Long Path to Glory: Siblings Alyssa and Kyle Long Both Undefeated Champs

PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANK LONG

Maryland's Kyle Long and North Carolina's Alyssa Long both won national championships with undefeated teams in 2022.


Alyssa and Kyle Long shared an emotional embrace with their parents, Cathy and Frank Long, in the Rentschler Field stands after their teams completed unbeaten national championship runs.

Kyle had three assists as a senior midfielder for the Maryland men’s team that topped Cornell 9-7 for the NCAA men’s title on Memorial Day. Alyssa had flown up to East Hartford, Connecticut, witness her brother’s win barely 24 hours after the sophomore midfielder celebrated the North Carolina women’s team’s 12-11 win over Boston College to finish a perfect season of its own at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

“I don’t know if a more special moment will ever come in my life than when he jumped up at that stadium and we got to hold him,” she said.

The two had shared heartbreak when their teams both came up one goal short on Memorial Day Weekend in 2021 — Maryland in the national final and North Carolina in the national semis. It made their twin titles — perfection, no less — all the sweeter.

“It’s not easy going through that,” Kyle Long said. “You face adversity in life, and us two going through it together and coming back the next year and flipping the switch together was pretty cool.”

Their relentlessly competitive sides drove them to become Division I lacrosse players after each played three sports growing up in the Philadelphia suburb of Springfield. In their kitchen cabinet, they kept a running tally of their wins in board games and card games against each other.

“I can remember being really young and whoever put their seatbelt on first won,” Kyle said. “That’s kind of how it was in our house. I think our mom and dad embraced that.”

Cathy Long, a physical education teacher, coach and referee, won a field hockey national title as a player at Old Dominion. So when their kids both won NCAA titles, Frank Long became the only person in the house without a national crown. But the third-grade teacher and Springfield High School boys’ basketball assistant coach earned his own special achievement with a hole-in-one at Maryland’s alumni golf tournament this fall.

“He’s very proud,” Cathy Long said. “He can say he’s the only one in the household that has a hole-in-one. That’s his claim to fame.”







The siblings share their mother’s flashing speed. They get their mental toughness, resilience and drive to be better from their father. Frank Long often used inspirational quotes to illuminate their path through high school. He could be tough, but he was also the first one crying tears of joy.

“If your goal is to be a Division I player, there’s a price to be paid for that,” he said. “We just tried to let them know that what you do in the offseason will make the difference in the season.”

The siblings grew up loving basketball, but their height limited their prospects beyond high school. Alyssa Long followed her brother to his lacrosse tournaments, and by the end of middle school, both saw bright futures in lacrosse.

“He’s the epitome of, ‘Watch me, I’ll prove you wrong,’” Alyssa Long said of her brother. “He passed that down to me. We definitely battled a lot, but in the long run, it helped. I’m super competitive. I hate losing. That stems from as early as I can remember doing things with him.”

Both combine a quick, scrappy tenacity with speed to create an advantage in lacrosse. While their playing styles are similar, Alyssa is considered the more vocal of the two — though she wouldn’t call Kyle quiet.

“He likes to put on a show that he’s a man of few words, but don’t let him fool you,” she said. “In the house, he adds a lot of energy. In high school, when he would wake up, he would wake us up by yelling a quote.”

The siblings continue to support and serve as a sounding board for each other through the ups and downs of college life and athletics. Alyssa hasn’t had as big a role with UNC as Kyle has with Maryland, but in true Long fashion, she continues to compete for her time. It’s all the siblings know.

“I think we both made each other better through the years,” said Kyle Long, an initiator out of the Maryland midfield who was a second-team All-American in 2021 and ranked third on the team with 25 assists (plus 17 goals) in 2022. “Sometimes, it’s not good to compare, but there was always a little comparison, and it was really awesome.”

Their mutual journey toward the pinnacle of college sports has kept the family tightly connected to each program. Kyle Long was thrilled the day before he helped Maryland down Cornell to see his younger sister, who always followed in his footsteps, win a national title.

“I was happy for her and her teammates,” he said. “It’s such a grind getting to Memorial Day weekend.”

And when Alyssa Long’s team won, she didn’t hesitate to join her parents in flying up to witness first-hand her brother’s title contest the next day.

“When your sibling is close to accomplishing his dream, there’s no question that you’re there for him,” she said. “It was tough to not go back on the bus and be there with my team that night, but being there to watch him win, it made all 21 years of my life watching him trying to succeed worth it.”

Their Memorial Day embrace was the surreal culmination of years of competition and caring. The Long family knew exactly how hard Alyssa and Kyle had worked to share that moment and memory together.

“We’re very thankful that they both won,” Cathy Long said. “It made for a very nice summer that they were both champions.”

Suggested

Most Recent

2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 6 Syracuse (Women)

Health and goalie play seem to be the only things standing in Syracuse's way.

2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 6 Notre Dame (Men)

Snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee, there's plenty of fuel for Notre Dame's fire.

Time Away Couldn't Stop Record-Setting Jane Earley

Earley registered a school-record 80 goals after essentially missing two years.

2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 7 Rutgers (Women)

Coming off a history-making season, Rutgers is catching nobody by surprise in 2023.







Twitter Posts