Was in Allentown, Pa. for the Pennsylvania state championships, and around halftime of the Class AA title match, I ran into a phalanx of blue-and-white striped players and coaches from undefeated Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.).
One face in that crowd, however, showed instant recognition. It was Kiley Kulina Strohm, one of the best players in the Lower Dauphin program’s history. She attended Penn State and made the U.S. women’s national team pool in 2002, but did not earn a cap.
But the two of us had an on-field moment together on a hot summer afternoon in 1999. It was a four-nations tournament for the U-20 national teams from England, the United States, Chile, and India. I had been hoping to sit and enjoy the afternoon up at Kean University, but was asked to volunteer as a ballboy. I seized the chance to view the action from up close. Not only did I get to see our young American players, but got my first chance to see up close a young lady named Paula Infante, who would win the 2005 Honda Award for the best field hockey player in the NCAA.
After the AAA final which saw Lower Dauphin beat Flourtown Mount St. Joseph’s (Pa.) 2-1, I ran into Kiley’s younger sister Kellie Kulina, wearing the maroon and black of Lock Haven. A few years back, I had believed that she, Ashleigh Haas (University of Virginia), and Carey Fetting-Smith (University of North Carolina) had the vitality, game sense, flair, and strength to help change the game as we know it in the United States.
But that hasn’t happened. Haas made her name on the lacrosse field, winning the national title at Virginia. Fetting-Smith now works in New York, and Kellie Kulina now works one-on-one with young special education students in Dauphin County.
Which makes me wonder: if I were to pronounce here that Wyoming Seminary sophomore midfielder Kelsey Kolojejchick might find herself on the same fast track as Katelyn Falgowski or a Katie O’Donnell, would she fall under the equivalent of The Sports Illustrated Curse?