The Newberg High School grad picked up the sport as a freshman, will play for DII Fort Lewis College

It's funny how things work out sometimes.

That's been on the mind of recent Newberg High School graduate Ann Nelson who's headed off to play lacrosse at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., although she couldn't have predicted that outcome even just a couple of years ago.

A lifelong athlete, Nelson didn't pick up the sport until she was a freshman at NHS and even then, she broke her ankle during preseason practice and had to sit out that entire season. GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Newberg High School graduate Ann Nelson will continue her lacrosse career next spring at NCAA Division II Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.

Nelson then played mostly junior varsity, but swung with the varsity team as she developed her skills.

Even as she became a regular contributor as a junior, the team was led by a large group of seniors that had pretty much spearheaded the program during their four-year career.

So despite playing essentially just two varsity seasons, lacrosse ended up being the driving force in her college choice.

"It would be completely different without lacrosse," Nelson said. "I don't know where I would be going now. It's crazy."

Her passion for the sport really blossomed following her junior year, which is when she joined a club team, the Tenacity Project, to hasten her development and get exposure to college coaches.

She followed up by running Newberg's fall and winter offseason practices and even based her senior project around the sport by coaching a middle school team and hosting a youth camp.

Linfield is the only local school that Nelson considered, with the others being conference rivals of Fort Lewis in the Colorado area, including Regis, Westminster and Colorado State-Pueblo. Because they are Division II schools, they could offer athletic scholarships, but Nelson said that was really just a bonus and was more motivated by the higher level of competition.

"I just wanted to go a little bit further and DII was the right fit," Nelson said.

She enjoyed her visit to Fort Lewis so much that she still chose the school even though it did not offer her preferred major of nursing. Instead she will major in public health.

"That was rough and a little bit of a drawback, but everything else outranked the other schools," Nelson said. "I really liked the coach and the team dynamic. I felt the most comfortable on my visit to that school."

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