Lauren Knowles, center, was joined on her signing day by, from left, mother Tracy Knowles, sister Raegan Knowles, brother Peyton Knowles, grandfather Jimmy Williams and father David Knowles. [Submitted Photo]

Lauren Knowles’ unlikely journey to lacrosse led her to a major moment a few weeks ago.

Knowles, a lifelong resident of the area and a senior at North Oconee High School, signed a lacrosse scholarship to Piedmont College. She is the first NOHS lacrosse player to earn a collegiate scholarship.

Her time on the NOHS lacrosse team began with the program’s inception.

Knowles played softball from the time she was 5 years old. She competed on travel teams from then on and, eventually, played for the Lady Titans softball team her freshman year.

Jade Paustian, who happened to be Knowles’ algebra teacher when Knowles was a ninth grader, approached Knowles about joining the start-up lacrosse program that year. It was Knowles’ skill on the softball field that caught Paustian’s attention and made her think Knowles could be an important piece on the new lacrosse team.

Though she had never before played lacrosse, Knowles earned a starting position on the varsity team her freshman season. She lettered that year, too.

Much like with her softball career, Knowles dove deep into the lacrosse world.

She played lacrosse again as a sophomore while also maintaining her spot on the softball team. That same year, Knowles joined the Thunderbirds organization in Atlanta and competed for its club lacrosse program.

Knowles chose not to play softball as a junior but was prepared to play lacrosse the following spring. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic cut the Lady Titans’ season short. However, Knowles already had valuable experience in the bank.

Knowles had previously attended Piedmont College’s lacrosse prospect camp in fall 2019. There, Knowles felt like she belonged and that lacrosse could be in her long-term future.

She later received a phone call from Kirsten Smith, head coach of the Piedmont College team. Smith offered Knowles a spot on the team. Knowles verbally committed to the Lady Lions.

The multi-sport Knowles went back to softball this past season where she earned a starting job in right field. She received an honorable mention on the Region 8-AAAA all-region team.

In addition to her success in multiple sports, Knowles also excels in the classroom.

Knowles ranks among the NOHS top 10 students academically. She maintains a 4.0 GPA.

Additionally, Knowles was recognized as an AP scholar. She will receive the Zell Miller Scholarship and other awards in addition to her athletic scholarship.

Knowles’ mother, Tracy, gushed over her daughter’s accomplishments and thanked the two coaches who helped set her up for the scholarship opportunity.

“We cannot thank Coach Jade enough for having recruited Lauren to try out for lacrosse and continually encouraging her in her athletic and academic endeavors,” Tracy Knowles said. “Thank you to Coach K and Piedmont College for signing Lauren.”

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