Zoe Lockwood was a high school sophomore at South Kingstown in December 2021 when the University of Rhode Island announced plans to add women’s lacrosse to the athletic department’s lineup.
Upon hearing the Rams would officially begin competing at the NCAA Division I level in 2025, Lockwood – specifically noting her graduation year – felt the timing might be slightly off concerning the recruiting cycle and the high school class the Rams would choose to cast a wide net in searching for talent.
“Initially, I thought 2024 was the class they would be starting with,” said Lockwood, who’ll graduate from SKHS this spring.
Imagine the surprise when Rhode Island head coach Jenna Slowey let her intentions be known that Lockwood was on the Rams’ radar. Rewinding to last summer, Lockwood was competing with Revolution Lacrosse, a girls club lacrosse program, when interest began to percolate on Slowey’s end.
Upon watching Lockwood compete in a tournament in Maryland, Slowey continued to keep close tabs on a player who she deemed was worth bringing into the fold.
“I had seen [Slowey] at a few tournaments … someone pointed her out to me,” said Lockwood. “Then she called and introduced herself and asked if I wanted to visit the school.”
So much for the Rams concentrating their recruiting efforts with high schoolers set to become seniors next fall. For Lockwood, it turns out that being part of the Class of 2023 didn’t serve as the deterrent that she initially perceived. In constructing a women’s lacrosse roster one brick at a time, URI was sending a clear-cut message regarding formalities such as your high school graduation date. It didn’t matter – not in the slightest.
With interest both genuine and significant on Rhode Island’s part, Lockwood changed her recruiting stance to include a brighter outlook.
“I was excited to see the facilities and programs that would be there for us when we got there,” she said. “Coach Jenna takes everything seriously and puts her all into everything. She sets a high standard for herself and the team.
“I said to myself, ‘Wow, I get to be a part of this,’” Lockwood added. “Rhode Island had everything that I was looking for.”
Call it history in the making. Call it a pioneering process. Call it getting in on the ground floor of a start-up operation.
However you wish to describe it, know that Lockwood will be part of the inaugural women’s lacrosse team at URI – a prospect that has her galvanized when sizing up the possibilities of what can be accomplished in Kingston.
“It’s so awesome,” she said. “Considering it’s a program that’s in my hometown and less than five minutes from where I live … lacrosse has always been a sport where I’ve had to drive to [travel] tournaments. This is something right in my backyard. That makes it even cooler.”
Technically, Lockwood will be a true college sophomore when the Rams start to play games for keeps. Next spring, the team plans to hit the turf at Meade Stadium for a series of exhibition contests.
“We’ll still be able to practice like we would during a normal year,” said Lockwood.
The exhibition slate that’s on deck for next spring won’t count toward Lockwood’s eligibility status. Starting with the inaugural 2025 season, she will have four seasons to compete for the Rams with the final one possibly serving as a graduate year.
“The [Atlantic 10] conference was appealing, knowing that we’re going to be playing good teams right off the bat,” said Lockwood. “Having that extra year with my recruiting class will give us a chance to get to know each other before we’re competing in games that count towards our record.
“Everything will start with us,” Lockwood added. “We’ll be able to set the standard in so many areas. It’s awesome but it’s a big responsibility at the same time. We have our work cut out for us, but I’m looking forward to every minute of it.”
It was last November when Lockwood signed her National Letter of Intent. Among the Class of 2023 prospects, she’s one of 11 signed up to join the lacrosse fold at URI. A midfielder with South Kingstown, she plans to join the Rams with an open mind position-wise.
“I just want to the on the field and give it my all wherever I’m put,” she said.
There’s another badge of honor that Lockwood – someone planning to double major in political science and journalism – can lay claim to. She’s the only Rhode Island native from the Rams’ 2023 recruiting haul.
“I think there’ll be some younger girls interested in the program,” said the South Kingstown senior who can’t wait to make athletic history a stone’s throw away from where she grew up.
Brendan McGair is a sportswriter and columnist with the Pawtucket Times and the Woonsocket Call. A graduate of Providence College, McGair is a five-time recipient of the R.I. Sports Writer of the Year Award as voted by the National Sports Media Association (NSMA).
Follow McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03 and on Instagram @bwmcgair.