Spring preps spotlight: Summit High’s Loren Keen, Katelyn Keen, Tom Kalina and Conor Craig
In their debut season, the small but scrappy members of the Summit Rugby boy’s team have dealt with dozens of growing pains. And bruises. And black eyes. And several games without a single try.
All that changed April 2 when the Tigers took on Monte Vista away and lost by just one point, 16-17. It was the brand-new team’s first time putting points on the board, and now the hungry squad is more than ready to prove they’re worthy of the rugby legacy built by the Summit girls. And they might even believe it.
On the lacrosse pitch, the Summit girl’s have put together a few dominating wins and several near-losses to go 2-4 on the season. They aren’t quite fighting the same uphill battle as the spring rugby squad — Lady Tigers lacrosse has several veterans and a very deep roster of underclassmen — but nothing is ever easy between cancellations, indoor practices and constant travel.
About halfway through the season the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with captains from both teams — including twins Katelyn and Loren Keen — to talk about the season, pre-game veggie wraps and how Wu-Tang Clan is the best pump-up music for a rough-and-tumble rugby match.
Loren Keen, No. 25 Lady Tigers lacrosse
Loren Keen hated lacrosse when she first stepped onto the field about six years ago. At the time she played goalie, and aside from getting pelted constantly with rock-hard balls, she just didn’t like being stuck in one spot. The next year she found the midfield and her love for the sport, which is just as strong now in her junior year. The 17-year-old leads the girl’s team with her twin sister, Katelyn, and is a consistent force on offense, with five goals in six games this season.
First lacrosse memory: When I first started playing lacrosse I wasn’t too into the sport because I started as a goalie and I didn’t like that I couldn’t score or run around, and I definitely did not like having balls thrown directly at me. So for my first year I didn’t think I would be returning to the sport, but the next season rolled around and my mom signed me up for it and I played in the midfield that season. I immediately fell in love with being able to run anywhere I wanted to on the field and being able to score and get the draw, so all that is what kept me coming back year after year.
My lacrosse career highlight: Probably when we went into overtime last season with our rivals, Battle Mountain. We lost the game, but it was such an intense game and I remember feeling like it was one of our better games that season and we really came together as a team to try and beat them.
My favorite memory off the field: I can’t think of a single practice off the field that I would consider my favorite with my team, just because they are all so fun. The team is full of such good friends and we all have such awesome chemistry that no matter if we are having a tough practice or a tough game its always fun to just be able to be playing with each other. There’s always laughter, and we are all always messing with each other in a fun and playful way. But, we all also are very good at pushing each other to work harder, run faster (and) shoot more that it’s honestly such a good fit for all of us to be on that team.
Coach Merri is also amazing at letting us have fun and play around, while also making sure that we are getting everything out of practice as possible. She plays off of our goofiness and has us doing fun drills that really test and work our skills, all at the same time.
If I weren’t playing lacrosse…: I’d imagine I would probably be doing club volleyball or something like that. I can’t see myself playing soccer — I would trip too much — and I don’t like running enough for track.
Pregame meal: I’m probably eating a veggie wrap or veggie sandwich. Nothing too big — just enough to give me some energy for the game.
Post-win celebration: Having a fun practice the next day if we don’t have another game the day after or having a team dinner or just hanging out with some of my teammates. I also really like going over every good thing we all did that game in my head and trying to figure out how to make sure we apply that to every other game we play.
Pump-up music: “Hollaback Girl,” by Gwen Stefani. But, if you asked me in a week it would be completely different (laughs).
My pre-game ritual: I have a black and greyish Junk brand headband that I always wear during my games. I always make sure that I have my uniform and that headband before any of my games.
Biggest rival on the field: My biggest rival is definitely my twin sister, Katelyn. We do literally everything together and she always pushes me to do my best and play as hard as possible. If I feel like she’s playing extremely well then I always push myself to try to play harder and better, to try and catch up. We are always commenting on how the other is playing, negatively and positively. But, she’s my biggest critic and my biggest fan. She’s one of the first people to come congratulate me when I score and also one of the first to get on my case when I mess up or if I’m not working hard enough. It makes for a fun dynamic, but I imagine the rest of my teammates get annoyed whenever we are yapping at each other.
Katelyn Keen, No. 24 Lady Tigers lacrosse
Like her twin sister, Katelyn Keen didn’t like lacrosse at first. It was another case of love at third or second sight, and, like her sister, she has fast become one of the most reliable players on the Lady Tigers roster. She doesn’t score quite as much as Loren — Katelyn has just one goal on the season so far — but she’s got a feel for the rhythm of the game and manages the ball well. She’ll be even better next season as a senior.
First lacrosse memory: When I first played lacrosse I didn’t like it very much. I thought it would be impossible to pick up. But, once I started practicing more with my friends and my sister on my own time outside of practice, I started to fall in love with it. I wanted to always go pass the ball around and practice shooting on goals. Once I got better at it and started catching and shooting, I fell in love.
My lacrosse career highlight: Definitely the first goal I ever scored in a varsity high school game. I was on swing team, so I was playing both varsity and JV my freshman year. I got a great pass from one of the seniors at the time and had a clear shot to goal, so I shot and I scored. I was so happy and that brought my confidence on the field up a lot.
My favorite memory off the field: (It) always comes from the days that the whole team is happy and we’re into it and there’s a lot of good vibes going around, and we all just play around with each other all practice. Those are the days that we actually practice hardest, and we come onto the field during the next game in good spirits and we remember how much we love each other.
If I weren’t playing lacrosse…: I would probably try to pick up soccer. I played for a little bit in elementary school, but I wasn’t very good at it.
Pregame meal: A sandwich, some fruit, and then a Gatorade.
Post-win celebration: I love the bus rides home after we win because everyone is so happy and we all talk and have fun on the bus. Team dinners are also a great way to celebrate a win. That way you have the whole team together and we’re all celebrating together.
Pump-up music: My teammate, Maddy, made a warm-up playlist that gets me pretty hyped before a game. It has a lot of good rap and pump-up songs that get us ready to play and go out with energy.
My pre-game ritual: I don’t necessarily have any rituals or lucky clothing, but I always wear a thick headband to protect my ears from the wind and so that my goggles stay on my face better.
Biggest rival on the field: I would say that my twin, Loren, is my biggest rival. It’s kind of a twin thing: I want to be the one who’s pushing her to do better because she pushes me to do better. Not only is there competition on the field with the other team — my sister and I are also competing.
Tom Kalina, No. 9 Summit boy’s rugby
Three months: It’s how long Tom Kalina, vice captain of the Summit boy’s rugby team, has been playing and studying and wrapping his head around a brand-new sport. Now, after years of seeing the girl’s team dominate just about every team they play, the senior finally had his chance to play. It’s been a rough season, but he and his crew expected that. Now, it’s just time for the senior to groom a crew he can be proud of long after he graduates.
First rugby memory: I loved playing rugby right away. I went into it thinking I would do really well, but I was quickly proven wrong! There is so much to learn in rugby and it is something you can spend the rest of your life trying to learn. What keeps me coming back is the relationships you have with your teammates. This is my first team sport and I love the family feeling of our team.
My rugby highlight: I have never had an official team sport before, so it’s really nice to have one and be able to learn a new sport at the same time.
My favorite memory off the pitch: Our first game. For some of our guys it was their first time in a tackling situation. We lost that game and everyone was tired and sore. Even though everyone got rattled during the game, everyone found a new love for the game and couldn’t wait to learn more. No one wanted to quit and couldn’t wait for more!
If I weren’t playing rugby…: I would be rock climbing and skiing. I have been skiing since I was 4 years old and was on a mogul team for six years, from when I was 8 until I was 14. I started climbing when I was 12 and still continue to do so. Both sports I now do for fun and are big parts of my life.
Pregame meal: Probably spaghetti before a game. It’s hard to say because I have many favorite meals.
Post-win celebration: I like to go home, eat a big meal, and then take a nap or relax.
Pump-up music: I listen to either techno or dubstep. It helps me stay motivated for those really long workouts where you have time to think about how tired you are.
My pre-game ritual: I like to step out onto the field by myself and take in the moment, forget about everything else and just focus on how much I like to play. This lets me appreciate the sport and calms me before the game begins.
Biggest rival on the pitch: In any given situation, I always think my biggest rival is myself. I always believe I can do better. The physical game against another team can be difficult, but not as difficult as the mind game. If you can win the mind game and have done your best, then you are a champion, no matter what the score is at the end of the day.
Conor Craig, No. 10 Summit boy’s rugby
Conor Craig could be the next Summit rugby star. The 16-year-old sophomore has been watching the sport and waiting to play since he was young, and after score all of the Tigers 16 points in their 16-17 loss to Monte Vista, he’s showing the young team that boy’s rugby has arrived — and is now here to stay.
First rugby memory: I have been watching rugby since I was born. My little sister’s first word was “goal” when we were watching the Rugby World Cup on my couch around 12 years ago. I knew from a young age that I wanted to play, I have loved watching rugby and it was only a matter of time before I started playing.
My rugby highlight: So far my biggest accomplishment has been to score 16 points in our most recent match against Monte Vista.
My favorite memory off the pitch: Every Thursday after training, we get together and have pizzas (provided by our sponsor) and just hang out. We go over plays with our coaches, watch film, talk about life, play pool and just enjoy being a team. That is a great experience. Also, we have an unofficial mascot, Curtis. He’s a red plastic giraffe that a bunch of the boys enjoy taking pictures with and carry around after games. He’s sort of like a dog.
If I weren’t playing rugby…: I would probably be running track or just lifting. I enjoy staying active and running is a strong suit of mine.
Pregame meal: I love having spaghetti with my Mom’s homemade sauce. It’s an Italian family recipe — toast up some garlic bread and throw some Parmesan on top, nothing could be better.
Post-win celebration: Definitely to hang out with the people you won with. If the boys have energy for it, I love going on adventures with Curtis, making sure just to have a good time.
Pump-up music: I love rap/hip-hip, both new and old-school stuff. Pump-up song is definitely “C.R.E.A.M,” by the Wu-Tang Clan.
My pre-game ritual: I just say a little thank you to the big man upstairs for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love.
Biggest rival on the pitch: At this point our only real rival is Monte Vista. They are a first-year team as well, so the when we play them it can go either way.
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