#NationalSigningDay2019: Nalepa soars to Winthrop University Eagles



Cassie Nalepa poses for a photo with her parents after signing her National Letter of Intent.

On  November 13, hundreds of students across the nation signed to continue their academic and athletic careers at the universities of their choice. One of these student athletes is senior, Cassie Nalepa, who signed to play lacrosse at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Her sisters both played field hockey, which prompted Nalepa to try something different: lacrosse. Nalepa instantly fell in love with the sport in first grade and has continued to play for over a decade. She currently plays for M&D Lacrosse as a defensive mid-fielder.

The path to success was not a smooth one. She has had several knee injuries.

“It brings me great joy to be here at signing day and talk about Cassie. She is the most determined athlete I have ever encountered ever in the five or six years I’ve been coaching,” said Nalepa’s assistant coach, Georgianna Porter.

Despite her multiple knee injuries, Nalepa persevered through her pain to reach her end goal: playing lacrosse in college.  “I felt like quitting lacrosse after my multiple knee injuries. When I was first starting out I always wanted to play in college so that sort of helped me persevere through it and keep playing,” said Nalepa.

“Cassie has worked hard to get to where she is. She has had setbacks, but has persevered and kept focused on her goals despite challenges. It has been exciting watching her grow as a person, student and athlete,” said Cassie’s mom, Mary Nalepa. “Cassie is independent and has a lot of spunk, drive and determination. She has possessed these characteristics from an early age and they have helped her get to where she is now. I’m excited for her.”

Nalepa said, “I chose Winthrop because I really wanted to play in the South. I don’t particularly like playing in cold weather. I really liked the coaching staff at Winthrop and just the overall feel, campus, and team chemistry.”

Coached by Julika Blankenship, the Division I program finished 8 – 11 last year.

Nalepa’s mother and father haven an immense amount of pride for their accomplished daughter. Jim Nalepa said, “We are proud of all of Cassie’s accomplishments, academic, athletic and life achievements. We feel her successes will prepare her well as she is about to begin her collegiate journey and look forward to seeing what future accomplishments are in store for Cassie.”

Nalepa plans to further her education by majoring in biology. As Nalepa begins a new chapter of her life, her parents hope for the best.

“I hope that Cassie will continue to find success in all she does. I hope she enjoys her experiences at Winthrop attending class there, meeting new people, playing lacrosse and branching out on her own,” said Mary Nalepa.