It was a busy morning Wednesday in the George Washington High School gymnasium, and it was proof of the positive direction the Patriots’ female sports programs are going.
Five athletes signed to continue their respective careers in college with golfer Torren Kalaskey (Marshall), soccer player Darien Ball (Shepherd) and volleyball players Tessa Wyner (Virginia Tech), Keatan Broughton (West Virginia) and Ashley McClung (Gannon) all giving speeches and signing on the dotted line.
Those five represented the fall sports programs for GW and each was introduced by a coach before going to the podium and speaking for a minute themselves.
“It makes me so happy,” Wyner said. “I know all of them and I know how hard they work. The fact they’re going somewhere shows how hard they’ve worked. It’s 2017, there’s not a whole lot of gender bias out there, but some people still think girls can’t do this or do that. It’s just a representation of how girls don’t have limitations either. We have challenges, but we break through them just like a guy athlete would.”
Wyner was the West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year in 2016 in volleyball and also the West Virginia Sports Writers Association Player of the Year. She ends her GW career as the school’s all-time leader in kills with 1,702 and, along with Broughton and McClung, was part of an extremely successful senior class that was part of a state championship in 2015, a state runner-up in 2016 and another trip to the state tournament this year, where the Patriots fell in the first round to Hedgesville.
“We’re all playing travel together, thank goodness, because when we finally do have to separate from each other it’s going to be really difficult,” Wyner said. “We’re like family.”
Kalaskey won’t face the same kind of difficulty. Last season, all but one of her teammates were boys. One of them, Joseph Kalaskey, is her younger brother, who she will likely see on a regular basis no matter where college takes her. But Kalaskey is looking forward to a teammate she will have, Fuzzy Vance from St. Joseph, who signed with Marshall on Tuesday in a ceremony Kalaskey attended. The two will room together next year in Huntington.
“We’re so excited,” Kalaskey said. “We live an hour away so we don’t get to hang out much, mainly at tournaments. But now that we’re going to Marshall together and rooming together, we’ve gotten so much closer. We’re excited about getting a room, finding the dorms, getting the dorm stuff and pushing each other to golf together. We always said if you combined our golf games, we’d be really good.”
Kalaskey said that for much of her career, she didn’t harbor ambitions as lofty as going to Marshall to compete in Division I golf.
But over the past couple of seasons, with the help of swing coach Barry Evans, Kalaskey’s scores continued to fall and improve, and Thundering Herd coach Brooke Burkhammer, a former standout at Cabell Midland and Campbell University, took notice.
“I don’t think I ever really reached out to her, because I was intimidated, I didn’t think she’d want me,” Kalaskey said. “I was supposed to go on a visit somewhere in Indiana and Brooke said, ‘Just come here first and see how you like it.’ I loved the campus, I loved her and the team is great. After that visit I was sure.
“[My family is] WVU fans, but they said they’d wear some green for me.”
Kalaskey was the Callaway Junior Tour female golfer of the year a summer ago, was the medalist at the Class AAA Region 3 tournament and finished just outside the top 10 at the state tournament in Wheeling.
Ball had 16 goals and 21 assists this year before leaving the team just before sectional tournaments began.