When he was a freshman, Charlie Kitchen was 5-foot-9 and a rail-thin 130 pounds.
He spent that season on the St. Augustine junior varsity lacrosse team.
"I used to like speed dodging," Kitchen said, "because I was usually smaller than everyone else."
It's a striking comment from someone who measured a hulking 6-foot-31/2 and 205 pounds this year.
It also goes a long way in explaining Kitchen's game.
In a breakout season, Kitchen beat defenders in a variety of ways.
He was nimble and quick for someone who was generally bigger than any other player on the field. He also knew how to use his size to his advantage.
He went from a JV player as a freshman to a breakout star as a senior, a leader on South Jersey's top team.
The Inquirer player of the year in South Jersey boys' lacrosse, Kitchen had 57 goals and 22 assists against one of the country's toughest high school lacrosse schedules.
He was an integral piece of a team that stood toe-to-toe with Delbarton in the Non-Public Group A semifinals. Kitchen's goal in the fourth quarter of that game tied the score at 6-6.
The Hermits went on to lose, 10-6. But the performance was telling of just how strong St. Augustine was this season: Delbarton went on to win the Tournament of Champions in convincing fashion, topping Pingry, 13-4, in the final.
The Hermits' success this season, according to coach JC Valore, was due to having players with the type of work ethic exemplified by Kitchen, who will move on to play for the University of Delaware.
"If you go back, even to his junior year, he wasn't the player that he is now," Valore said. "His senior season is the result of the pressure he's been put under and the work that all of our players have to put in to excel."
Kitchen is a gym rat. And when he's not in the gym, he's usually working on his game, often with his brother, James, a midfielder at Hofstra.
"Practicing with him helped me learn how to use my size," Charlie Kitchen said. "We have a long pole at home, so I bodied up on him, had him swing at me, and learned how to protect my stick and really worked on that aspect of my game."
Aside from his refined skills, Kitchen also shone in the season's biggest moments.
He scored five goals in his team's regular-season win over Moorestown, a 14-9 triumph widely viewed as the de facto South Jersey championship.
It was his way of leaving a mark on a program he sees as headed for greater heights.
"These teammates became like brothers to me," Kitchen said. "And Coach [Valore] is probably the best coach I've had or will have.
"I want to be able to come back here someday and watch them win a championship."
Contact Chris Melchiorre at email@example.com.