One of the things Franklin senior attackman Ben Kaestner enjoys most is helping others. He's bagged food for the Reisterstown Crisis Center, participated in the Crop Walk for Hunger and was a volunteer cleanup worker for Historic Glyndon Inc.
As a team captain, Kaestner's final lacrosse season has been ideal because the Indians have a roster filled with underclassmen who have followed his lead. After losing their first three games, the Indians have won three straight to even their record at 5-5. Kaestner, who leads the team with 21 goals and 13 assists, is expecting the team to continue the positive surge with the playoffs fast approaching.
In addition to three varsity lacrosse seasons, Kaestner also played on the golf team this fall, capturing the District 6 championship. One of his most memorable golf experiences came when he carried clubs for Iraq War veterans as a caddie for a pro-am tournament at Baltimore Country Club. A member of the National Honor Society, he maintains a weighted 4.41 GPA and is set to attend Delaware, where he plans to study either political science or business and continue playing sports at the club level.
How is the lacrosse season going so far?
We started out a little rough, lost a few games early, but we've gone on a win streak and have been playing better. We have a young team with a lot of sophomores and juniors starting, so we're really trying to develop them and grow as a team, which I think we've definitely done.
What do you enjoy most about lacrosse?
I just really enjoy being around my teammates. It's not an easy sport — you really have to put your time into it to get benefits out of it. You really have to work as a team to play well in lacrosse. We've played teams that have great individual players, but if they don't have a supporting cast, then the team is not going to go anywhere. You need to work the ball around and rely on each other, which makes it really fun.
How difficult is the mental part in golf, and how does it help you away from the game?
It can be tough. Like in districts, I started out with a double bogey, but I knew it was a long 18-hole tournament, so I just remembered that it's about the next shot and taking one shot at a time. You're going to mess up sometimes, nobody is perfect, so you just have to fight through it and keep working hard. That goes right into life. At school, you're not always going to get an 'A' on a test, so you just have to go back the next day and study harder.
How do you deal with adversity on the golf course?
I just try to take a deep breath and slow everything down because if you keep playing fast, your mistakes are just going to compound. If you take a deep breath, take a step back and wait a little bit, then you may be able to catch yourself before you really mess up.
What did you learn the day you were a caddie for the war veterans?
Some were missing a leg and an arm, and we wondered how they would be able to do this. But it was really the best thing I've seen in golf — how these guys just kept fighting with it and never gave up and were always trying to get better no matter how hard it was. I couldn't imagine swinging with one arm, and they were just always trying to get better and their work ethic and dedication was truly amazing
Coming close to graduation, how are you feeling about this time in your life?
It's kind of emotional. High school has gone by so fast, but I'm ready to experience something new in college and get on with my life, see what I can do in the next four years in college and after that. High school has given me a great education, I've had a lot of fun at Franklin, but I think I'm ready to move on.
What do you want to get out of your last month in high school?
I'm trying to study for my [Advanced Placement] test so I can get a college credit and also trying to enjoy the last few weeks I have left playing organized lacrosse because it's not going to be here forever. Even if I play club lacrosse, it's not the same as practicing every day and playing for your school, so I'm just trying to enjoy every game I have left.
What was it about Delaware?
My parents and I just loved the campus, loved the atmosphere we felt there. It just seemed they had a really good learning environment, and the extracurricular stuff seemed like a lot of fun. It's a good distance away where when you're there you feel like you're not home, but if you want to come home for a weekend, you can easily get back. It seems like a perfect fit for me.
How important is it to you to help others with all the community service you perform?
I've been fortunate in my life to be given a lot of opportunities to do a lot of fun things, and a lot of people don't have the same opportunities, so this is a way to give back to the community. My parents have always told me the importance of that … it's a great way to give back.
What's the best advice you've received?
My dad always tells me that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. So even if somebody may be better than you, you can still work harder than them to try to beat them. I think that's really important not only in sports, but also in a career. Someone may be smarter than you, but if they don't put in the time or effort, they're not going to get anywhere.