This was supposed to be the ultimate field hockey season for Westminster senior Kristen Pavlik.
But the girl with a zest for life and field hockey has found herself on the sidelines all season, serving as team manager and public-address announcer for home games.
A chronic stress fracture of the lower left leg ended her high school career after one season as a forward on Westminster's unbeaten junior varsity.
Pavlik was preparing for a second season on the junior varsity when doctors informed her she would not be able to play high school field hockey anymore.
"They told me the muscles in the back of my leg were far more developed than those in the front of my leg and when I run, it puts too much pressure on the front of my leg," said Pavlik.
"I was devastated. I love field hockey. I cried a lot and it took me most of that season to get over it."
Pavlik said the muscles in the back of her leg were overly developed because of seven years of tae kwon do training, in which she has been awarded a black belt.
The bad news came right before the first game of her sophomore season, but she continued to dress for all the games that season and held hope of playing again.
"I exercised and tried to build up the front of my leg but it [stress fracture] kept coming back," she said.
But Pavlik couldn't turn her back on field hockey. She decided to be the team manager for the Westminster varsity during her junior and senior years.
And no matter how much she longs to be on the field with her former teammates and friends, Pavlik has not let her disappointment interfere with her dedication as manager.
She knows all the stats of the players, keeps perfect records during a game, often explains the game to fledgling managers and serves as PA announcer for home games.
It's been a perfect fit for Pavlik and Westminster co-coaches Sue Hooper and Brenda Baker.
"Hooper and Baker are great," said Pavlik. "We're all so close on this team no matter what our job is. I love the team. We're like a big family. No other sport at the school is like that. A special girl plays field hockey at Westminster."
Hooper said it was unfortunate that Pavlik never played a varsitygame.
"She was a pretty good player," said Hooper, who has guided the Owls to four state 4A championships and one runner-up appearance. "And she's been very loyal as a team manager. Most girls wouldn't want to stay around a team if they couldn't play again. Kristen is a tremendous person. She'll do anything to help us. I can rely on her all the time."
Pavlik began playing field hockey in the fourth grade when her neighbor Mindy Manolovich, an outstanding player for Westminster, wanted Pavlik to practice with her.
"She was in the eighth grade and I was in the fourth," said Pavlik. "She was really good and I began to like the sport."
Now, more than two years after her high school career ended, the Westminster senior is beginning to play indoor field hockey once a week because there isn't as much running and involves only one day instead of five a week.
That has helped a little but the urge to play on the varsity often hits Pavlik as she watches her teammates head for another state tournament.
"I can always wish I were playing again," she said wistfully.