Kelsey Klein, Lax/Rutgers — EcoAthletes (2024)

“I come from a big lacrosse-playing area,” offered the Gladstone, New Jersey native. “I started going to college clinics in 7th, 8th grade. In high school, I played both with my school team and with a club to get visibility for college recruiting. It was intense for sure, but also an exciting opportunity. As I got better and more confident in high school, the recruiting experience was one I treasure.”

While she considered six schools, Rutgers stood out, although not at the jump.

“I was unsure about Rutgers at first,” Klein acknowledged. “Being that it was the state university of New Jersey, there was a bit of a stigma around it in-state. But, when I went for my first visit, I loved its ‘Big School’ feel and adored the coaching staff. Then on my second visit, I went with head coach Melissa Lehman to visit the Honors Program, to which I was accepted. From that point, I knew RU and the Honors Program was for me!”

Despite the great fit with Rutgers overall, the transition from high school and club lacrosse to Division I was a big step up for Klein during her.

“It was actually a shock for me at first as to how hard it was to acclimate to the speed and quality of play at this level during my freshman year in the fall pre-season,” the defensive midfielder recalled. “I got a lot better during the spring, which is our regular season. I didn’t play in a ton of games but as time went on, I could see myself as a Division I player. And I learned a lot from our veterans as we had our best season ever. We finished 10th in the country, getting to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.”

Klein worked hard over the summer, focusing on her attacking play, and is using the fall to improve even more as looks forward to the spring and her sophom*ore season.

“The team is loaded this season — we’re ranked #8 nationally,” she noted. “My job is to work hard every day to get better every day and show the coaches that I am a legitimate option to be on the field to help us win.”

Klein brings her ‘work hard’ ethos to her climate-centric studies at Rutgers Honors Program; her climate interest goes back to her middle school days: “I remember being super-interested in weather and meteorology back then. Fast-forward to the summer of 2019 and my junior year in high school. I went on a trip with Brown University to Alaska as part of their Environmental Leadership Lab. It started at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. We saw glaciers melting in real time. We studied ‘Starfish Wasting Syndrome’, a condition that is largely due to ocean pollutants, with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. We heard fascinating lectures, spoke to indigenous peoples about changes to the climate and also about the issue of drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), which former President Trump was supporting. Some native Alaskans were against it, but some were for it for the economic benefits. It showed me that climate is 1) a complex and multi-faceted issue, 2) the subject I wanted to study at college, and 3) where I want to make a difference.”

She is pursuing her drive to make a difference on climate as an environmental policy, institutions, and behavior major at the Rutgers School of Environment and Biological Sciences, with environmental law a possible career path.

Klein sees being an EcoAthletes Champion as an important aspect of her desire to make a positive impact on climate.

“I was interested in becoming a Champion as soon as I heard about it,” Klein reports. “I see EcoAthletes as an organization that can help me develop my climate communications skills, which I then can leverage on-campus at Rutgers through my platform as a lacrosse player.”

EcoAthletes founder Lew Blaustein sees Klein’s impact going far beyond the lacrosse field.

“I have no doubt that Kelsey will successfully use her platform as a lacrosse player at Rutgers and as an EcoAthletes Champion to accelerate the #ClimateComeback,” Blaustein enthused. “And this is just the beginning for her! EcoAthletes looks forward to working with Kelsey on the climate fight after she graduates, both inside and outside the sports world.”

You can follow Kelsey on Instagram

Kelsey Klein, Lax/Rutgers — EcoAthletes (2024)


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