If a friend asks you to join a team because they need players what do you say? Well if you're Katarina Molchen you say yes not once but twice.
When most people hear the town Morgantown the first thing that comes to mind is West Virginia. Molchen is from Morgantown, but the Morgantown she grew up in is right outside of Reading, Pennsylvania.
Molchen grew up playing soccer and gymnastics, but once she went to high school she stopped playing sports. That was until her senior year when her friend asked her to come out for the girls tennis team at Twin Valley High School.
"One of my best friends had been on the tennis team since her freshman year," said Molchen. "She came up to me and was like 'Kat, we really need players and it will be fun and you can leave school early for away games.' I was like sure why not. So, I joined tennis, made varsity and played for one season."
When she was looking at colleges, athletics was not part of her decision. She was looking for a smaller liberal arts school. At Goucher College, Molchen really liked the student-to-teacher ratio and really enjoyed her campus visit.
"I visited Goucher and sat in on ED 104 with Robin Wilson and knew it was a top choice," said Molchen. "I committed on an admitted students day after doing the activities and sitting in on another class. Goucher also offered me many scholarships that helped me with my decision."
Fast forward to her sophomore year when one of the women's lacrosse players said that the lacrosse team was looking for players. Never having picked up a lacrosse stick before, Molchen was up for the challenge.
"Shannon Stull was like 'Kat, we really need players and it's fun and we're going to California," said Molchen. " I was like 'Shannon, I don't know how to play lacrosse.' She had me meet our assistant coach at the time, Taylor Sindall. I met with Coach Taylor and told her I have no idea how to play lacrosse and she said 'That's okay, I'll teach you.'"
Molchen said that she was surprised that she made the team and also nervous because everyone on the team have played a lifetime of lacrosse while Molchen had never touched a lacrosse stick. Molchen was aided by meeting with Taylor multiple days a week where she was taught how to play lacrosse. She says that she had a hard time with the stick skills and even cradling the ball.
"Defense, easy I got it," said Molchen. "Understanding how to play, easy I got it. Actually catching, passing, and cradling the ball. Impossible. I swear it wasn't until this season that I could actually cradle in both of my hands, barely."
The Gophers first game in 2018 was at Neumann University on February 17, 2018. Molchen was in the starting lineup in the defense. She made one turnover in the game.
"I was really nervous, but there was really no way I could mess up because my job for the game was to faceguard," said Molchen. "That was my job for the first handful of games until about halfway through the season when I actually started playing defense."
With 4:28 left in the second half of her second game against Gwynedd Mercy University on February 24, 2018, Molchen registered her first caused turnover and ground ball of her career. She would have a season-high two ground balls against Medaille on March 8, 2018 and a season-best two caused turnovers at Juniata on April 7, 2018. Molchen finished her first lacrosse season with five ground balls, four caused turnovers and a draw control in 15 games including 12 starts.
"My favorite memory from my first season is actually in California," said Molchen. "One day, we forgot our uniforms at the school we just played. That was arguably the most fun day of spring break. Our team spent the day playing games, chilling in the pool, cooking meals together, and watching a movie. We all bonded really closely on that trip. My first season playing is when we added 'family on 6' to the end of our cheer because we really are a family."
Molchen started all 16 games last season and notched her first and only collegiate goal and assist. Goucher had won three-straight games to improve to 4-2 before the season was cut short in 2020. She had eight ground balls and nine caused turnovers in six games and finished her career with 38 ground balls, 30 caused turnovers and two draw controls.
Lacrosse has given Molchen many life lessons. Goucher has been the underdog in her three seasons, but Molchen and the team learned to be fighters.
"The biggest lesson that I have learned from playing lacrosse is that with tenacity, anything can be achieved," said Molchen. "We are a tenacious team, full of tenacious players, and we have defeated many odds to get where we are today."
Molchen is finishing up her time at Goucher and plans to be a special education teacher and hopes to find a job nearby so she can still come and cheer her women's lacrosse teammates. She also has aspirations of working in higher education in teaching or behavioral analysis.
Molchen joined teams in both high school and college because of friends and learned two new sports in the process. She is an example of not being afraid to try new things and in the end gained more friendships and experiences in the process.
"I would say just go for it, try your best, and don't give up," said Molchen. "If you do those three things you will have so much success and you'll get to live an experience of a lifetime with your best friends."