LAKEWOOD RANCH — Kimmy Comito wasn’t in the right frame of mind.
The then Out-of-Door Academy eighth-grader appeared lost and somewhat unsure of herself as she maneuvered up and down the field as a first-time lacrosse player.
But a few games into the season, Comito quickly discovered her natural athleticism was her biggest asset.
Using her speed to her advantage, Comito would run from one end of the field to the other without pausing long enough to let her opponents knock the ball out from her stick.
“That’s such an advantage,” Comito says. “I have great athleticism all around, and I had a lot of fun darting down the field and nobody could stop me unless I dropped the ball. I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool.’ That’s when I really started to like it.”
Comito has been ODA’s leading scorer each of the last two seasons and has helped lead the Lady Thunder to a 5-1 record so far this season.
Comito scored 55 goals last season and has 33 goals and 12 assists through the first six games of the season. She leads the state in goals and points (45), according to MaxPreps, and is 19th and 12th in the nation, respectively, in those same categories.
“We’ve had a lot of success,” Comito says. “The team has just progressed such an immense amount. Some of the younger girls just blow my mind with how quickly they’re picking it up and getting a grasp of the game.
“I’m not just relying on myself this year,” Comito says. “I have a lot of trust in my teammates. I’m enjoying it so much. I love seeing everyone grow, and seeing the team succeed as a whole makes the season enjoyable.”
Finding her nitch
Comito began playing lacrosse after her mom, Christy, who also serves as her lacrosse coach, encouraged her to pick up a spring sport.
Comito had briefly picked up a lacrosse stick when she was 10 years old and knew some of the girls who were going out for the team. Comito decided to follow suit. She joined a combined team between the Manasota Lacrosse Club and ODA.
Comito played there for a year before ODA started its own team her freshman year.
“It was something new, and I picked it up pretty easily,” Comito says. “I (gradually) started getting better, and I knew I was going to enjoy it a lot.”
During one of her freshman practices, former ODA coach Amy Whittington commented on the progress Comito was making and that she had the potential to play lacrosse at the next level.
Comito, who had her heart set on playing college soccer at the time, did not think much about it. But that summer, the Lax Maniax were offering a free tryout, and Comito decided to go out for the team.
“Everyone was so good, and I said, ‘I probably won’t even make it,’” Comito says. “But, I did it anyway.”
Comito made the lowest team for her age group, and she made it a point to improve her understanding of the game and improve her skillset.
At the beginning of her sophomore year, Comito learned Lax Maniax had an elite travel team called Team Florida Girls. Comito tried out; her lacrosse career began to take shape.
“I was so excited,” Comito says of making Team Florida Girls. “I was a little behind the other girls because they had been playing with each other for a while. I could see by the time I started my high school season the amount I had learned about the game.
“I fell in love,” Comito says. “I started understanding how the game works. My play (elevated), and it just kicked off from there.”
Last fall, Comito began the initial stages of the recruiting process — contacting college coaches.
As a sophomore, Comito scored 55 goals in 10 games, including a new school record nine goals against Sarasota Military Academy.
Comito spent the summer traveling with the Maniax and doing wall ball workouts to improve her stick skills. Comito also has focused her attention on shot selection, opting to take harder shots from farther away as opposed to running right up to the goalie and scoring an easy shot.
“At the beginning of the season, I told myself I wanted to be able to shoot the ball so hard that it (automatically) goes to the back of the net.
“In club and college, you can’t run through a bunch of people,” Comito says. “You have to take more strategic shots that are harder because the defenses are (better). I’ve enjoyed perfecting my shot.”
Comito’s hard work already has paid off this season. She’s scored five or more goals in four of the Lady Thunder’s six games this season. With six games left in the regular season, Comito has helped position ODA to contend for the District 16 title when the district tournament begins April 14.
Now, Comito looks to put together her most successful season on the field — one she hopes will end with a scholarship offer. Comito is looking at several schools and is hoping to make a verbal commitment by the end of her junior year.
“It would mean everything to me,” Comito says of playing college lacrosse. “I’ve been working so hard since I started playing club. This is all I want to do. I’ve put so much time into it with recreational camps and travel, so it’s really great to see it pay off and achieve my goal of playing in college.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Comito says. “I’ve seen firsthand the experience of being a (college) lacrosse player, and it (looks) really cool. At this point, I don’t see myself going to college and not playing. It’s almost not an option at this point.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].