Grodzicki signs with Ball State

By on June 12, 2019
Warwick’s Caitlyn Grodzicki, a Ball State University-recruit, battles a Penn Manor player for the ball during a game last year. Lititz Record file photo

Warwick’s Caitlyn Grodzicki, a Ball State University-recruit, battles a Penn Manor player for the ball during a game last year. Lititz Record file photo

When Caitlyn Grodzicki was considering Ball State University as her college destination, the Warwick Class of 2019 field hockey player had a good ally in her corner.

It just so happened that Warrior assistant coach Bethany Han played for the Cardinals.

And she had nothing but high words of praise for the school in Muncie, Ind.

“Her experience at the school was really great,” Grodzicki said. “She just said that she loves Muncie and (Ball State) has a really good mindset academically and they work well with their athletes.”

That helped to seal the decision for Grodzicki, who signed with the Cardinals to study nursing and continue her hockey career in the Division-One Mid-America Conference.

For awhile, she had been looking at three Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools — Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg, and Lock Haven.

But then the Cardinals’ coaches saw Grodzicki playing in the spring of her junior year and invited her out to the Ball State campus for a visit.

From there, the rest is history.

“I just fell in love with it right when I got to campus,” she said. “The coaching staff really drew me in. They were so welcoming to me. They have a really good vision for what they want to make of the team in the upcoming years. They’re rebuilding the program to what it used to be. And I love the campus and the location of it.”

The location is roughly eight hours from Lititz, quite a bit more from her other two finalists, Bloomsburg and East Stroudsburg. But Grodzicki doesn’t mind the distance.

“I actually like it a lot — I didn’t want to be too close to home,” she said. “I kinda wanted to explore and get further out.”

Stephanie Bernthal, a four-year starter at Kent State University, is a second-year head coach for the Cardinals. Previously, she spent four years on the staff at the University of Richmond, first as an assistant coach and then the associate head coach, helping the Spiders earn 42 wins while reaching two Atlantic-10 championship games.

In Bernthal’s first season at the helm, Ball State went 2-4 in the MAC (2-16 overall), but they had a young team, with redshirt junior Michelle Shampton and redshirt sophomore Rachel Pereira leading the team in scoring with 11 and 10 points, respectively, and sophomore keeper Grace Chavez playing all 18 games for the Cardinals.

“We just want to try to build up the program, continue to improve and be at the head of (the MAC),” Grodzicki said. “I’m super excited for that.”

In Grodzicki, Ball State is getting a player who led the Warriors in scoring last fall, collecting eight goals and two assists from her midfield role for a Warwick team (7-5 Section One, 10-10 overall) which advanced to the L-L playoff semi-finals.

“(Caitlyn) has good, strong fundamentals — roll one defense, passing, receiving, trapping,” Warrior coach Bob Derr said. “The one that I loved the most about individual skills was her hit.”

That skill earned Grodzicki a key spot on Warwick’s penalty corner unit, inserting the ball to a teammate at the top of the circle.

“She had a good solid, strong hit and it was right on spot and it was nice and smooth and easy to receive,” Grodzicki said. “And along with that, she was very good at tipping. Anything that went wide of the cage, she did a nice job of getting in position to tip the ball into the cage, which made her dangerous on penalty corners too.”

A two-year starting midfielder, Grodzicki shouldered a lot of responsibilities for the Warriors, both offensively and defensively.

“The thing that makes her a strong midfielder is she can read play well and she can distribute the ball well,” Derr said. “Along with that, the ability to recognize up-and-down numbers in the game is very important, especially as a midfielder. Your midfielders are pretty much the quarterbacks of your team.”

Midfield could also be a home for Grodzicki when she moves on to play for the Cardinals.

“(Ball State) is a really good fit for her,” Derr said. “I think she’s going to see some playing time early. If she’s prepared and comes in strong and fit, she’ll have a good shot at that school where she can get a good education and at the same time still enjoy playing the game she loves.”

Ball State’s roster includes another former L-L League player in sophomore-to-be Callie Rumbaugh, a Conestoga Valley product, and Grodzicki is part of a big freshman recruiting class. She has talked to many of those players, and will officially meet them when she reports in late-July.

“A lot of our team is younger classmen,” Grodzicki said.

Together, they and their Ball State teammates will play a Mid-American Conference schedule which includes Miami University (Ohio), Appalachian State, Ohio University, Kent State, and Central Michigan. A year ago, the Cardinals also played top-20 teams Iowa, Ohio State, Louisville, UNC, Michigan and Northwestern.

“That’s going to be a big change and I’ll have to get used to it, but I’m super excited to get to play those levels of competition, like the Big Ten schools,” Grodzicki said. “That will be exciting.”


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