St. Katherine of Siena eighth graders took home four championships this school year alone.
Winning a championship is a dream come true.
Winning four in a school year is almost unheard of.
But that’s exactly what five eighth-graders from St. Katherine of Siena did this school year when they had a hand in winning two soccer titles, a basketball championship and a softball crown.
In the fall, St. Katherine won its third straight District One CYO soccer championship, then followed it up by winning the Archdiocesan championship, which includes not only the schools in the city but the surrounding suburbs.
The celebration didn’t last long because right after the soccer balls were tucked way, the players turned their attention to basketball, where they also won a District One CYO crown, and advanced to the semifinals of the Archdiocesan tournament.
Again, no time to rest because the players then turned right to softball and once again won a District One CYO title.
Long year, but worth every second of hard work.
And for the five, Katie Harmon, Molly Powell, Gianna Grassifulli, Leah Flade and Olivia Ovington, it was the perfect school year.
“I didn’t think we would win all of them, but it was so great that we did,” said Ovington, who plays defense in soccer, second base in softball and sees time all over the basketball court and is headed to St. Hubert in September.
“I thought maybe we would win one or two, but then we won two in soccer. It was so fun. I really think it was the perfect school year.”
She was surprised, but her teammate wasn’t.
“I knew from the beginning that we were going to be good,” said Grassifulli, a future Archbishop Ryan student who plays midfield in soccer, point guard in hoops and pitcher in softball. “I felt like we were going to win every season. I was confident and believed in us. Everyone did, and that’s why we won all of them.”
The CYO championships were nice.
For the Torresdale natives, being the best in the city was a huge accomplishment and the reason they played each year.
But the cherry on the sundae was winning the Archdiocesan tournament, which makes them the best in the area.
“We really wanted to win that one,” said Powell, a future St. Hubert student who plays defense in soccer, forward in basketball and catcher in softball. “That was the best for us, but basketball was good, too. We lost the last three years to St. Matt’s so it was good that we beat them.”
“I think the basketball championship, winning the Archdiocesan one, was the biggest thing we did this year,” said Harmon, who plays midfield in soccer, swingman in basketball and outfield in softball, and is headed to Nazareth Academy.
“Every championship was special, but winning that one was the biggest one for us. We won two in soccer, and we really wanted to win the Archdiocesan because it’s the city and the suburbs.”
“I thought beating St. Helena in the Archdiocesan championship was our best game,” said Flade, a New Foundation’s student who played goalie in soccer, forward in basketball and softball in outfield. “They were a really good team, so beating them was the best game. I thought we played really well.”
Winning championships gives all of the players a bond that will never be broken.
And next year, they’ll likely play against each other in various sports.
All of the girls intend on playing sports in high school, and since many are headed in different directions, they know they’ll see opponents they consider friends.
No matter what happens, though, they’ll always be friends.
“It will be weird playing against them, but I think we’ll all still be friends,” said Ovington, who also competes in robotics and participates in the science club. “We were friends for a long time and we’ll all still want each other to do well.”
“I played against my friends this year and we’re still friends, so next year if I play against (her St. Katherine’s teammates), we’ll still be friends,” Grassifulli said. “We’ll try and beat each other, but I know we’ll always be friends.”
That’s just another reason this class was a special group.
Sure, they were great athletes, but they were better people.
“They had a great year and I’m proud of them,” said softball coach Joe Grassifulli, Gianna’s dad. “They worked really hard. It’s not easy to be good in more than one sport, and they did it. They deserve it.”
While the five above were the only ones who won in all three seasons, there were other dual-sport athletes who greatly contributed to the success of St. Katherine. Softball and soccer stars were Mackenzie Curry, Emma Angeli, Lauren Sullivan, Keira Whalen, Lauren Quinn and Brianna Gordon. Mia Tobin, Nicole Burke and Quinne Boyle played both soccer and basketball. ••