Mattie Shearer spent most of her childhood dreaming of attending Duke University.
Last week, that dream became a reality when the Western Albemarle junior announced she had verbally committed to play lacrosse for the Blue Devils.
“I have always dreamed of going to Duke ever since I was little,” Shearer said. “I knew right when I stepped on campus that I wanted to be a Blue Devil.”
The daughter of former Virginia and James Madison assistant and current Richmond volunteer assistant Colleen Shearer, the passion for the sport has been in Mattie Shearer’s blood since she was old enough to walk.
Shearer spent countless hours with a lacrosse stick in her hand and Durham on her mind.
Dana Boyle, who coaches Shearer at Western Albemarle, played for her mom at UVa and remembers Shearer discussing her intentions with anyone that would listen.
“Anyone that knows Mattie knows that she has been talking about going to Duke since she could first say the words,” Boyle said. “I have vivid memories during my time at Virginia listening to Mattie talk about how she was going to play at Duke one day when she was around the team, traveling on the bus with us to away games or on the sidelines at practice. I could only help but laugh, given that her mom was a UVa lacrosse coach and Duke was another ACC rival for us.”
Shearer admits that exposure helped prepare her for moments like this.
“I have been around lacrosse my whole life,” Shearer said. “I have always had a lacrosse stick in my hand but didn’t start playing competitively until my sophomore year. At a young age, watching the Virginia team influenced me to dream about playing lacrosse in college. To be able to continue my mom’s legacy means a lot to me. Now I just got to beat her records.”
Last spring, Shearer turned in a monumental season for Western Albemarle, leading the Warriors to the program’s first VHSL Class 4 state championship game appearance. She scored a team-high 69 goals, including five goals in the state championship game against Dominion.
A master at the dot for Western Albemarle, Shearer finished with more than 100 draw controls and was a first team all-region and all-state performer.
Shearer was active on the recruiting trail this summer, visiting several perspective programs to gauge their interest.
The visit to Durham was just as she imagined.
“I loved the campus, it’s a beautiful place,” Shearer said. “The lacrosse team is great. The team really gets along well. I feel like the team truly gets along and loves playing with each other. I really like the coaching staff and I know that I will grow on and off the field.”
Shearer felt a strong connection with Duke coach Kerstin Kimel and her staff and liked the vision they have for her as a player.
Recruited as a midfielder, Shearer said the Blue Devils’ coaches like the versatility she brings as a straight attack as well.
“The coaches respect how hard I work and how I’m willing to grow,” Shearer said. “I think they like how feisty I am and how I make an impact on the draw circle.”
Shearer noted that several programs were interested in her as an athlete, but she narrowed her options to Duke, Pennsylvania and Georgetown.
“The choice was very difficult for me,” she said. “I truly loved every school I visited. However, I’ve always known I wanted to be a Blue Devil, so when they offered me, I knew that Duke was what I wanted.”
She’s also excited for the opportunity to play in the ACC, and, more importantly, a chance to play in front of friends and family every year.
“Playing in a conference like the ACC is an amazing opportunity,” Shearer said. “The competition in the ACC is awesome and I’m so excited to compete against the best, especially at Klöckner. I have always wanted to play at Klöckner Stadium and I’m so grateful that I finally get a chance to do so. My individual goal is so to start as a freshman and contributed to the team the best I can.
“My main goal is to win a national championship.”
Off the field, Shearer is still determining her course of study. She has an interest in psychology and communications, with the possibility of working in sports broadcasting at some point.
The junior midfielder has plenty of time to make that decision but is happy to have found a college home this early.
“I feel some sense of relief, but this is just the beginning,” Shearer said. “I have to continue to grow, on and off the field. I need to get faster and stronger. I also need to maintain my grades and get a good ACT score. The grind has begun.”
That also includes some unfinished business at Western Albemarle. The junior is eager to get back to work this spring and pursue a state championship.
Boyle couldn’t be happier for Shearer.
“To say her commitment to Duke is exciting would be an understatement,” Boyle said. “It has been so fun to watch Mattie grow up and develop as a young woman and elite athlete. I hope Mattie’s commitment to Duke proves inspirational for any young athlete looking to play at the next level. If you put in the work, most often when no one is watching, and believe in yourself, anything is possible. I am so looking forward to watching Mattie play at the next level.
“This is only the beginning for her.”