Molly Gorczyca’s Journey as a Scholar-Athlete and Ferocious Fighter

Molly Gorczyca waves to the crowd with support from her Rowan Field Hockey teammates. - Photo courtesy of Molly Gorczyca

Molly Gorczyca is more than just a student at Rowan; she is vibrant, engaging, and multi-talented.

As an athlete on the women’s field hockey team at Rowan, she received the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) All-Academic Honorable Mention in 2018 and was named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association National Academic Squad. At just 21 years old, she is a dual major in marketing and supply chain and logistics from Hackettstown, New Jersey.

Gorczyca’s field hockey teammates have become good friends, and when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, everyone came together to show Gorczyca just how much she means to them.

“When I was diagnosed, right before I went in for my transplant, my team held this huge event called ‘Molly’s Detour,’” Gorczyca said. “Athletics [department] made all these shirts and so many people came, and I was able to stand on the field and they called my name out and I was able to wave.”

“That is just something that I am going to hold with me for the rest of my life. An event like that, and the fact that they were so kind and to do something like that for me, was such a nice thing, and I think that’s probably one of the best memories I have even though it was a tough time,” she said.

With fall sports resuming practice sessions, Gorczyca and her teammates are now able to get back into the swing of things.

“It’s so nice to get back into something normal,” Gorczyca said. “With those two hours at practice, even though it’s masks and social distancing, it’s still a piece of normal that is coming back into life. It has been so amazing being able to do that again.”

As a student-athlete, it can become challenging to balance both worlds but Gorczyca has found a middle ground that works best.

“At first, it’s hard because it’s time-consuming, but when you figure out your schedule it honestly helps, and it gives you a break from school,” she said.

Acute myeloid leukemia is an extremely rare cancer in young adults, especially student-athletes. Gorczyca recently received a bone marrow transplant with her younger brother, Tyler, a first-year student at Rowan, as her donor. Matching 100% with Gorczyca’s bone marrow, it was inevitable that Tyler would do what he could to help his sister.

Gorczyca reached out to her now-boyfriend, Ryan Smith, after reading an article about his battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Not only did they live and go to colleges two hours apart, but they were also receiving treatment in hospitals right next to each other. After staying in touch and visiting each other twice in the hospital, they have been a couple for seven months.

Molly Gorczyca (left) and her boyfriend, Ryan Smith (right). Gorczyca reached out to Smith after reading an article about his battle with acute myeloid leukemia and discovered they were receiving treatments in hospitals right next to each other. – Photo courtesy of Molly Gorczyca

In October, Gorczyca tweeted a photo of her and Smith as part of the “how it started/how it’s going” trend, which has since received over one million likes. Never could she have imagined just how big it would get.

“I tweeted it and woke up the next day and it hit 50,000 likes. And then it got onto Instagram and that’s when it kind of blew up,” Gorczyca said. “I think the first big thing to post it was Complex. And then once Complex posted it, my Twitter and my Instagram both started going crazy.”

Meeting Smith while they were both battling something so difficult has been somewhat of a silver lining for Gorczyca.

“You’re not looking for a relationship or even making friends out of it. You just want to get through it and get on with it, but I’m really glad that something so good can come from something so bad,” she said.

After she graduates in the fall of 2021, Gorczyca will see where life takes her.

“I haven’t really set my heart onto anything, and I think I’m fortunate because with a business degree, there’s so many avenues you can go,” Gorczyca said. “I feel like once I graduate, I want to investigate more on things that I can do.”

“Time continues. You will not be stuck where you are forever. There is always going to be ups and downs, but every down will end, and up will come,” Gorczyca said.

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