By Chris Goltermann
Northgate Salutatorian Morgan Robertson said she won’t have any “life lessons” to tell when she takes the podium at Henry Seldon Field on Friday for the Class of 2019’s graduating ceremonies.
But in so many ways, she’s earned a master’s degree in how to handle — and equally balance — being a high school student.
The Lady Vikings senior lacrosse standout will head to Duke in the fall with much the same easygoing attitude that has helped her excel both on and off the field. Humility and humor stand out among a 17-year-old who doesn’t shy from sharing her opinion when asked.
For Robertson, high school was as much about surrounding herself not only with your equals academically in a competitive setting, but embracing the setting beyond the classroom.
“Find your perfect equal that will be supportive in your schoolwork and your extra curricular activities,” she said when asked what advice she could give to underclassmen. “And you can have more than one group of friends. I have one group that I only get to see at lunch.”
While Robertson in many ways followed the success of her older sister Brenda when it came to the lacrosse field, school seemed to be a natural fit. By the time she had turned four, Morgan’s father was making visits to her future elementary school pleading with administrators that she was ready to start kindergarten early.
They eventually agreed. And he wasn’t wrong.
“I honestly just like going to school and learning,” said Morgan, who won’t turn 18 until she reaches Duke in September.
Math and science have stood out, with calculus and zoology among Robertson’s senior class schedule as one of Northgate’s AP scholars with distinction. But she’s kept an open mind in others, despite fitting more left brain than right brain for those who believe in tendencies that have been called a modern myth in recent years.
“This year I liked [AP literature] because I liked my teacher,” she said, giving a nod to Dr. Kelli Sowerbrower. “But I still like math and science.”
There’s been a natural balance of success both in academics and athletics, where Robertson has helped center the Lady Vikings’ defense over four seasons that have included both Coweta Cup titles and eventual trips to the GHSA state playoffs.
While trying other sports such as track and basketball, lacrosse became a fit much as it did for her older sister, who went on to play for Kennesaw State’s club team while also now helping coach middle school players in Cobb County.
The Robertsons were neighbors of Syracuse University’s prestigious Powell brothers, who after dominating the sport in college had relocated to the Atlanta area. Both sisters picked up sticks and began learning the sport.
But while Brenda immediately found an older girls program, Morgan, still a fifth-grader, signed up for a team in what turned out to be a boys league.
She didn’t shy away, though.
“They thought I was boy because of my name, Morgan, is androgynous. I showed up and it was all boys but I still played,” she said.
The following year Morgan transitioned to girls — with a unique set of rules — while trying to undo some of the physical play that is more indicative of the boys game.
“My dad was one of our coaches and he would give me yellow cards all the time at practice. Sixth grade I was checking all these girls and they were crying. I wasn’t really trying to do anything wrong, I was just being a little too aggressive,” she said.
It paid off, however, when Robertson found herself playing alongside Brenda and other high school age girls at the club level. By the time she reached the varsity at Northgate, she was ready to step in and continue a current string of six consecutive Coweta Cup titles dating back to the 2013 season.
As a senior, Morgan scored 17 goals despite her own criticisms of her shot.
“I’m more of a defensive player,” she said.
Lacrosse also aided with the process of finding “equals,” including Class President and Lady Vikings teammate Olivia Sims. The two classmates went through the process of balancing academics and athletics together while both earning All-County accolades.
“I had some classmates on my team so it made it a little easier with things like calculus,” Robertson said. “I think it helps me more. It gives me structure. This fall when I didn’t have practice, I didn’t know what to do with my time. When I got home this spring, I knew I have to eat, shower and get all my homework done, but you sleep better at night.”
Robertson has created as many friendships outside school with a group from Cascade United Church that routinely does community service projects together.
“I get to see a lot of kids I don’t see at school. I see a lot of childhood friends,” said Robertson., who received four scholarship awards during Northgate’s recent honors night. “It’s a whole another group.”
As for her salutatory address, “I didn’t want to do a life lesson because I’m one of the youngest in my class. I’m still 17. I couldn’t really do any of that because I’m not officially an adult,” she said. “I just did a look back on my four years.”