Former Milford lacrosse standout, Clay Stevenson, is preparing for his second year of college this fall at Methodist University after a freshman campaign that saw some playing time between the pipes -- while also showing promise in the classroom studying biology.
While some student athletes stay close to home for college, Stevenson decided on the green and gold of Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C.
“I think I’ve adjusted pretty well to college life,” Stevenson said. “I was ready to get out on my own and live life on my own after high school.”
Along with the pressures of succeeding at academics, Stevenson worked hard to earn a spot with the lacrosse team last season.
In some programs, the jump from high school athletics to college isn’t that steep. However, in Stevenson’s case he noticed the differences immediately while playing in the Division III USA South Athletic Conference.
“The real big difference is the overall skill level and the speed of the game,” Stevenson said. “I remember the jump from youth to high school was pretty significant, but from high school to college was ridiculous, the overall skill level is an insane jump.”
Stevenson also picked up on the attitude change.
“One of the more fun things is how much everyone cares,” said Stevenson. “In high school you might have some kids that don’t really want to be there, but in college, they all want to play.”
Last season, Stevenson saw action in goal in eight games, including a seven-save performance against the defending back-to-back DIII national champion, Salisbury University, in his first collegiate game ever.
Stevenson looks back on last year’s experience fondly.
“My first game, against the defending national champions, what else could you dream of?” Stevenson said. “Playing as a freshman against a dynasty of a team was an experience, even if I did learn quite a few things in that game.”
Stevenson has already set goals for his sophomore season.
“This year, my goal is to earn the spot of starter,” Stevenson said. “I earned it last year, but kind of dwindled during the season.”
Despite last year’s entire squad coming back, including all of the team’s goalies from the 2016-2017 season, Stevenson says he and his other net-minding teammates are all behind one another.
“We get along better than any group on the team,” Stevenson said. “We’re all good friends and we get along really well. Of course, there’s competition, but it’s not cutthroat, it’s all for the better of the team.”
While Stevenson may not have played on the field as much as he would have liked, he starred in the classroom, being named an Academic All-Conference honoree after posting a 3.2 GPA at Methodist.