Athlete of Week: CF’s Daly a true leader on, off field

Carolina Forest senior defender Patrick Daly is a bit of a pioneer for lacrosse on the Grand Strand, and he appears to have even more leadership in his future.

Daly is among the first wave of local lacrosse players to pick up the sticks at an early age. Now he’s a Mammy Kitchen Athlete of the Week award winner for his leadership on the field, in school and community. Daly plans to continue his commitment to service as he heads to the U.S. Naval Academy. It’s a scenario he couldn’t have imagined when he joined the Dunes Warriors Lacrosse Club program with about a dozen other kids willing to try the new sport.

“My dad played lacrosse in high school and he first got me interested in it,” Daly said. “When I was in the third grade I was one of the first kids on the Dune Warriors, the first club team. I knew it would catch on. It’s a fast-paced sport and a lot of fun. It’s great to see how much it has grown.”

Socastee High had Horry County’s only varsity team when Daly started in the sport a decade ago, and now he is a senior captain at Carolina Forest, one of five county schools to offer lacrosse for boys and girls, varsity and JV. Daly had the honor of playing on the first local squad to win a Class 5A state playoff game last season, but the Panthers lost 13 seniors and underwent a coaching change. Those factors have added more work to Daly’s plate.

“We only have three returning starters, Kaidon (Hunt), Steven (Elias) and myself, so we haven’t had the best season,” Daly said of the 3-9 Panthers. “I knew as a returning captain my role was going to be to keep everyone’s spirits and attitudes up. Our head coach got a good job offer and took it. I’m happy for him, he’s doing great with it, but Coach Ryan (Gross) and I have been working together to get this team ready and try to rebuild the program.”

Daly, who also serves as student body president at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology, plans to continue down the path of leadership at Navy. After attending Palmetto Boys State, Daly was motivated to pursue and secure an appointment to Annapolis, and perhaps beyond his required five-year activie duty service. He plans to try out for the lacrosse team, but he is determined to keep leading from the front wherever his future leads.

“Palmetto Boys State is run by the American Legion, and (Horry Post 111) selected me and some other guys to go and learn local and state government,” he recalled. “They had a lot of very patriotic speakers, men of courage who fought for us in battle. It really inspired me to follow in their footsteps.”

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