Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Oct. 26, 2022 — This time, it’s personal

Monday was just another ordinary day at St. Louis Central Visual and Performing Arts (Mo.). That is, until a 20-year-old with a rifle entered the school and started shooting anything that moved.

One of the people who died was a member of the 1979 AIAW Division II field hockey national championship from Southwestern Missouri State, Jean Kuczka. Kuczka was a goalkeeper on the team, which beat Colgate 2-0 in a final played at Princeton University.

Kuczka played in four games, and the Bears shut out three of them. She had played her scholastic field hockey at Sappington Charles Lindbergh (Mo.), a field hockey program which gained attention last year for not giving up a goal in open play the entire season, only failing to advance in the playoffs because of a post-overtime tiebreaker.

Kuczka, despite putting away her leg guards years ago, had not lost the itch to coach. This year, she coached the cross-country team at St. Louis Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (Mo.), which shares a campus with the Central Visual and Performing Arts School.

And as it turns out, Kuczka’s final save on Monday cost her life, but saved the lives of dozens of students who were heading in the other direction, fleeing the gunman, according to witnesses.

“When I found out, the first thing I could think about was … that’s how much she cared about the students,” student Alexis Allen-Brown told CNN. “She was going to save those babies.”

The numbers of mass shootings across America since 2009 have been studied and compiled ad nauseum, especially when a mass shooting becomes entwined with a certain place — Columbine, Jonesboro, the Pulse nightclub, Sandy Hook, Uwalde.

But for me, this tragedy is personal. This is, as far as I can tell, the first member of the American field hockey community to lose her life in a mass school shooting.

Only it’s frightening that Monday’s shooting barely registered mention in the news this week, showing how inured the American psyche is to the possibility of mass violence at the barrel of a gun.

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