Once Grounded, Now Soaring
By Patrick Janssen
Patriot League Assistant Media Relations Director
Injuries happen to everyone.
Everyone except Katie Gardner. Or so Gardner thought. Now a senior at Holy Cross, Gardner began her collegiate lacrosse career with hope and promise. She had been a three-year starter at Garden City High School in New York, and success had come easily throughout her youth. After tallying a staggering 61 goals and 34 assists as a high school junior, Gardner followed that up with another 35 goals and 32 assists while helping her team record a perfect 21-0 record in her senior campaign.
Her breathtaking play was enough to convince Holy Cross head coach Stephanie Ridolfi that she wanted her in Worcester. Her first meeting with Gardner only solidified that fact. "I could immediately tell that she had outstanding character," Ridolfi said. "She was constantly talking about her teammates, her team's success, her grades, her family, basically anything but her individual success."
That high level of character would come in handy for Gardner, shortly after she arrived at Holy Cross. Despite never suffering an injury in high school, Gardner succumbed to a serious knee ailment that kept her off the field for all but one game in her freshman season. "That is definitely tough," Gardner said. "Nobody likes to miss time, certainly not me. It was something I had never experienced before, and I didn't quite know how to take it at first. I was just really uncomfortable on the sidelines for a little while."
"She had such a great fall, so it was a big blow to our team when she went down," Ridolfi said.
Once the healing began and Gardner returned to the field, her character again began to take over. "The toughest part of an injury is having the patience to return to full strength," Gardner said. "I have always competed at a high level, so having to start from square one was extremely difficult."
But once fully healed, Gardner had no problems performing at a high level once again. She came back as a sophomore as she was tied for first on the team in assists with 10, while she was second in points with 33 and third in goals with 23. Then as a junior she led the team with a career-best 50 points and a career-best 25 assists, while she was tied for the team-lead with a career-best 25 goals.
"It is exactly what I expected out of someone like her," Ridolfi said.