, especially in-season just because we have to reserve certain blocks for lacrosse. The rest of my school day is usually filled with class. From about 7:45 to 11:45, I have class. Eat a quick lunch and then we’ll usually have either lift or film during lunch. I usually have another hour of class after that. And then around 3 o’clock is when I’ll head out to practice. From 3:00 to 5:30 or 6:00 we’ll have practice, and then dinner, and then just working for the night on schoolwork.
PB: What’s your favorite memory so far at Navy?
CK: That’s hard. Lacrosse-wise, I would say my favorite memory is when we beat Florida at home my sophomore year because we were obviously the underdog going into that game, but it was just really fun playing in our home stadium. That was the first year and season that I had a starting position, so I was really nervous and I was really excited. It was a close game throughout and we were able to pull off the win, so that was probably one of my top memories.
PB: What’s an Army-Navy lacrosse game like?
CK: Army-Navy’s super cool just because it has so much tradition. For the girls, it’s more of a new tradition because they have a more recent team, but Navy Athletics as a whole takes in Army vs. Navy and all of its sports. Whether it be football or whatnot, everyone gets really invested. For lacrosse especially, it’s always really fun because it’s a doubleheader with the boys. Obviously the boys have a super, super deep tradition themselves. So just having that together and just having the school rally behind you for this special game, it gives me the chills every time just thinking about it.
PB: What’s your favorite thing about the Naval Academy and Annapolis?
CK: My favorite thing about the Naval Academy would just be probably the people. You can’t argue with the location, and it’s beautiful on the water. … But I would say the people here, especially my teammates, are definitely the best part of this whole experience. It can be pretty tough at times, but going through the process and having all these opportunities with these really incredible people is a pretty invaluable experience.
PB: Who’s your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores your friendship?
CK: That’s tough because pretty much all my teammates are my best friends. But someone I’m really, really close with is Nicole Victory. She’s a senior, No. 44, attacker, probably one of our best attackers. It’s so hard to think of just one moment. There was one game — I think it was against Georgetown — and Nicole plays attack. Georgetown is a really good game, and we playing a zone against them. That was part of our strategy. I just remember one of the middies had gotten held up because they had a fast break, and Nicole just booked it down all the way from the attacking side to help that middie out. She came out of the defensive side and I just remember, she looked so lost and so scared. She was like, “OK, just tell me what to do,” and so I was just on the fly telling her what to do, how to work the zone. But I think just that relationship of her willingness to do anything for the team, for me and vice versa, I think that just really explains our friendship.
PB: Who was a player you looked up to early in your career at Navy?
CK: I would say someone I really looked up to was Blake Smith. She was our captain [in 2018]. She was a defender. She just really set the example on all [levels], whether it be playing on the field or leading on and off the field and in the halls. She was just a really great mentor to have and a really good player to aspire toward.
PB: What advice would you give to younger players?
CK: I would probably just say set high goals and high standards and be willing to invest as much time and hard work as needed because results don’t really come overnight, especially when you set high goals. … It takes a lot of time on your own and outside of practice. You’re going to invest a lot of your physical and mental capacity toward reaching those goals, but it’s definitely worth it. The Naval Academy’s a great place to have a lot of opportunities during college and after.
PB: What are your goals for after lacrosse?
CK: I just recently service selected Medical Corps, so the hope is that after I graduate from the Naval Academy I will go to medical school for four years and then pursue that career path and become a physician.
PB: Why did you select that?
CK: In high school, I started to become really interested and passionate about medicine and I had an internship at Johns Hopkins. That really [led to] my investment in that career path, which is pretty rare for the military, but luckily the Navy does offer a couple students every year the opportunity to go to medical school and eventually serve as a doctor in the Navy. The past four-plus years, that’s been my goal and something I’ve been working toward. I’m just really excited to be able to serve patients [and] serve as a military doctor and be able to give back that way.
PB: What did you do last spring as far as lacrosse after the season was canceled?
CK: That was super odd and a bit of a bummer. It was just about individually working out and kind of staying on top of our game. We knew that we wanted to have a big season coming back, so just getting creative. I was able to play with some of my local friends and players that went to high school with me and stuff. Just being really disciplined to be in shape and maintain our stick skills.
Photo Credit: Phil Hoffmann/Navy Athletics