Lexington County lacrosse talent claims handful of U.S. awards

Posted 7/3/24

The past year has been full of accomplishments for local lacrosse coach Raven Thomas.

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Lexington County lacrosse talent claims handful of U.S. awards


The past year has been full of accomplishments for local lacrosse coach Raven Thomas.

Thomas is fresh off a state champion at Chapin High School and runs one of the best club teams in the region called Rapids. For her efforts, she was given one of the highest coaching honors in the country by being selected as the USA Lacrosse Coach of the Year.

“It meant more than I can put into words really,” Thomas said. “That’s the highest honor that I’ve received, and kind of the highest honor that any high school lacrosse coach can get. So, to receive that really capped off the best season that I’ve had.”

Thomas wasn’t the only one from the area to receive national recognition. Many of her players from Chapin and Rapids brought home awards as well.

Chapin star Ava-Claire Collins won the state title with Thomas in 2024. She also plays for Thomas at Rapids and just earned her second consecutive U.S. All-American team.

“Ava-Claire Collins is the star of the state right now,” Thomas said. “It was much deserved this year with her being the South Carolina Player of the Year, and she’s literally the most humble person you will ever meet. So, she probably would say that she was caught off guard, and she didn’t deserve it. But everybody knows she’s the most deserving of that award.”

Morgan Siglin is from Greenville but commutes to the Midlands to play for Rapids. She played high school ball last season at Wade Hampton and put up crazy numbers, sitting in the top three of the entire nation in goals and points, according to Max Preps.

She also earned All-American honors.

“She led her team with more goals than most teams in the state make combined,” Thomas said. “That was just in her individual effort, so she’s an all-star. I know that’s something that she’s been working towards her whole high school career.”

Katie Westbrook out of River Bluff is another player for Rapids who earned a national honor. Westbrook was named to the Academic All-American team for her effort on the field and in the classroom.

“This is her second year in a row getting the academic All-American,” Thomas said. “You essentially have to be a productive lacrosse player within your team, and then, be exceptionally smart. And Katie is exactly that. She’s going into pre-law, and she’s playing at Gardner Webb next year.”

Finally, Chapin goalie Dokota Cheek won the Jackie Pitts Award. This award recognizes one senior player who goes above and beyond in service to her team, school and community. They have to invest in the development of the game and exemplify the fundamentals of lacrosse.

“That’s probably the one that I’m most excited about because the Jackie Pitts Award is huge,” Thomas said. “It’s one of the most prestigious awards you can get, and the qualifications for it are quite lengthy. So, there’s not a lot of people that are even able to be nominated for that award. But to see her win it, she’s one of the most deserving individuals because she’s such a leader.”

With four local players taking home honors, Thomas pointed out how much the game has changed in the area in recent years. When she was an athlete at Dutch Fork, she couldn’t imagine players earning this kind of recognition.

“If you would have told me 10 years ago when I was in high school and just starting out lacrosse, that I’d be a part of the programs that I am now or that I’d be coaching girls who are receiving these awards, I would have told you you were crazy because it just seemed so far out of reach,” Thomas said.

Thomas is proud of the way lacrosse has grown. After playing at Erskine College, she returned home to coach where she has become a key figure in the game’s growth.

She was coaching club before getting an offer to be an assistant at Dutch Fork. Soon after, the Chapin job opened and the rest was history.

“I love coaching because it allows me to prioritize relationships and form relationships with girls of all ages and be influential in their lives in a positive way,” Thomas said. “I  know that I’m directly making a difference, which is always what I’ve wanted to get out of life.”

Thomas hopes the game will continue to grow in the Midlands. She said with a little hard work and dedication, younger players in South Carolina are now in a position to be recognized for their success. The same thing could not be said 10 years ago.

“You can’t dream too big because anything is possible,” Thomas said. “All of the girls who have won these awards, they’re doing it because they’re passionate about it. That’s what allowed them to be successful. So I would recommend to younger players, find your passion in it, make sure it stays fun but put in the work, and the sky’s the limit.”

Chapin lacrosse, Rapids lacrosse, Raven Thomas, Ava-Claire Collins, Morgan Siglin, Katie Westbrook, Dokota Cheek


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