Anya Gersoff ’16 is a rare two-sport standout at Princeton, and her career ambitions set her further apart. The senior attack on the women’s lacrosse team hopes to begin Officer Candidate School in the Army after graduation. She will find out in July if she has been accepted.
“She sees the military as a way to make a difference in the world and do good and give to something that has a higher purpose,” said longtime head coach Chris Sailer. “I haven’t had a kid go into the military. She’ll be my first.”
After serving as backup goalie for the first Princeton field hockey team to win an NCAA championship in 2012, Gersoff joined the lacrosse team for a conditioning test. She finished near the back of the pack, an eye-opener for the then-freshman. “The next year, she crushes it her first time back,” Sailer said. “She’s a kid that clearly learned.”
Gersoff, a Woodrow Wilson School major, started the last three years for the field hockey team. During the fall, her routine included waking up every day at 6:45 a.m. for an individual lacrosse workout, going to classes, and then heading back for field hockey practice. Sometimes, she even made time for “wall ball,” the lacrosse team’s informal skills sessions.
As a multi-sport athlete, Gersoff said that she’s learned to balance commitments. In the Army, she said, “I’ll still be part of a team and doing similar stuff. So maybe I won’t end up missing it that much.”
In lacrosse, Gersoff started all 20 games for last year’s Ivy League champions. Eight games into her final season, she had 11 goals, third-best for the Tigers, who have ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation and started the Ivy season 2–0.
“Her work rate is always extremely high,” Sailer said. “In that way, she always sets an amazing example.”
Gersoff began to consider the military after coaching lacrosse in Uganda with a nonprofit group before her sophomore year. “I actually became pretty disenchanted with the whole NGO prospect,” Gersoff said. “I felt like things weren’t really getting done, even though there was an opportunity to make a huge difference in people’s lives. That’s something that stayed with me.”
Gersoff sees her goal of being an intelligence officer as a way to fulfill the unofficial Princeton motto, “In the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.”
“I think that kids with our backgrounds really need to think hard about trying to serve in some capacity,” she said. “Not join the military necessarily, but trying to make a difference in the community, trying to do something good. If I’ve inspired anyone, it’s through that. I want them to try to think about committing to service somehow.”