Bridesburg proud

Brides­burg res­id­ent re­cog­nized for skills on the pitch and ded­ic­a­tion to the rec.

Caitlin Ham­mer­stein ac­cepts The Christa Lewis Col­lege Schol­ar­ship Award. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CATHY HAM­MER­STEIN

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.” 

You can reach at mkomar@bsmphilly.com.

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