MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Ava Jennings, a junior at Mahopac High School, has been playing lacrosse ever since she was in first grade. Now, she is taking her game all the way the University of Cincinnati, having recently signed a letter of intent to play and go to school there.

Jennings’ sister, Taylor, has been one of her biggest inspirations. Taylor was by her side the entire process and gave her confidence.

“I am very blessed to have a sister like Taylor who has shown me nothing but love and support, not only as a player, but a sister as well,” Jennings said.

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Being small in stature has had its challenges for Jennings throughout her lacrosse career,

“It was definitely very tough during the recruiting process hearing coaches tell me I was too small, but I did not let that stop me from pursuing my dream of playing college lacrosse,” she said.

She may be small in size, but her heart and desire outweigh her opponents. Ending up at the University of Cincinnati is testimony to that.

“Words can’t even describe how happy, excited, and truly grateful I am,” she said of the signing. “It felt like a dream come true. Knowing that there was a school out there like Cincinnati that saw a lot in me as a player, it really is the best feeling. I fell in love with the school and I couldn’t be happier to be a Bearcat. The coaching staff and the team are absolutely amazing, and I wouldn’t want to go to school anywhere else.”

Jennings plays midfield and attack. She was selected for many achievements along her lacross journey; WPLL Futures pick; Elite 12 player at the E12 Showcase/All Star team at the NXT Nike Philly Showcase; Nike Elite 120 Showcase; and the All Star team at the girls Long Island showcase. She joined the varsity as a freshman.

“We are very excited about Ava committing to play lacrosse at Cincinnati,” said her coach, Jim Lieto. “She is a fantastic lacrosse player. She made the varsity team her freshman year and was an immediate contributor. She has had 12 goals, 3 assists, and 21 ground balls. Ava scored a huge goal in our win against Mamaroneck. She scored with two minutes left that sent the game to overtime. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to play last year, but we are looking forward to Ava’s Junior and Senior seasons. Ava works really hard and she is a leader on the team. She was voted captain this year by her teammates.”

When her playing days are over, Jennings said she would love to stay in he game as a coach.

“One thing I would definitely love to do after I graduate is become a D1 lacrosse coach. Growing up, my father was my lacrosse coach throughout my entire youth,” she said. “I have always admired him for being an example to young athletes within the Mahopac lacrosse community.”

She would love to inspire young girls like herself who love the game as much as she does.

“Without my mom, I would not be where I am today,” she said. “The endless love and support she gave me, as well as doing so much for me throughout the entire recruiting process.”

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of being a Division 1 lacrosse player, and now knowing that I have accomplished my dream,” she added. “I am proud of where I have come today with this sport, and I will forever be grateful for my family and friends who were by my side throughout this whole process.”

Jennings started in the sport early; she was a member of the Snipers program since she was in 6th grade, which she said greatly helped her during the recruiting process.

“I would also like to say a huge thank you to the Snipers Elite Lacrosse coaching staff—Michelle Mason, Abi Jackson, Cat Conway, Steph Sumczik, Alexis Dido, and Rachel Zurheide,” she said.“My next shoutout goes to Jack Kensil. Jack has been my lacrosse trainer for over three years now and has helped me build my lacrosse skills and character. He has always taught me to be the best you, you can be. The first time he ever said this to me was about three years ago, and I still carry it with me to this day.”

Jennings has known her coach, Jim Lieto, since she was in first grade. He allowed her to play varsity when she was just a freshman.

“Working with girls above my playing level at the time pushed me to prove myself, and to become not just as good, but better,” she said.