Kaitlyn Bellanca, a rising senior at Spain Park, and Alexandra Burst, a 2022 Hoover graduate, at the Hoover Central Sports Park on June 15. Bellanca has verbally committed to play Division I lacrosse at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina and Burst is attending Longwood University in Virginia this fall on a Division I lacrosse scholarship.
When they first started playing lacrosse in the fourth and fifth grades, Hoover teenagers Alexandra Burst and Kaitlyn Bellanca immediately fell in love with the game.
They met when they played together in middle school and noticed they both had a stronger passion for lacrosse than the other girls on the team, which the pair believes is still the case today.
After practicing together for several years with the goal of playing at Division I schools in college, Burst, a recent Hoover High School graduate, and Bellanca, a rising senior at Spain Park High School, are both set to achieve that goal.
Burst signed to play lacrosse at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, and Bellanca verbally committed to play at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, after she graduates from Spain Park next year.
Burst and Bellanca are both the first female lacrosse athletes from their respective schools to play lacrosse at a D1 college, they said.
Burst was recruited by Longwood University after playing with the Georgia Peaches, a lacrosse travel team that plays in tournaments and participates in showcases, for three summers, she said.
Because the team was in Georgia, she said, the coach allowed her to play in games and participate in showcases whenever she wanted.
“It feels really nice.” Burst said. “I worked so hard for it and I also want to inspire the younger people and the girls coming from middle school. It feels nice to be sort of a trailblazer in the sport.”
“I’m excited to play at a different level,” Bellanca said. “Me and Alexandra traveled up to North Carolina to watch our teams play each other, and just them warming up and seeing how much fun and excitement they had just to be out on that field is just so different from here. Here it’s kind of, ‘I’m here because I signed up for it.”
Burst started playing lacrosse after her sister played the sport at a camp. Her sister realized she didn’t like it, but Burst found the sport interesting, she said.
“My dad encouraged me to try it for a year, and I just immediately fell in love with it and started playing,” Burst said.
Bellanca shares a similar starting story with Burst. She danced and did gymnastics when she was younger but later decided she wanted to play a running and contact sport, she said.
“My dad played lacrosse for a small college and he kind of introduced me to it, so I just started from there.” Bellanca said.
They both said they love the speed and intensity of the game.
“I love how fast things can happen,” Bellanca said. “I love how you can be down by 10 and still win the game. I think that’s super cool. I also like the intensity of it as well, how you’re getting hit one second but then scoring the next second. It’s a big adrenaline rush.”
Burst and Bellanca said because the resources for girls lacrosse players to practice are hard to find and their travel teams are in different states, they’ve relied on each other’s passion for the game since they were in middle school.
“We’re the ones that want to watch all the college games on TV,” Burst said. “We’ll go over to each other’s houses and watch them all the time. We’re always texting each other, “Hey, do you want to go practice?’ We’ll go to the gym together. We’ve grown as players together throughout the years.”