Published: May 1, 2013 Updated: 4:56 p.m.
Breana Cervantes had grown up loving the game of basketball.
She first stepped onto the court in the fourth grade and played all the way up to her junior year at Rosary High.
So when she chose not to lace it up her senior season, it was one of the more upsetting decisions she'd ever made.
"It was very difficult for me," Cervantes recalled. "But considering the workload I was taking on with school – I was planning to take five AP classes – it would have been a lot easier for me as a student-athlete to focus on just one sport."
That one sport was lacrosse.
Even Cervantes admits it was strange trading in her basketball shoes for a pair of cleats and a lacrosse stick. It's not like she had grown up playing lacrosse. In fact, she hadn't even heard of it before Rosary's introduction of the sport her sophomore year.
"It was all new to me," she said. "I didn't know any of the rules, but it was the down time when basketball ended. I wasn't really doing anything, so I thought I might as well just go out for this new sport. It would keep me in shape, and I wanted to keep myself active."
So at the conclusion of her sophomore basketball season, Cervantes made her way over to join the newly formed lacrosse team.
While she was more than familiar with the rules and concepts of basketball, Cervantes was overwhelmed by this foreign game.
"It was really hard at first, stopping and going on the whistle," she said. "I was so used to basketball and just walking through it. I had to start from the beginning."
While learning the ins and outs of the game was a process, Cervantes slowly began to appreciate the sport.
She sought help to improve her skills – practicing her stick work outside of practice, studying the rules online and even going on YouTube to watch lacrosse clips to familiarize herself and pick up new moves.
"The first year was the adjustment year," Cervantes said. "The second year when I came back, it was a lot easier. I felt like I had learned all of the rules and I adjusted."
As a junior, Cervantes continued to play basketball at Rosary, but she also refined her skills on the lacrosse field. In addition to playing for the Royals, Cervantes joined the SoCal Edge Lacrosse Club, a travel team.
"The competition was a lot higher," she said. "It was different to play with girls who had been playing for a long time."
But Cervantes stepped up to the challenge, and during a club tournament in Vail, Colo., last summer, performed better than expected.
She continued to put together impressive game tape over the summer, and ultimately decided to post it onto a recruiting website.
It was not long after that Cervantes was contacted by Ed Karasek the lacrosse coach of Ursuline College – a Division II school located outside of Cleveland.
"I was very surprised when I got that first email," Cervantes admitted. "I said, 'Maybe I can pursue this.' (Karasek) emailed me and said he was interested in me playing on his team, and he wanted me to check out the school. So I visited over spring break."
Two weeks ago, Cervantes officially signed with Ursuline, receiving a scholarship, and became the first Rosary lacrosse player to commit to play college lacrosse. It was an unexpected end to an unlikely journey. But all Cervantes knows is that she's happy she decided to walk into that first lacrosse meeting.
"Had I not gone and decided to do something over the spring, I wouldn't be here right now," she said. "I just fell in love with the sport."
Photo courtesy of Reinbold Gallery
Source: KENNY CONNOLLY / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER