Kathleen Mirgon liked to compete, so she joined the cross country team in junior high school. She had no idea she one day would be a team leader and statewide record-setter or earn a college scholarship as a lacrosse player.
But happenstance – or something more – sent the Mirgon family to Charlotte, where a friend suggested Kathleen try a new sport.
“I was like, ‘Heck no, oh my gosh, no way,’ ” Mirgon said. “I had tried other sports, and I was so uncoordinated. I didn’t think I’d be any good at it.”
But her friend’s father was Jim McCormick, who had for several years coached a nationally ranked Garden City, N.J., high school lacrosse team, and he was persistent in recruiting Kathleen and her father, Jeff Mirgon, to the sport.
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“He got us out there, and she was good at it. This was the first ball sport she’s been good at,” said Jeff Mirgon, who learned the sport under McCormick’s tutelage and is now coach for the Chapin Eagles.
It was not until the family moved to Chapin — a selection made for the education as well as the availability of a lacrosse team — that Mirgon realized what she could do.
“When I was in Charlotte, I was not really very good, but when we came to Chapin, the team wasn’t as good as we are now, and I was one of the best players,” Mirgon said. “As my confidence went up, my play improved.”
For her father-coach, “it has been amazing” to watch Kathleen develop and excel at the sport they learned together.
She was a sophomore when “it just clicked for me that I could do something with this.”
Now, the senior midfielder has accepted a scholarship to play lacrosse at Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University.
Two weeks ago, Mirgon reached two milestones in one game — she notched her 200th career goal and her 500th ground ball (like recovering a fumble).
She had six goals and nine ground balls in the Eagles’ first-round playoff win against Hilton Head on Wednesday, and now has 220 goals and 533 ground balls. The Eagles believe Mirgon’s ground ball total is the highest in the state, although according to associate commissioner Nessie Harris, the S.C. High School League has not started keeping statistical records for lacrosse.
But Jeff Mirgon searched through all the posted statistics he could find for South Carolina lacrosse since the sport was sanctioned by the SCHSL in 2010. And according to the records the coach searched, J.L. Mann alumna Megan Lovine’s 220 is the state’s high mark for career goals.
Averaging six goals per game, Mirgon is likely to surpass that mark on Thursday, when the Eagles face Wando on the road in the second round.
Kathleen Mirgon is excited to be at the top of a field on which she once believed she did not belong.
“Lacrosse is something I can be extraordinary at. Lacrosse is what I want to be known for,” she said.