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JMU lacrosse's junior midfielder Kelsey Reed looks to make a pass against UVA.

An alarm clock goes off at 4:15 a.m. in a San Diego apartment, and JMU lacrosse’s Kelsey Reed wakes up. She gets herself ready, heads out the door and makes her way to Scripps Ranch Boulevard before the sun comes up.

Reed’s summer internship at Fitness Quest 10 — an organization built around physical and mental training and rehabilitation — doesn’t start for another couple of hours. But despite the long hours ahead, she opts to join a handful of individuals for an intense 5 a.m. workout session to kick off her day.

“I was training pretty much every day,” Reed said. “Just being in that atmosphere and being around people who are constantly getting better and making other people better … [It] made me just want to get better every day.”

Reed and about 10 other interns spent their days taking on a wide assortment of tasks, from shadowing other trainers and writing fitness programs to running camps for kids at the facility. 

While the experience was rewarding in itself for the kinesiology major, it also gave her over 2,500 miles of separation from JMU and some time to reassess her role on the team. After playing in 13 of JMU’s first 16 matches, Reed’s role coming off the bench diminished, which kept her off the field for the final four games of the NCAA tournament.

“It’s always hard being on the bench,” Reed said. “We really focus here at JMU on everyone having a role and the idea that everyone matters, so at practice I really did my best to prepare our starters for the upcoming games. Kind of just taking the positives out of it instead of the negatives was really huge for me.”

Not giving up on her ambitions and potential contributions to the team, Reed went to work. Squeezing in the extra workouts and finding time to work on her stick skills — all while balancing her daily responsibilities — the junior midfielder saw massive improvements by the end of the summer. She felt faster, stronger and, most importantly, more confident in her capabilities — and she wasn’t alone.

Those who spent their summers around her noticed the sizeable strides she made along the way. Jeff Bristol, the current general manager at Fitness Quest 10, led those early workouts on top of overseeing her work. He admired Reed’s punctuality and persistence to improve in her time away from school, since the summer can sometimes have negative effects on the development of student athletes.

“The summer can be a very loosely structured thing for a lot of college athletes,” Bristol said. “For Kelsey, flying across the country, getting away from home and working full-time in addition to training hard on a regular training schedule probably set herself apart from other student athletes.”

Reed made her way back to Harrisonburg at the end of the summer and wasn‘t ready to let her new habits die off. Her physical improvements and faith in her talents pushed her to work even harder and, this time, it was her coaches and teammates that got to observe the transformational talent.

Not wanting to keep the lessons she learned to herself, Reed led by example and rallied the team around a commonly promoted culture. Seeing her relentless effort and willingness to help others out started to create a buzz around the locker room.

“Kelsey’s a workhorse,” junior attacker Logan Brennan said. “Any day, no matter how she’s feeling, she’s going to be the hardest worker on the field. I think that got everybody to really trust her and back her up. The fact that she can show that on the field really made everyone else want to work hard and I think that’s where a lot of it really came from.”

In short time, the rotational player from a year ago was named one of four team captains for the 2019 season. After finishing last year riding the bench, Reed has rarely been off the field and started all but one contest. She’s among the team leaders in caused turnovers (10) and draw controls (18), and is the only player on the team with double-digit points, ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers.

“She’s just setting the tone for our program on what it looks like to be a leader,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “She’s just a great role model for the team right now and so I think a lot of people look up to her because she’s doing it. She’s actually doing the work.”

Not only has her play inspired her coaches and teammates, she’s quietly made a small fan club back out west.

“I’m just really proud of her,” Bristol said. “Kelsey’s like that quiet, hard-working type that will come in with no drama and just put her nose into the grindstone. To just see her come out of her shell, it’s cool to see how far she’s come along.”

It took a mix of patience, persistence and the right opportunity, but Kelsey Reed is finally making the impact she wants on JMU lacrosse. Even after all the hard work she’s done, she’s hardly done yet. Reed won’t be satisfied until she’s impacted the entire locker room with her work ethic.

“Working for your teammates is contagious,” Reed said. “If you work for them, they’ll work for you, and it’ll make everyone better because of it.”

Contact Blake Pace at breezesports@gmail.com. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.