For four years, Katherine Zisis watched from the sideline as the girls lacrosse manager for Roslyn (Roslyn Heights, N.Y.).
The 19-year-old senior had been diagnosed at birth with pulmonary stenosis, a heart condition that restricts blood flow. She had numerous operations and had to undergo physical and occupational therapy and is considered learning disabled. Though she's also a varsity bowler, she typically isn't allowed to compete in contact sports because of she has heart palpitations.
Roslyn lacrosse coach Michelle Crennan, a health teacher at Roslyn Middle School, had been a mentor to Zisis in middle school and had broached the idea about Zisis being the team's student manager once she reached the ninth grade. Not untypical for a teen, Crennan said that Zisis has a sarcastic sense of humor, flagrantly breaks team rules about cell phone use during practice and would tell teammates to "run faster, grandma" during drills.
With the team's season winding down, her teammates wanted Zisis, the team's only senior, to have a chance to play Saturday on Senior Day, so they worked with her the last few weeks at practice.
The work paid off as Zisis scored the team's first goal in a 13-8 defeat of Wheatley.
"We knew of her medical condition, but she was cleared to play in a short stint, for a couple of minutes," Crennan said. "She prepared for this in practice and tried to built up her cardio endurance the last couple of weeks. I made sure she knew to communicate if she was having any problems."
Difficulties with hand-eye coordiation make tracking the lacrosse ball difficult for Zisis, called "Kit-Kat" by her teammates. Standing about eight meters from the goal, she dropped the first pass, scooped it up and barely missed the goal. Her teammates fed her another pass, which she dropped, scooped up and tossed in, to her team's jubilation.
"I was pretty confident that she would score," Crennan said. "She shoots better than some players on the team. We also knew she would struggle to catch the ball and we had been practicing diligently on a play."
Crennan said the buildup to the game was a little distracting.
"The last couple of weeks, we were really excited about the experience," Crennan said. "The focus wasn't on the game itself, but about making a tremendous experience and a memory."
Zisis got another opportunity to play at the end of the game but didn't get a chance to shoot. After the game, when the Roslyn varsity normally surrounds its goalkeeper, the Bulldogs instead swarmed Zisis and lifted her on their shoulders.
The rest of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Performances of the Week:
Danielle Alexander, Cheyenne (Wyo.) Central
Track athlete, 2013
Came from behind in the final 100 meters to break a five-year-old school record with a time of 57.78 seconds in the 400 meters at the Wiseman Invitational Saturday in Torrington. She also won the meet's 200 meters and triple jump and finished second in the long jump.
Blake Andres, Potlatch, Idaho
Threw a five-inning no-hitter in a 14-0 defeat of Troy on Friday, allowing only three hitters to put the ball in play. He also threw a perfect game earlier this season.
Kiwi Burrell, Addison, N.Y.
Threw a no-hitter and went 3-for-4 with a homer and eight RBI in a 15-0 softball defeat Wednesday of Campbell-Savona (Campbell).
Mary Cain, Bronxville, N.Y.
Track athlete, 2014
Competing against three older former Olympic Trials runners in the 800 meters in the Re: Run San Diego Meet Sunday, she finished fourth in 2:01.68. The next fastest high school girls time this season is 2:09.94.
Joe Cravero, Hanover, N.H.
Struck out 16 batters and pitched a no-hitter Wednesday in a 8-0 defeat of Lebanon. The Holy Cross signee struck out 11 of his final dozen batters.
Jake Czerwinski, Aurora, Ohio
First baseman, pitcher, 2013
Went 12-for-20 in defeats of Perry and Solon with eight RBI. He also threw a seven-inning one-hitter in the defeat of Perry and a eight-strikeout five-hitter in the defeat of Solon.
Kylie Frank, Montgomery (Ala.) Catholic
Distance runner, 2017
Set a state 3A record Friday in Selma while winning the state Class 3A 1,600-meter title, defeating two-time state champion Karisa Miller with a time of 5 minutes, 11.11 seconds.
Carly Lewis, Seymour, Tenn.
Georgia College signee threw a five-inning perfect game and went 3-for-3 with a double, homer and four RBI in a 13-0 defeat of South-Doyle (Knoxville) in District 2-AAA softball tournament on Tuesday.
Ray White, Deer Valley, Antioch, Calif.
Left-hander threw his school's first perfect game in a 11-0 defeat of Freedom on Friday. White, 15, only needed 75 pitches and was helped by his defense as he only had five strikeouts.