She transferred to a new school. Then she racked up huge points for her new team. Then she picked up some high honors for herself as an athlete and as a student. Then she was named captain.
And she still has two years to go.
Junior Kristiina Castagnola, a 22-year-old from Voorhees, New Jersey, transferred to Rowan in 2018 from Penn State University and joined the field hockey program. Since then, her transition onto the team and on the field has been nothing but smooth.
“I feel like everyone’s really welcomed me with open arms,” Castagnola said. “And I just feel like the level of it, it’s still so competitive. It’s just a different style of play.”
Since becoming a Prof, Castagnola has racked up 27 goals and 13 assists for a total of 67 points in 43 games.
She has earned honors such as being added to the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) All-Conference first team, being named NJAC Rookie of the Week four times and earning South Atlantic All-Region second team honors. And that was just in her first year alone.
Then, this past spring, Castagnola was named co-captain of the team, alongside senior back Dayna DeVincentz, a title voted on by her peers.
“It felt pretty good,” Castagnola said. “It was nice to kind of get a little recognition for some of the hard work. But honestly, it’s just a label. I’m more concerned about being able to lead my team.”
However, leading her team this year will be different as the COVID-19 pandemic goes on. With new guidelines put in place for collegiate sports, Castagnola’s new responsibilities as a captain have increased.
She’s now the one to relay information from personnel within athletics, such as Athletic Director Dr. John Giannini, to her team. Whenever someone has a question, Castagnola has the answer.
Such duties can mean a lot more work, but for Castagnola, it means that there is a high level of trust in her from her coaches and her teammates.
“I think I’m really appreciative,” Castagnola said. “It means my coaches saw that I could help lead this team not just in regular times but also these hard times right now.”
As a noted Rowan Scholar-Athlete, Castagnola puts much effort into her major of communication studies when she’s off the field. Although seemingly difficult in theory, juggling her school work and her work as an athlete hasn’t been difficult, thanks to Rowan’s accommodations.
“It’s really easy,” Castagnola said. “There are times where you are like, ‘Oh, am I going to get this done?’ Professors have given me extensions and my coaches let me miss either the beginning or end of practice. They make it known that school is first and foremost.”
She even intends on coming back to Rowan to study for her master’s in higher education, on the administration side. And after that, she hopes to become a head coach and later move on to the Athletics Department, again, right here at Rowan.
For now, as an athlete, her goal is to be able to go out and play field hockey in the spring. Castagnola hasn’t had the opportunity to see her teammates and coaches much in the past months, aside from the occasional Zoom call.
“We’re hopefully starting practice at least next Monday, actually,” Castagnola said. “Which is really exciting. I think we just all want to play with each other again.”
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