March 17, 2014 Updated: March 17, 2014 at 7:25 pm
When Melissa Rausch took over the Rampart girls' lacrosse program five years ago, she didn't even know if the program would survive.
The team hadn't had much success, and Rausch knew that if she was going to revive it, she'd need some athletes. That's where Kelli Warmouth came in.
The Rams were 4-21 in Rausch's first two seasons, but finished 14-13 the past two years. A big reason for the turnaround is Warmouth - a junior who had never even played lacrosse until high school.
"When we first started building this team two years ago, my coaches and I started looking at girls who were good people and amazing athletes," Rausch said. "Kelli was a softball and basketball player; she and some of her friends came out for the team, and we were lucky to have her. She's a super athlete and has this drive that you can't teach - you either have it or you don't."
Warmouth's competitive spirit and athleticism made her a natural for lacrosse. She has great speed and vision, and Rausch says her top scorer is always asking a lot of questions and trying to get better every day.
"I had never even heard of lacrosse when I was a freshman - my family was set on me playing golf," Warmouth said with a laugh. "The assistant coaches came and talked to me, and my teammate Allie Popelar had played before, so she and her dad convinced me to try it. When I scored my first goal, it was a rush."
Through four games this season, Warmouth has 16 goals and eight assists. Last week, she had a combined nine goals and four assists in two games, as the Rams defeated Douglas County 15-4 and Smoky Hill 17-6.
Rampart is off to a 3-1 start and looking to improve upon its 8-7 record last season. The team's four captains are the four best scorers, and all four are juniors, making this a team on the rise for not only this season, but the next one, too.
"Last year, the girls were smart enough to figure out when they should win and lose, and we played to those expectations," Rausch said. "They believe that they're good now, and it's the changing of a culture. They believe they should win now."
Warmouth is at the forefront of that culture change. The 5-foot-6 blur with a stick led the team with 49 goals last season, and was named second-team all-league. She wants to build something special at Rampart, and thinks the Rams are on their way.
"It's huge to build a legacy - I would've never had a chance to play without this program, and I think the incoming freshmen should get a chance to play," Warmouth said. "Playoffs is a huge goal this season. It's awesome being part of a team that came from nothing and is hopefully on its way to the playoffs."
Rausch sees Warmouth as a special athlete who could play lacrosse at the Division I level if she stays on track.
"She wants to excel at everything and wants it badly," Rausch said. "Kelli has the ability to play at whatever level she wants. D-I programs who look for athletes are going to look at her because that's what she is, an athlete."