PHOTO BY JOSH ROTTMAN

Caitlyn Wurzburger has topped 100 goals AND 100 assists in each of her first three high school lacrosse seasons. Last year, she led American Heritage to a Florida state championship.

Caitlyn Wurzburger Has the Wow Factor


As first glance, the Wurzburger home looks a lot like the others in the tropical town of Delray Beach, Fla.

Palm trees stretch beyond the reach of the round tile roof. Red flowers accent the well-manicured gardens. A brick driveway cuts into the landscape, showing you the way to the four-bedroom ranch that resides just two miles west of the Atlantic Ocean.

The house stands out not so much for its coastal charm as it does the white spray paint on its freshly cut Bermuda grass.

“We painted a crease in our front yard,” says Caitlyn Wurzburger, the most highly touted lacrosse player ever to come out of the state of Florida. “You can tell which yard is ours.”

Wurzburger, whose father, Rob, grew up in Central New York and starred at Maryland in the early 1990s, has practiced shooting here since she first picked up a lacrosse stick at age 5. Luckily, the house is hurricane-proof. 

“My mom loves this,” Wurzburger says. “I’ve hit a window.”


“I’m giving everything I’ve got. I’m not done. Not even close.” — Caitlyn Wurzburger


Lacrosse runs in Wurzburger’s blood. Her father introduced her to the sport. Her uncle, John, also played for the legendary Mike Messere at West Genesee (N.Y.) and was a two-time All-American at Cornell. Rob Wurzburger, the younger of the brothers, still ranks among Maryland’s all-time leaders with 137 career goals.

But it was his daughter’s passion that led to many more pipe shots to perfect her craft. 

“I’m a firm believer when kids are young, you’ve got to give them direction and you’ve got to push them,” Rob Wurzburger says. “But that transition came in fifth grade. ‘OK, Dad, let’s go out and shoot.’ It became her asking me. You passed the baton. You were pushing and now they’re pushing.”

Rob Wurzburger is an assistant coach for both of his daughter’s teams — the nationally ranked American Heritage School and Florida Select. He’ll remind Caitlyn, who was the youngest recruit in girls’ lacrosse history when she committed to Syracuse as an eighth-grader in 2016, and her teammates of a quote he first saw taped above the bed of a young boy battling cancer at the Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., when Rob was still playing in College Park.

It read, “When I am done getting better, I am done.”

“For him, that sign meant if he doesn’t get better, he dies,” Rob Wurzburger says. “It was an eye-opener to me as an 18-year-old. You’re not that hot. You’re not that good. I share that with the kids I coach and with Caitlyn. If you’re done getting better at lacrosse, then go find something else.”

That story still resonates with Caitlyn Wurzburger, who switched her commitment to North Carolina and is one of just three players in the class of 2020 still vying for a spot on the U.S. under-19 women’s national team.

“I’m giving everything I’ve got,” she says. “I’m not done. Not even close.”








At age 8, Wurzburger dove head first into intense training with Darin Jerome of FTX Sports Performance. Twice a week, she wakes up at 5 a.m. for workouts before school, after which she texts American Heritage and Florida Select head coach John McClain with updates on her progress. 

“In this day and age, kids are out partying,” says McClain, who called Wurzburger’s character flawless. “She’ll run five miles in a day. She did a 5:45 mile for cardio training. Only a few can do that in college on the boys’ side.”

Wurzburger studies her own film, but also clips of U.S. senior team stars like Taylor Cummings, Katrina Dowd, Kayla Treanor and Michelle Tumolo, taking cues from their grit and creativity. She runs cross-country in the fall and plays club lacrosse year-round. She also plays wall ball every day, finding a permanent home for her rebounder in the driveway. 

“She’s a very goal-driven kid,” Rob Wurzburger says. “That’s pretty much her life. My wife [Leslie] and I laugh when we go to travel tournaments. She’s the first one to unpack her suitcase.”

Home uniform in one pile, away in another. 

By the time she was in seventh grade, Wurzburger had already been named captain of an American Heritage team that had yet to go varsity. The Stallions’ rise has coincided with that of their star player. American Heritage won the FHSAA championship in just its third year of eligibility last spring. The Stallions finished 23-1, its lone loss coming against national power Bishop Ireton (Va.), and ranked No. 5 in the Nike/US Lacrosse High School Girls’ National Top 25.

Wurzburger had a whopping 221 points, eclipsing the century mark in both goals and assists for the third straight year. She’ll rewrite the national high school record book by the time she graduates in 2020.

“For my coach, it doesn’t matter the age that’s on the field,” Wurzburger says. “It’s the talent and your personality and attitude you bring to the team every day.”

“There was a college coach who sent me an email [saying] Caitlyn is probably the best 2018 in the country,” McClain says. “Meanwhile she’s a 2020. She is that outlier, that anomaly. I’ve been using that with the Sun Sentinel for years. I try to stay away from that word, but it’s so true. She’s going to be one of the great ones. All things are lining up.”




PHOTO BY CASEY VALENTINE

Caitlyn Wurzburger playing for the U.S. Women's U19 team against England earlier this year at the Spring Premiere. Wurzburger is one of the youngest players vying for a spot on the U.S. team that will play in the world championship in Canada this summer.


Wurzburger, named the No. 1 recruit in her class by Inside Lacrosse, personally called Syracuse coach Gary Gait to inform him of her decision to reopen her recruitment. Her commitment in 2016 came before the NCAA’s April 2017 passage of lacrosse-specific recruiting legislation eliminating contact with prospects before Sept. 1 of their junior year.

“You know how hard of a call that was for a child of her age? Think about that,” McClain says. “The maturity, the confidence to get on the phone with one of the greatest coaches in the women’s game and probably the best men’s lacrosse player to ever play the game.”

Wurzburger considered Boston College, Maryland and North Carolina before informing Tar Heels coach Jenny Levy — also the head coach of the U.S. women’s senior team — of her decision to take her talents to Chapel Hill.

“It’s great to have such a great energy from her and passion for the game,” Wurzburger says. “I really do believe we have a similar connection. Coach Levy does so much for the sport. Whenever I talk to her, she tells me what she’s doing trying to spread it and maybe eventually get it to the Olympics. It’s taking those big steps.”

On a smaller scale, Wurzburger hopes to do the same for lacrosse in Florida. When she and her dad play catch at the local park where the Delray Rocks youth football team practices, one of the boys always comes over to say hi and ask about a sport that she has known for her entire life.

“It’s a special moment when a kid doesn’t even know what the sport is and starts to really get into it,” she says. “To have that grow, it’s such an easy thing. Just put that stick in their hands.”

In January 2012, current U.S. U19 coach Kelly Amonte Hiller did just that for Wurzburger.

Amonte Hiller’s Northwestern team, then the reigning NCAA champion, was competing against Team USA in the Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. 

When Rob Wurzburger and McClain brought their daughters, Caitlyn and Taylor, to watch the Wildcats practice, Amonte Hiller, a three-time U.S. World Cup team player, immediately walked over to say hello and welcomed the girls to play catch with them. 

“Here’s America’s great player. She gets it,” Rob Wurzburger says. “That’s a lasting impression. [Now] she’s coaching USA and Caitlyn’s on the training team. Obviously, they’ve both done a tremendous job continuing their careers as a player and as a coach.”

When Wurzburger showed up for U.S. U19 team tryouts at US Lacrosse last August in Sparks, Md., Amonte Hiller saw the same resolve that has tested the durability of those hurricane-proof windows in Delray Beach. 

“It [was] written all over her face: ‘I’m making this team,’” Amonte Hiller says. “She really established her spot on that first cut right off the bat. It was like, ‘Wow.”

Wurzburger wows everyone who watches.

“She’s definitely an icon,” McClain says, before walking back his comment. “I guess that’s too big of a word? [She’s] probably that icon for Florida lacrosse.”

“Ten years from now,” McClain continues, “Caitlyn will be 26 years old, and she’ll be in the prime of physicality. This kid might be on that Olympic team when you start thinking about it. She’ll be an Olympian. There’s not even a hesitation in my inner soul here that the kid’s going to make it.”

McClain pauses and chuckles.

“You almost don’t want to talk about it, because you don’t want to jinx it.”