By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As most freshmen are thrown out of their comfort zone and forced to find friends at the beginning of their college careers, Emilee Ehret, Carly Celkos, Kirsten Gochnauer and Brooke Birosik were already with their closest friends.
"As soon as you're on campus as a freshman you have friends," Gochnauer said. "Our class is from different areas and backgrounds but we all cliqued. We all lived in McElwain together and our dorms were right beside each other. Brooke and Emilee were together and Carly and I lived together."
Each of the four seniors have different backgrounds and personalities. One common factor between them though, was they each fell in love with Penn State's campus the minute they arrived. For Ehret, she loved it so much that she committed before telling her mom.
"My mom and I were both speechless after the visit," Ehret said. "I was so eager and excited to commit. I know she wanted to wait to see what other places I could go to, especially because I was looking at playing with my sister at Penn. I was also just about to receive my SAT scores, but I just knew that I wanted it. I went upstairs and called Char [Morett-Curtiss] and committed. I came downstairs and told her and she yelled, "Oh my gosh you are kidding me!' She was really excited and it turned out to be so funny."
Ehret has been one of the most consistent and steady players for head coach Morett-Curtiss this season. Despite her love for field hockey, Ehret has decided not to pursue sports after graduation as she was just accepted into the Teach for America program.
"Teach for America is where individuals are selected to become teachers in low-income communities," Ehret said. "I will be teaching elementary school. Each individual commits to teach for two years and are hired by the partner public schools across the country. During these two years, they are called 'Corps Members.' I will be getting a Master's Degree at the same time too, also set up by Teach for America."
With her post graduation plans already lined up, Ehret is able to thoroughly enjoy her senior season and reminisce on some of her favorite memories.
"One of my favorite memories is when I got a weird injury freshman year that caused me to not really be able to sit," Ehret said. "I was sitting beside Brooke and she slept for an eight-hour bus drive on the floor for me because I was in so much pain and needed more space. It was so painful, but looking back on it, it was one of the funniest memories from my time here."
Like Ehret, Birosik has also begun planning for her future after field hockey. She is currently studying the commercial side of recreation and park tourism management. She is trying to decide if she wants to stay in sports by going into sports management or branch out of her comfort zone and do event planning for hotels or different venues.
Birosik has been an integral part of the Penn State offense in her four years in Happy Valley. This season she has registered nine goals, seven assists and 25 points. With all of her success, Birosik could not imagine her life without Penn State field hockey.
"My teammates are my best friends, I don't know who else I would talk to," Birosik said. "If I have any issues, the first people I tell are my teammates and coaches. Sometimes we do team bonding events. We do this game where we put random things on a piece of paper and act them out like charades. It gets the freshmen out of their shell and it's one of my favorite things every year to see everyone's personality. Maybe we can all plan trips each year and meet at a certain destination to come back together."
This year, Birosik lives in an apartment with Celkos and Gochnauer. Birosik and Celkos enjoy cooking and getting their nails done together.
Celkos also devotes a lot of time to Life Link. Life Link is a program that Penn State offers to serve special education students, engage them in academic programs and help them gain independence. Celkos has tutored these students through an online course and also assisted with a cooking class last spring. She is studying rehabilitation and human services and plans to be an occupational therapist.
In her senior season, Celkos has registered one goal, three assists and five points. Celkos said that it took a few months during her freshman year for her, Ehret, Birosik and Gochnauer to get close, but once each of them had their break-through moments, they could not be closer.
"I was roommates with Kirsten freshman year," Celkos said. "We didn't get close until this one away trip. We were both really home sick and overwhelmed from school. We both started hysterically crying and then we became really close. That was our moment."
Gochnauer's favorite moments with her teammates were always at a bonfire at the beginning of the school year. It was a time for the team to get together outside of field hockey, talk about their summers and get the freshmen involved with the team.
Gochnauer has recorded two goals, six assists and ten points so far this season. As graduation approaches, Gochnauer prepares for a life in the medical field.
"I am involved in the Global Medical Brigades," Gochnauer said. "I am on the executive board. I order medications for medical clinics in Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras. We typically spend 5,000 dollars per trip. I went to Nicaragua last spring and was in charge of 29 students. I was in charge of all the planning, travel plans and where we would be working. Once we were in the country, I organized medical clinics each day, made sure everyone knew their role and taught different vital signs for everyone to take."
Gochnauer's love for the medical field came from her mother's work as a nurse for 25 years and the fact that she is prone to injury.
"As a kid I was in and out of the hospital with broken bones and so many other injuries," Gochnauer said. "At Northwestern I had to get three stitches because a field hockey stick hit me in the mouth and chipped my tooth. I didn't know it was chipped until I took my mouth guard out and saw half of the tooth laying in it."
With so many different interests and personalities, it establishes a superior class of senior leaders.
"This group of seniors is very special in that they play a very important role on the field," head coach Morett-Curtiss said. "They were all players as freshman and really had to learn the system. And now as a senior class, I think they bring a lot of security to their teammates. They are confident in their own ways. The team sees them not as being one senior leader, but four senior leaders. That shared leadership really helps balance out our team and helps our team be as close-knit as they are."
Although the four seniors are very different in their own ways, the one thing they all agree on is that they will be back for every alumni game and homecoming.
Birosik, Celkos, Gochnauer and Ehret can thank field hockey and McElwain Hall for their life-long friendship.