There is no debate, Kate has been great for CUA
It didn't take long for Kate Robinson to establish herself as a standout on the lacrosse field at CUA. Prior to the first scrimmage of her freshman season, Head Coach Meghan McDonogh inserted Robinson into the center position vs. nationally ranked Limestone College. CUA wound up winning that day with Robinson playing a leading role. Fast-forward to today and Robinson has re-written the record books at Catholic University, while leaving a lasting impression on and off the playing field.
Robinson was having a strong start to her Cardinals career in 2007, scoring 15 goals in the team's first nine games, including the game-winner vs. local rival Goucher. But McDonogh knew she could get more out of her first-year star and she let Robinson know it.
"After the Goucher game I called Kate into my office because we were preparing for a big game vs. nationally ranked Washington and Lee," McDonogh says. "I told her she needed to step up. She has such tremendous natural talent and everyone on the team respected her so much that I think all she needed was the green light from the coaching staff and that allowed her to just go out and play."
Robinson responded by scoring the game-winning goal in that very next game vs. the Generals, and ended her first season in the red and black with a team-high 48 goals and 56 points. She was named the Capital Area Conference (CAC) Rookie of the Year, a Second Team All-Conference selection and a member of the All-Region Team.
Despite her success, Robinson says she was nervous going into her first season, partly due to the fact that she was also a member of CUA's basketball team and missed the lacrosse preseason. "I wasn't able to practice with the team early on due to basketball, but just getting that playing experience in lacrosse at such a young age was great. Everyone on the team really embraced me and made me feel welcome."
Robinson followed up her terrific first season with an even better one as a sophomore. She scored an incredible 91 goals and handed out 26 assists, while becoming CUA's first-ever All-American in the sport of women's lacrosse. Robinson also helped lead the Cardinals to their first-ever Landmark Conference championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament where they advanced all the way to the regional final.
If that wasn't enough she became the school's first-ever First Team All-American in women's lacrosse the next year, when she scored 77 goals, dished out 44 assists and collected every postseason award imaginable. Again CUA won the Landmark Conference championship and advanced to another NCAA Tournament.
With three spectacular seasons now under her belt Robinson was making headlines across the country with her play. She was named the 2010 preseason Division III Player of the Year by Lacrosse Magazine and was poised for a senior season that she hoped would end with a deep NCAA Tournament run.
Then, in the Cardinals second game of the season, the player who could not be stopped crumpled to the field and knew right away, her season was over. Robinson had tore the ACL in her right leg, an injury no athlete wants to deal with. To say it was tough would be an understatement.
"I was devastated," she says. "I had never had any type of injury that kept me out for an extended period of time so it was tough to deal with."
McDonogh remembers that day vividly. "It was one of the hardest days of my career to see Kate go down. All she kept saying was 'This isn't what's supposed to happen, it's not supposed to be like this.' We knew we faced a tough road ahead without her, but she was back in that huddle with us right away and helping her teammates in anyway she could."
McDonogh continued, "Kate and I grew very close during the time she was rehabbing. Having gone through the injury myself I knew what she was dealing with; I went to visit her the day after her surgery and just tried to assure the team that she would be ok."
In addition to McDonogh, Robinson also leaned on the woman who she describes as her hero and mentor, her mother Lynne. "My mom does anything for us (Kate has an older brother and younger sister). She was really supportive during my rehab and has always been there for me my entire life."
"My relationship with Kate is a treasure to me," explains Lynne, who is the Athletic Director at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland. "She has been a joy to our family since she was born and has always been so happy and funny, quiet and kind, yet determined and very competitive."
She goes onto say, "It touches my heart to hear Kate call me her hero and mentor. In return, I feel that I have become a much better person as a result of being a mom and having three wonderful children. I have always tried to instill in my children the importance of certain core values such as love of family, education, faith, respect, kindness, and hard work. Hopefully I have set a positive example of these values in my daily life, both at work and at home."
"It's inspirational to see my mom in her position as a collegiate athletic director," Kate says. "She's definitely a role model for me as a female in athletic administration. It's a field I have a strong interest in and her involvement has played a big part in that."
With a strong support system around her, Robinson rehabbed her knee vigorously and this season has returned to the field where she's helped lead the Cardinals to a No. 8 national ranking and the top seed in the upcoming Landmark Conference Tournament.
Saying her knee feels great, Robinson reflects on what she learned during her time away. "I think sometimes people take playing sports in college for granted, so I'm just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I have this season. Whether it's practice or a game, I just want to enjoy every bit of it."
"Kate is one of the strongest and most talented lacrosse players I have ever known," says CUA junior All-American Mary Swarthout. "More importantly, she is an athlete with relentless determination. She never gives up when faced with setbacks like her injury last year."
She continued, "I am so grateful that I have gotten to play with Kate for the past three years. I have become a better player by playing with her. Off the field she is kind and considerate and is always looking out for others, especially her teammates. She has heart and hustle, is a great leader and will be missed."
Having already earned her undergraduate degree in psychology, Robinson is currently a graduate student working towards a master's degree in management. Following this season she'll be back for one more year as the graduate assistant of the women's lacrosse program. Just hearing those words makes McDonogh smile.
"We had talked about grad school prior to her injury, and it looked like she may go to Mount St. Mary's, but now she's going to come back here and I'm thrilled," McDonogh says. "Kate already is like a coach for us on the field; she sees things much better than before her injury, but there's more to it than that. As coaches we lean on her to gauge the pulse of the team. There is a not a better person that I would want on my staff next season as a coach and I'm glad I don't have to think about losing her for another year."
If the pure joy of being back out on the field this season wasn't enough for Robinson, she is also enjoying the privilege of playing with her younger sister Mary one final time. Mary transferred to CUA this year after two years at Bridgewater College and the sisters are cherishing their final season together.
"We were teammates on our very first lacrosse team when I was in fourth grade and Kate was in sixth," Mary explains. "So we've played together for a long time. This year has been so special and fun for both of us and we don't want it to end."
She adds, "When I was deciding to transfer my choice came down to two schools, CUA and Mount St. Mary's. When I knew that Kate was returning for one more year for sure, it made my decision that much easier to come here."
"It's been great to play with Mary one more time," Kate says. "We have that sister-sister connection on the field where we just know where the other one will be. She's one of my best friends and it's made this season that much more special."
"It has been a joy to see the girls playing lacrosse together again, particularly at Catholic University, which has become such a special place for us over the past five years," says the mother of the two Cardinals. "This time a year ago we didn't know for sure if Kate would even be able to play again, and Mary was at another school. For them to be teammates for the first time since high school is wonderful, not only for Kate and Mary, but for our entire family."
With her final season of lacrosse winding down, Robinson is asked to reflect on what she's learned while in college, and also what she'll miss most about the experience. "I think it's important to take advantage of the time you have here. It's only a small amount of time that you have in college, so make the most of it." She continues, "I'm definitely going to miss my teammates. They're a great group to be around."
"Kate has changed this program," McDonogh says. "She was the most outstanding player on the field as a freshman, she is a huge reason why we were able to break into the top-20 nationally, and she's put us on her back and carried us to the next level."
She concludes by saying, "Our team respects Kate more than anyone and she's earned that respect with the way she goes about things. Catholic University is very lucky that she stayed here and will finish here. It's lucky to have her as a student, as an athlete and eventually as an employee."
Robinson and the rest of the No. 8 Cardinals will begin their quest for a fourth straight Landmark Conference championship on Wednesday, May 4 when they play host to the Goucher Gophers. Game time is set for 4 p.m. from inside Cardinal Stadium.