It wasn’t that she disliked the other high schools in the county. It was just that Etowah offered something that most of them did not — lacrosse.
At the time, Stairs had only been playing the sport for a few years, but she had discovered a passion. She had never been much for sports, and aside from brief periods as a swimmer and gymnast, she had never spent much time thinking about sports.
But Stairs began to thrive in lacrosse. Both on the team at Etowah and through her travel squad, she found an arena in which to excel as an individual and contribute as a team member.
“I was very excited that I could play in high school,” said Stairs, who started with Cherokee Youth Lacrosse. “Coming to Etowah was good.”
After recording a team-high 61 goals with 11 for Etowah as a junior this season, Stairs is the 2013 Cherokee Tribune Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
“I love the feeling that I get just being a part of the team and winning,” Stairs said.
Etowah coach Gil Strougo said Stairs is a natural player.
“I met Victoria when she was in eighth grade working with the junior team,” Strougo said. “She is very ambitious and wants to keep learning. One thing that has always impressed me is that she is very coachable. She loves her teammates and she is very passionate about her team and the sport, and that is a great thing for a player to have.”
Stairs has already started setting goals for her final high school season. She would like to help the Lady Eagles reach the state playoffs again and make it past the opening round.
“I want to play more than just one playoff game,” she said.
Etowah finished the season with a team-record 13 win, but it was in one of the most competitive areas in the state. The Lady Eagles finished fifth in the area, just missing out on a state playoff berth.
Stairs says that playing in such a competitive area has rewards.
“It can be intimidating and challenging just because we want to go farther than we ever have,” she said. “It just pushes us to try harder than the years before.”
During the club season, Stairs teams up with some of her high school competition. Among those who Stairs plays with during the club season is Jaclyn Chiesa, one of the top players from Towne Lake rival Woodstock.
“You go out there to win, but after the games you say, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’” said Stairs, who said that bragging rights matter. “It’s especially like that playing against Woodstock, our rival.”
This season, Stairs and the Lady Eagles claimed the bragging rights with an 8-5 victory over Chiesa’s Lady Wolverines.
Strougo said one reason that Stairs has continued to improve over the years is that she constantly challengers herself.
The coach also ups the challenge level occasionally.
“She will come to practice saying, ‘Coach, look what I can do now,’” Strougo said. “Then, I will push her by saying, ‘Try to do it with the other hand or move it around differently.’ She was always up for the challenge. That fact that she always pushes herself makes her the great player that she is.”