Catholic University feels like home for Mirsky

Being co-captain of the Catholic University defending Landmark Conference champion field hockey team is a role that senior Catherine Mirsky was voted to by her teammates last year to take on. On top of that extremely important job, Catherine has another important and difficult role in terms of her academic career. "My planner has my life filled out down to the minute," Mirsky says.

As a freshman, Catherine started out just as many CUA students do, as an exploratory major, unsure of what career she really wanted to pursue. Second semester of her freshman year she decided she was going to follow the field of both her parents, her mother a nurse and her father a doctor, and become a nursing major.  "It's always something that has been in my nature, I've grown up with it, and seeing how well received the program is here, I decided it was really something I wanted to do," she explained.

At the same time she decided she wanted to become a nursing major, Catherine had also just completed her first fall season of hockey where she played and started in all 19 games for the Cardinals and was named to the NFHCA Division III National Academic Squad.

The constant mix of field hockey and nursing was just beginning for Catherine. The first two years for all Catholic University nursing students is mostly spent inside a classroom, and the following two years are spent primarily in the hospitals for long clinical hours with real-life patients and doctors. "It's definitely difficult to go straight from working at the hospital for eight hours to practice and be expected to perform at a high level," Mirsky says. "It has taken me some time to figure out a way to be good at both."

During her season, Catherine's typical week consists of two games, where all of the rest of the weekdays are spent at practice, or sometimes as a combination of her eight clinical hours with either a game or a practice.

The field hockey team gets one day off a week, primarily on Sundays, but Catherine's off days are always spent working at the hospital or doing school work. Even with all of the hours at the hospital and physical effort she puts out almost every day on the field, the combination of field hockey and nursing is something that Catherine never thought about giving up on.  "I know that I'm very passionate about hockey and I'm very passionate about nursing," she explains. "Honestly, I'm the kind of person who just does better when they're busy."

Catherine's mindset and will to achieve is something that head coach Gia Cillizza could detect from the first time she saw Mirsky play. "What stood out to me the most was probably how fluid she was as a player," Cillizza says.

This in combination with her strong fundamentals are what made Coach Cillizza decide to talk with both Catherine and her parents about coming and playing for Catholic. The Cardinals have been nothing but successful these past three years where Catherine has made her mark on the team's history. Both athletically and academically Coach Cillizza recognizes Catherine's success. "I'm proud of all of her athletic and academic recognitions," Cillizza says. "It's truly remarkable to be such a good student at the same time as being such a strong field hockey player."

There were several factors that went into Catherine committing to Coach Cillizza and the Catholic University of America. She went to high school just about 30 minutes away from the university in Bethesda, Maryland and was unsure if she wanted to go to college so close to home. "Initially I didn't want to come to school here, I wanted to get out," she says. However, Mirsky decided to give Catholic University a shot and came for an overnight visit that ultimately was the deciding factor for her. Her parents are able to come to all of her games and she is able to go home and visit them whenever she does have the smallest dose of free time on her hands.

The closeness of the school wasn't the only detail Catherine had to think about. With a name like The Catholic University of America, she thought that religion might become an issue. Her mother is Irish Catholic, but her father is Jewish. "Once I visited I knew it wasn't going to be an issue at all, CUA is not overbearing with religion and I'm glad I didn't shut it down immediately just because of the name," Mirsky says.

With almost half of her senior year complete, Catherine is definitely beginning to think about her career and how much she is going to miss the Catholic University of America. However, when it comes to field hockey, she is still fully aware that her season isn't close to being over. The team is currently ranked No.19 in the country and they are undefeated in the conference.

"I hope to graduate with another NCAA run and a job," Mirsky says. The NCAA run is something she is currently working on and is definitely possible to achieve with the season the Cardinals have had thus far. As a captain, Mirsky is a role model for the entire team and she is definitely going to be missed for both her leadership and her skill.

Teammate Allison Pollock, a junior nursing student, has benefited greatly from the example Mirsky has made both on and off the field. Allison is on the same exact accelerated nursing track as Catherine, so she is able to come to her with any and all specific questions or concerns that relate to the program.

Not only has Allison benefited from Catherine in terms of nursing, but she has also gained support from Mirsky when she has needed it the most. A month ago, Allison was involved in a situation where she needed to be rushed to the hospital late at night and Catherine was right there beside her to make sure she was okay. "She's not just a leader on the field, she's a leader off the field too," Pollock says. "She's there for the entire team with things that have nothing to do with field hockey." This kind of example and the way she sets a tone both academically and athletically are going to be missed by all of her teammates and coaches.

The number one thing Catherine is going to miss about Catholic University: the people. "Honestly, there is a sense of community here. You walk on campus and you don't feel like a stranger, it's really comforting."

Upon graduation, Catherine wants to find a job working at a hospital in a new city and find that change in setting she never really got to experience when going away to college.  Her only fear is that she will lose touch with the people that she is close with, and important people from the Catholic University community.  But her strong work ethic seen both in the hospital and on the field hockey field will forever be a part of the way she leads her life.

Mirsky and the rest of the Cardinals have two regular season games remaining, beginning on Tuesday afternoon when they travel to face Ursinus at 4:30 p.m.

On Friday, October 26, CUA will welcome Drew to town in a crucial Landmark Conference showdown on Senior Day.  Start time is set for 4:30 from inside Cardinal Stadium.

Story written by Vanessa Clifford '13, CUA Office of Athletic Communications

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