If Baileigh Kimball has learned anything since graduating from The Governor's Academy in 2007, it's to keep an open mind.
Prior to her enrollment in the U.S. Naval Academy, soccer was Kimball's life. She spent eight consecutive years playing club ball with the Seacoast United Soccer Club, and despite being a three-sport athlete at Governor's — she played varsity basketball all four years and lacrosse for two years — the Rye, N.H., native always considered soccer her top sport.
During Plebe summer, a demanding boot camp-style orientation that begins four years of preparation of midshipmen for commissioning as naval officers, Kimball tried out for the Navy soccer team.
Unfortunately, that year's recruiting class proved too deep, and her try-out fell short.
Initially dismayed by not making the team, a friend in Kimball's company suggested she try her luck with lacrosse.
Lacrosse, akin to soccer and basketball, had always been a staple of Kimball's athletic life. She began playing lacrosse in the third grade during the first year that the Rye Recreation Department offered the sport.
It was so new, Kimball recalled, that she was forced to use a boy's stick.
Her friend's encouragement was helpful, and though she'd be rusty and nervous, Kimball gave it a shot. She e-mailed head coach Cindy Timchal and was promptly invited to fall try-outs.
Totally ill-equipped, Kimball asked her mom to bring her lacrosse stick during Plebe Parents Weekend.
On a field with some of the nation's best lacrosse players, Kimball, self-proclaimed as "not too fast or too skilled," gave it her all and made the squad as a walk-on freshman.
"Not making the soccer team turned out to be a blessing in disguise," Kimball said.