Teammates and friends, these Lake Mary High athletes are celebrating an amazing honor together
Charlee Nyquist admits she became obsessed with lacrosse back in 2017 when she was a sixth-grader at Markham Woods Middle School. Besides playing and practicing with her travel team, whenever she had some free time, Charlee loved to watch lacrosse videos on the internet.
That’s how she found out about the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse games. Watching highlight clips and full games online, Charlee decided that making that All-America team – for high-school-age players – would be her goal. She even created a vision board to keep her motivated.
“I always had the mindset that I can do whatever anyone else can do – as long as I work hard at it,” Charlee says, “and I just pushed myself.”
Two years later, Charlee’s focus and determination has turned her vision into a remarkable reality. Charlee and her friend Caden Harshbarger, both of Lake Mary, were named to Under Armour’s All-America South Command team (made up of rising high-school freshmen and sophomores). The two, who just started their freshman year at Lake Mary High School, are the only athletes from Seminole County to make the All-America South teams, which are made up mostly of sophomores from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Charlee and Caden, both 14 years old, were selected to the All-America teams after taking part in tryouts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton this past July. After participating in grueling drills and scrimmages for more than five hours, they were among just 23 players chosen out of hundreds who tried out. The South boys’ and girls’ teams were scheduled to play in an Under Armour All-America tournament in Baltimore in early August.
“It’s a pretty unique deal for two classmates from the same middle school to make these teams,” says Eric Nyquist, Charlee’s proud father. “As rising freshmen playing with and against experienced older players, that’s a pretty neat thing.”
Both Charlee and Caden have impressed their parents with their athletic achievements and work ethic since they were little kids, and they are both also straight-A students. Charlee was a competitive surfer who also played youth soccer, volleyball, and flag football. When she was in second grade at Heathrow Elementary School, Charlee started playing Pop Warner football in what would be her first of eight seasons playing boys’ tackle football. Charlee was even featured in Sports Illustrated magazine’s “Special Report: Football in America” issue in the fall of 2016 when she was 10 years old. She was interviewed after a standout performance with her all-boys Pop Warner team at halftime of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos. That same year, Charlee received first-team All-American Scholar honors.
Both Charlee, a defensive back, and Caden, a quarterback, plan to play on Lake Mary High’s freshman football team this fall.
“We’re both definitely competitive athletes,” Charlee says. “We want to be the best at our sport.”
Caden began riding a bicycle without training wheels when he was just two years old. He played flag football and basketball when he was younger and started playing lacrosse in second grade.
“I wanted to play tackle football, but my mom wouldn’t let me,” Caden says. “She said I could play lacrosse because she thought there was less contact than in football. The more I played lacrosse, the more I started to like it.”
Some friends got Charlee interested in joining a recreational lacrosse league when she was in the fourth grade.
“In my first game,” Charlee recalls, “I got the ball, ran down the whole entire field and scored my first goal. I said, ‘This is really fun. I should play lacrosse!’ Since then, I’ve been very lucky to have had great coaches and teammates who’ve helped make it a lot of fun.”
While Charlee, at a slender 5-foot, 3-inches and 105 pounds, will likely stop playing football after her freshman year, Caden, who is 5-9, hopes to play football and lacrosse for as long as possible. When Caden first started playing Pop Warner football in sixth grade, he and Charlee were teammates on a team coached by their fathers. They also played on some of the same boys’ basketball teams.
“He’s always been a gifted athlete and student,” says Bryan Harshbarger, Caden’s dad. “He’s also a good kid with a caring heart. Even though this is a huge honor, I’m even more proud of the person he is. He’s a blessing.”
Both dads marvel at their children’s drive and motivation. Charlee and Caden spend countless hours practicing lacrosse on their own, and all that hard work has certainly paid off.
“Charlee truly loves lacrosse,” Eric says. “She takes 200 shots a day [against the wall and at the goal in the family’s backyard], and I think Caden does the same. I’m incredibly proud of Charlee and her dedication and drive to be the best she can be. And, now, to have the opportunity to play against the best players in the country, it’s a really cool deal. We couldn’t be more proud of her and Caden.”
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