Caitlin Hammerstein is well known for her achievements on the soccer field.
She was selected first team All-Public her junior and senior year at Franklin Towne Charter High School. She received the All-Southeastern Coaches Award and the sportsmanship award from her school.
She was a member of the team that won three consecutive Public League championships and she scored the game- winning goal during one of those championships as a junior.
The Bridesburg resident and senior at Franklin Towne Charter recently added another accolade to her ever-growing collection: the Christa Lewis College Scholarship Award.
The annual $1,500 grant was created in honor of Christa Lewis, who played youth soccer for Vogt C.A. Lewis was fatally stabbed in an incident of teen violence in 1996.
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has recognized players each year since as a statement against the issue and to remember the qualities Lewis embodied.
Players may be nominated by anyone, but must be a high school female senior who will enter college the upcoming year, possess good character, and has contributed to soccer in ways other than playing such as refereeing, coaching or volunteering at their clubs or high school.
For Hammerstein, the award is a testament to where it all began: the Bridesburg Recreation Center.
“This award means a lot to me because I put a lot of time and energy into the rec center,” she said. “I’m probably at the rec more than my house in the summer. Growing up, that was what I looked forward to. I looked forward to going to dance class, going to gymnastics, and especially going to soccer because I love it with all my heart. And I made a lot of my friends that I still talk to today. ”
While Hammerstein has made a name for herself as a forward on the varsity squad at Franklin Towne Charter High School, her love for the game began playing for the Bridesburg Cougars.
Her skills were honed under a handful of coaches over the years including Stan Chrupcala (Cougars) and Brianna O’Donnell (Franklin Towne), but her athleticism was developed well before she stepped foot on a field.
Cathy Hammerstein, Caitlin’s mother, signed up Caitlin, who was 5 at the time, and her younger sister, for dance classes and the day camp program at Bridesburg Rec.
“Caitlin loved it,” Cathy Hammerstein said. “Shortly after dance, all my kids went through the swim lessons, And then she joined the swim team. And she’s in her third year as a lifeguard. So, she basically went up the ladder all the way from 5 years old to now and she just turned 18.”
In addition to dance and day camp, Hammerstein participated in gymnastics and played softball and basketball.
She was also Miss Jackie’s runner.
Cathy worked at the pool during day camp and “whenever I needed something in the back or Miss Jackie needed something in the front, Miss Jackie would call and Caitlin would run back and forth. She would run paperwork or pool supplies. So, she was Miss Jackie’s runner.”
The running would serve her well.
Shortly after starting dance, Caitlin got her first taste of soccer, participating in the in-house tot program with the Bridesburg Cougars and hasn’t stopped playing since.
Aside from participating in the rec programs, when she was old enough, she volunteered at the day camp, worked as day camp counselor, helped teach gymnastics, taught swim lessons and eventually became a lifeguard.
Her desire to help others didn’t go unnoticed.
Bridesburg Rec Center supervisor John McBride nominated Hammerstein for the award.
“Caitlin has been an integral part of the staff, she’s done a great job with swim lessons and the swim teams and has helped with the water show as a coach and participant,” he said. “Her role has been one of growth. She’s a very loyal soccer player. And Caitlin is deserving [of the award] because of her commitment to community. Caitlin represents the very best of Bridesburg, the rec center, the Cougars and the community,”
While Hammerstein has made an obvious impact at the rec, the rec has left an everlasting impact on her.
Although she is undecided where she will attend college, she plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy.
“Volunteering and working at the rec taught me a lot,” Hammerstein said. “It taught me to be patient with people and be more understanding, which will help me in the future with my career. It also taught me how to be independent.”
Hammerstein saved up her earnings as a lifeguard to buy herself a car.
While independence was an added bonus, it’s the intangibles the rec has provided that have had the biggest impact.
“I am very thankful I had the opportunity to be part of the Bridesburg Recreation Center,” Hammerstein said. “It taught me leadership and made me who I am. I was fortunate enough to participate in all these sports and activities and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”