Anna Gotterup charges forward on the lacrosse field, excelling in the sport that she began in middle school to replace soccer.
Anna Gotterup charges forward on the lacrosse field, excelling in the sport that she began in middle school to replace soccer.

When a high school athlete is recruited by college programs, most students will choose what’s best for themselves, and rightfully so. On occasion, however, there are those rare cases such as Anna Gotterup.

When the Red Bank Catholic senior made her college decision in late September, it set things up to benefit her, her country and her faith.

A standout lacrosse player, Gotterup’s goal has been to play at the highest level with a Division I program from the moment she stepped on the field as a freshman. She was recruited by such schools as West Point, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Rutgers, Boston College and Virginia Tech, among others.

But they all paled in comparison to the United States Naval Academy, where Anna hopes to embark on a career as a fighter pilot, taking the attitude of a good Christian and a good Midshipman to the Annapolis, Maryland campus.

“Although I feel like I can do more for others, [I] always want the best for my friends, family and those I encounter,” Gotterup said. “I believe I can make a great impact in a career of service.”

It is something that Anna has thought about since sixth grade. While few girls that age are mapping out a career, the Little Silver native was already mentally filling out job applications.

“I realized that no profession really made sense for me until my dad brought up military service,” Gotterup said. “He wasn't in the military, but my grandfather on my mom's side was a supply officer in the U.S. Navy. The Naval Academy made sense, and had the bonus of Division One lacrosse.

“I did look into the other military academies,” she continued. “However, I didn't have the interest or drive for West Point that I did for the U.S. Naval Academy. The Air Force Academy was another top interest, but it doesn't have Division One women's lacrosse, so that was a deal breaker.”

Being a fighter pilot is risky business; then again, it does have its glamorous side.  

“I told myself that if I was going to serve my country, I would not be doing it from behind a desk,” she said. “Fighter jets have always intrigued me. I'm always looking for a challenge.”

In the classroom, Gotterup sports a 4.07 grade point average. To interest fellow students in serving their country, she is the president of RBC’s popular Military Club.

“The students are incredibly intrigued with the armed forces,” she said. “It is always a blast when Mr. [guidance counselor Ted] Jarmusz has speakers come in to discuss their career in the service.”

Faith is just as crucial to Gotterup, whose family belongs to Nativity Parish in Fair Haven. “I do believe faith will become increasingly more important as I embark on this path in life,” she noted. “It is something I can consistently depend on.”

Before heading off to a “wild blue yonder” of excitement, Gotterup is fired up for her final high school season as one of the top female lacrosse players in the Shore Conference. So far, the only thing that has slowed down her scoring was last year’s COVID-19 shutdown. Anna collected eight goals and nine assists as a freshman and exploded for 50 goals and 24 assists as a sophomore.

“I’m determined to break the school scoring record this season,” she said.

Growing up, Gotterup had no interest in playing the sport. She was a soccer and basketball player first and foremost.  

“I was unfamiliar with lacrosse and didn't think I was good at it,” she said. “Playing sports with a stick didn't quite make sense in my brain – and my coordination.”

Just for the heck of it, Gotterup played for the Mavericks Lacrosse recreation program in middle school and was forced to quit after dislocating her kneecap during a soccer game. That injury put Anna off of soccer for good, and her parents encouraged her to try out for T3 (now Jersey Shore Select) travel lacrosse the summer prior to her freshman year.

She played for the B team that summer and fall, and her desire to excel with a stick began to grow.

“I was so determined to be good at the game,” Gotterup said, “that I would spend hours every single day after school watching both men's and women's college film, practicing wall ball, and shooting with my mom in our backyard.”

The hard work paid off as she moved up to the A team in travel and earned a starting berth with the Caseys that spring.

“Since then, my motivation hasn't budged and my love for the sport is stronger than ever,” Gotterup said.

That made it truly serendipitous that Navy recruited her. Although, if it hadn’t, she might have given up the sport she loves so much.

“Not being able to play lacrosse at Navy would be heartbreaking,” Gotterup said. “But the reason I chose Navy was because if I ended up getting hurt and couldn't play anymore, would I still stay [at the school I chose]? There is no doubt in my mind that I would stay in Annapolis.”