March 11, 2011

Former LM Preseason Player of the Year Robinson Returns, Says She's 'One of the Lucky Ones'

by Mark Macyk |

Catholic's Kate Robinson, Lacrosse Magazine's 2010 Division III preseason player of the year, tore her ACL in the second game of the season. The Cardinals made the NCAA tournament without their star player, which bodes well for their chances with her this year.

Consider Catholic's Kate Robinson the anti-Allen Iverson. She's finding every minute of this lacrosse season thrilling, even when she's just talkin' 'bout practice.

"Honestly I do enjoy practice," Robinson, Lacrosse Magazine's 2010 preseason Player of the Year, said. "Every practice."

Robinson is embracing each minute of the 2011 lacrosse season. Because it was never supposed to happen.

Last year should have been coronation for Catholic's career point leader. A senior year to cement her place in the record books and lead the Cardinals on a deep playoff run.

What's that old saying about the best laid plans? Ten minutes into the second game of the season Robinson prepared to turn past a defender and hit the ground.

"My leg stayed and my body went the other way," she said. "I knew it happened when it happened. It was scary."

Robinson tore her ACL and her senior season was over. The Cardinals went on to lose that game 17-6 to Salisbury, the start of a five-game losing streak.

"Our team had figured out what happened," CUA coach Meghan McDonogh said. "It was awful, you see tears going down people's faces. She's a great leader, a great person, regardless of her skill level. To see our team so upset was the hardest thing. She was trying to be strong."

But this story has a happy ending. As horrible as the injury was, looking back, both Robinson and McDonogh say it was a blessing. By the time Robinson had surgery in April, CUA had begun a run of 13 wins in 14 games, culminating in a trip NCAA tournament.

A team that in the past had deferred to Robinson in big moments suddenly had a new star every game. Meghan Brady transferred in from UMass and scored five goals against Stevenson. Becky Borell shored up the defense and was named third-team All-American. Nine players made all-conference. Mary Swarthout became the second Cardinal sophomore, after Robinson, ever named All-American.

"Every day someone else stepped up," McDonogh said. "The team kept fighting."

Meanwhile Robinson, who also played on CU's basketball team, adjusted to life without athletics. She threw against a wall or passed from stationary positions. And she became a vocal leader on the sidelines.

"It was bizarre," Robinson said. "I did learn a lot. I saw things very differently. The way people move on offense, off draws. It was interesting. It helped me help some of the girls on the field. As much as it was annoying to be on the sidelines, it was really cool."

To stay sane Robinson treated every moment as a milestone. When she could walk. When she could run. When she could step on the field. She knew she was ready when she finished a five-mile run on Thanksgiving with her dad and sister.

"I was tired," she said. "But I figured if I can run five miles, I can at least play a lacrosse game."

The best part of the story? Robinson gets a second chance. The injury happened early enough to give her an NCAA medical hardship waiver and a fifth year. Now she's a first-year grad student in business at CUA and a fifth-year starter on attack. And for the first time since high school, she's playing alongside her sister Mary, who transferred in from Bridgewater.

Robinson got a rush when they called her name before this season's first game, a 19-2 romp of Randolph-Macon. The changes in the team were evident. Robinson dished out a career-high seven assists and 13 different Cardinals scored. Robinson relished every one of them.

"Not many people get another opportunity," she said. "I have to embrace it... I was devastated at the time, but it helped me really grow as a person and a player. It gave me a whole new perspective on the game and life. I take nothing for granted. I'm one of the lucky ones."

You can bet the Cardinals are feeling pretty lucky too.

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