Player Spotlight: Kate Graham

Player Spotlight: Kate Graham

Photo Credits: C.K. Hicks / UC Davis Athletics. Kate Graham (12) of UC Davis Women's Lacrosse team in action during a match against Georgetown on March 8, 2020 at UC Davis Health Stadium.

UC Davis Women’s Lacrosse midfielder talks college career

Senior midfielder Kate Graham is a force on the UC Davis women’s lacrosse team. The San Francisco native and sociology-organizational studies major began playing lacrosse in the second grade when she and her two best friends decided to join the local club team. Despite never having any exposure to lacrosse before that, she fell in love with the sport and has continued playing ever since. 

During her high school career, Graham played lacrosse, basketball and waterpolo all four years and earned multiple All-Marin County Athletic League awards for each sport. As a midfielder on the UC Davis team, Graham’s career has only picked up. In her freshman year Graham started all but one game and scored 13 goals and recorded 16 assists. She continued to improve in her sophomore year, starting all 14 games and scoring seven goals and compiling seven assists. By her junior year at UC Davis, she started 17 games, scored 14 goals and was selected for the All-MPSF team for the first time. 

The Aggie sat down with Graham to discuss how she’s grown as a player at UC Davis, her collegiate career so far and her plans for after college.

The California Aggie: What made you choose UC Davis?

Kate Graham: I was kind of lost during the recruiting process. I’m pretty indecisive, so I never knew. I was like, “Oh, maybe I’ll go to the East Coast. Maybe I’ll go to a football school, maybe I’ll go to a school that has 10 people or 30,000.” Davis was the first school that showed interest in me, and I wasn’t really sure what direction I was going to go in at that point. So I held off and just went to other things, explored other options and then I came back to a Davis camp. I tell this story a lot, but when you go to camps and tournaments and you talk to girls who are committed to schools, a lot of times they don’t acknowledge you as much because they’re the cool, committed girls. And I remember I came to Davis camp and all the committed girls were so talkative, so willing to ask you questions — be kind to you. A specific alumni, Natalie Garces, asked me who I was and what I was doing there. I instantly was like, “Oh, these people are normal and nice.” So I fell in love with the school.

TCA: How much has changed for you as a player since your freshman year?

KG: Well, the rules have changed, they change every year. And we’ve had a bunch of coaching changes. I was recruited by a coach, they left, and then I had a new coach my freshman year. They left, and now I’ve had Suzanne [Isidor]. So I think in that formal aspect, a lot has changed. But when it comes to playing, I would say I’ve learned to play for my team, with my team. And everyone on the team plays the exact same way, like we’re a family on and off the field. I think that bond has only grown since my freshman year to my senior year — these girls are my best friends. I know they have my back. So you can play with so much more trust and compassion on the field.

TCA: What advice would you give your freshman self coming into your college career at UC Davis?

KG: Go hard, [play with] energy. Don’t be afraid to fail, make mistakes, do weird things. Make yourself uncomfortable on the field because it’s just gonna pay off. Don’t just do what you’re good at, do something challenging — practice your behind the backs, practice with your left hand, because it’s all gonna pay off in the long run. Make yourself uncomfortable.

TCA: How do you prepare for games mentally? Do you have any rituals or anything that you have to do pre-game? 

KG: I used to be super superstitious in high school. I would eat the same sandwich, eat a jolly rancher, glue a penny onto my locker — I was psycho about it. And coming into college, I was kind of the same way. But this year, I’ve just let it all go and I am just way more calm and casual. It feels so much better to just be like, “It’s fine. I know what I’m doing. I’ve done this for so long, I don’t need a ritual.” Although, I do brush my teeth before every game, every single time. I brush my teeth like a normal person. And then before the game, once I’m done eating and drinking or whatever, I brush my teeth [again].

TGA: Given the career and the success that you’ve had here at UC Davis, what do you think has helped you become the player you are today?

KG: It sounds cheesy, but my teammates, wholeheartedly. When I came in freshman year, everyone just boosted my confidence [and] boosted everyone else’s confidence. We talk about trust and trusting every person who comes off the bench. So as soon as you step off the bench, those girls respect you and they know that you’re supposed to be out there for a reason. So I would just say my teammates — people pumping you up during practice, congratulating each other, staying after and doing extra work after practice, it all contributes to it. But having that strong unit that backs you up and supports you and gives you that confidence only reiterates the confidence that you already had for yourself.

TCA: As a senior who’s wrapping up the end of your career here at Davis, what are you going to miss most about playing lacrosse?

KG: Probably the team. Not only that — because I know that they’re going to be my friends forever — but probably just the fact that to play competitively and to get to be competitive. It’s not weird that you’re competitive, you know, because it’s so legit. I’ve played competitive sports, all these girls have, our whole lives. Where does that energy go? What do you channel that aggression and that competitive edge towards? So I’ll have to find another outlet.

TCA: What do you plan to do after you graduate? 

KG: I’m actually not worried at all. We have the [Aggie] EVO system, which is for athletics, it helps you plan for what you’re doing in the future. So I’m just looking around. I’m from the Bay Area, so I am lucky that I am from a place that has lots of job opportunities. I’m thinking about relaxing in the summer, taking my time and then hopefully landing into something in the fall. But honestly, who knows. I could be on a boat, I could be in another country — totally going with the flow. For one time [in] my life, I won’t have a schedule. So why not enjoy it?

TCA: Do you have any personal goals for the rest of the season?

KG: I think just having fun, wholeheartedly, like it’s my last year playing a competitive sport ever. I want to enjoy every minute of it. And I think we’re in the position to do that — great coaches, great support, great players. This is a year where we can beat a lot of people. I think the goal, of course, is to win the MPSF. We’ve won the regular season twice and then lost the championship twice. So capitalizing on that would be super cool, but besides that like having fun. It’s a sport. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Enjoy our time here.

**Since the interview with Graham, all remaining UC Davis athletics events for this year have been suspended.  

Written by: Priya Reddy — sports@theaggie.org