While it's always a nice story when a high school student-athlete gets accepted to play his or her sport in college, it's not an occurrence that's all that uncommon. Each year, thousands of high school seniors move on to play a sport in college, but Emily Stein's case is a bit different. That's because the three-sport Darien High School student has already given a verbal commitment to play Division-I lacrosse for Northwestern - as a sophomore.

For Stein, a key member of Darien's lacrosse, basketball and soccer teams, Northwestern had been the top choice for quite some time, though she also gave at least some consideration to North Carolina, Duke, Georgetown and Cornell. Stein, a midfielder, will be joining a lacrosse team which won five consecutive NCAA national championships between 2005 and 2009 and another in 2011.

"I wanted a good mix between academics and a good lacrosse program and Northwestern offered that. I really liked being in city, and Chicago is close to Northwestern. It's a really good town, and I liked the coach, the program and the girls when I was there," Stein said. "It's really exciting because it has always been my dream school, and I've wanted to go there for a long time."

More Information

Fact box

According to Darien lacrosse coach Lisa Lindley, Stein is a player who has all the tools necessary to adjust to the college level.

"I think for her, what she needs to think about is getting stronger physically because as you go through the high school years, the competition will get harder," Lindley said. "From there to the next level, everyone can run. [College players] have it all."

It is fairly commonplace for colleges to instruct incoming student-athletes to only play the sport that they are going to play in college. However, Northwestern was different in that regard and has given Stein permission to continue to play basketball and soccer as she continues through high school.

Northwestern's leniency on this matter was another key selling point for Stein.

"Northwestern lets you keep playing sports, so I thought that was really great that they didn't make me quit basketball and soccer, and I could keep enjoying high school seasons," Stein said.

Although she'll have to stop playing basketball and soccer once she attends Northwestern, Stein indicated that it was "not really" a tough decision to choose between her three sports, as lacrosse had always been her favorite.

And while Stein is already an accomplished high school athlete, she fully expects stiff challenges when she takes the field for such an established Division-I program.

"I think the speed of play is definitely a lot faster and stronger and there are better players," Stein said. "So, I think that working hard, staying in shape and getting stronger will help me transition from high school to college."

The Darien basketball team has started the season 3-2, and Stein believes that her squad has what it takes to make it back to the FCIAC and State tournaments.

"We just need to keep working hard at practice and give it all we've got in games because we have a good strong team this year," Stein said. "It's a great team and I think we can make FCIACs and get far."

Stein still has plenty of time to decide on a major between now and the time she goes to college, but she indicated that she's giving some consideration to journalism.

"They have a really good journalism program and maybe that is something I would consider, but I'm not really sure yet what I'd want to do," Stein said.

In the meantime, Stein is focusing on the time she has left at Darien High School, both in the classroom and on the field.

"It's great that I'm getting the chance to keep playing high school sports and keep playing on the lacrosse team with everyone. We're looking forward to [this season]," Stein said. "Hopefully we just keep winning, have a good record and get to the State Championship."

And her coach is happy to know that she can pencil Stein into the starting lineup for three more seasons.

"Her strengths are that she has great hands, she sees the field very well and she plays both ends," Lindley said. "That's a key too; she's strong on the offensive and defensive ends. She's able to finish, so she has all the qualities you need to play at the D-I level."