Stark is Hastings' Athena winnerAthletes like Kaitlin Stark don’t come around very often, according to her coaches at Hastings High School. Stark, this year’s Athena Award winner at HHS, is a two-sport athlete. She’s been a captain on both the hockey team and the softball team and her graduation this spring will be tough on both programs.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Athletes like Kaitlin Stark don’t come around very often, according to her coaches at Hastings High School. Stark, this year’s Athena Award winner at HHS, is a two-sport athlete. She’s been a captain on both the hockey team and the softball team and her graduation this spring will be tough on both programs.
Hockey coach Jeff Corkish was at the recent banquet where Stark was honored, and had nothing but great things to say about her and her parents, Robin and Lori Stark.
“It was nice to be able to sit at a table with Kate’s parents and see the pride in their faces,” Corkish said.
For softball coach Dean Robinson, the last eight years have been spent coaching Stark. He began coaching her when she was playing under-10 softball.
“Kate has been a huge part of the softball program’s success and she has been one of the most consistent players I have coached,” he said. “She is one of the best team players as well, which is one of the reasons she has been selected team captain for the second year in a row. Kate works very hard in practice and teammates realize this and they want to do the same thing. Kate keeps her teammates in check. She has been an honor to coach and will be very missed after this season.”
Stark was told by athletics director Tom Johnson that she won the award, and she said it was “really exciting” to learn of the news.
“It was great just knowing I got to be named as one of the top athletes in our school,” she said.
When asked why she thinks she won the award, Stark was at a loss for words.
“I don’t know,” she said with a laugh. “I always work hard, I guess.”
This fall, Stark will continue her softball career at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
“It’s a small school, and I like that everything is within walking distance,” she said.
She plans to major in packaging engineering.
Her coaches are certain she will go on to lead a productive life.
“When you get the helmet off of Kate you discover a very mature and well-rounded young lady,” Corkish said. “She is one of those kids you would say has her head on straight. She understands what she has to do in order to be successful. I have really enjoyed teaching and coaching Kate over the many years in the high school and her being a part of the hockey program.”
On the softball side of things is where Stark’s happiest moment in blue and gold has come. She was a big part of the state tournament championship last season, serving as a team captain and a starting outfielder.
“That was amazing,” she said of the state title. “The team that I played with was awesome. To win with that group of girls…”
Stark said her parents have always supported her, and she appreciates that.
Corkish had positive things to say about Robin and Lori Stark, too.
“These are two people who over the years put their trust in her coaches and let us do our job,” Corkish said. “They supported Kate by simply being there for her during all her games, home and away. I have never heard a negative word out of their mouths about Kate or any other player, just positive comments and cheering. They are parents who trusted the coaches to do their jobs during the time we spent with their daughter and if all parents were like these two there would be a lot more coaches seeking jobs to work with kids.”