It wasn’t just another game.
“To know her was to know what the phrase, ‘Hardest worker in the room,’ means,” said Melissa Sharpe, Springfield College field hockey head coach. “Kristina’s death is not to be in vain. Tonight, we dedicate this game to her and we will play in her honor. We will make people aware of the terrible loss that is suicide. We will play as hard as we can. We will all be the ‘hardest workers in the room’ tonight.”
On Friday, Oct. 5, the Springfield College field hockey team took on Smith College. The game was played in remembrance of Kristina Krull, a 2016 graduate of Springfield College, whose untimely passing occurred this past July.
Krull earned a degree in Applied Exercise Science and was a former standout on both the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams, and was honored as the Springfield College Female Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2016.
The team took Stagg Field with heavy hearts and puffy eyes, following what proved to be an emotional pregame speech in the locker room, where Sharpe and the seniors explained to the underclassmen how Krull is best remembered.
“To this day, she is probably one of the most inquisitive and curious players that I have ever coached,” said Sharpe. “She wanted to know why we were doing each drill, why each corner [play] was designed the way it was. She analyzed and asked questions, and that is the irony of this all. The woman who had so much knowledge, so much potential, such a good heart, would be the one to leave us all with so many questions, many of which we will never have the answers to.”
Senior captains Emily Drake and Amanda Nusbaum shared a few of their personal favorite memories of Krull. It was then that teary eyes and shaky voices transformed into great big smiles and subtle laughter.
“There was a game, I don’t even know if we were winning or not, but I just could never forget this goal,” said Drake. “All of a sudden I see her [Krull] run down the left side of the field, stick her stick out, and score top corner in the left side of the post. She literally came out of nowhere, and she was like, ‘I didn’t even mean to do that.’ She came from probably our defensive 30-yard-line and ran all the way to the goal-line and scored, all in a matter of 30 seconds, not even… She never gave up on anything.”
Even as a senior, although Krull came back for preseason a little late, the moment she stepped foot on campus, she made no excuses.
“What we used to have [for fitness tests] was a timed mile, timed two mile, the hybrid, 300-yard shuttles, and the ‘9 in 4,’ and we did that within the span of the first week. She came in and she did it in an entire day, passed every single one of them, and then jogged down to our practice and did the entire practice,” explained Nusbaum. “If it was me, I would’ve needed a stretcher and I would’ve been at Baystate for the rest of the day.”
The team then switched gears and prepared to take on Smith.
“I know it’s a somber night, it’s a sudden shift to go out to ask you to play really hard after something like this, but we’re going to need to do it,” said Sharpe.
On the bench hung Krull’s former jersey No. 5.
On the sleeve of each player’s warm-up shirt laid a No. 5.
On each stick stuck an “S” logo with a white No. 5.
On the team’s heart was one goal: play for Krull.
A moment of silence was held in Krull’s honor, at which point the field hockey seniors stepped forward to be joined by the women’s lacrosse seniors at center field prior to the playing of the national anthem.
Then, it was game time. Unfortunately for the Pride, it wouldn’t be the outcome they had hoped.
Smith came out strong and set the tone right from the start, beating the Pride to 50-50 balls, passing around them, and out-scoring Springfield 5-0. The Pride now fall to a record of 2-2 in NEWMAC competition, and 7-4 overall.
It appeared that the intense emotions of the night proved to get the best of the Pride.
“Individually, each person needs to take care of their own preparation for a game and not rely on other people to set the tone and not count on one person to do any one thing on the field,” said Sharpe. “They all have to prepare themselves to be ready for anything. We were not individually prepared tonight.”
While the Pride were unable to earn the longed-for win for Krull, the team did raise awareness of a much larger topic.
“Suicide is something that’s not talked about enough. It’s something that has a terrible stigma, and it’s something we as a field hockey team, by having this today, are taking a step to make aware. We are making a difference,” said Nusbaum. “Other teams hesitate when they come to the word ‘suicide.’ It’s something that needs to be in our regular vocabulary.”
Springfield College has a variety of resources for its student body, including the counseling center, where our licensed counselors can help with any of the following issues: anxiety, relationship conflicts, eating disorders, homesickness, issues of sexual identity, suicidal ideation, family issues, or coping with loss.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, just under 45,000 Americans die by suicide.
Everyone can help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for anyone in need, and best practice for professionals. The Lifeline may be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
Photo courtesy of Daniela Detore