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Our Lady of Mercy, Class of 1976 gathered Sept. 17 at the Daly City school. “We met in classroom 5B for a meet and greet, attended Mass together, then headed to the church hall for dinner and dancing,” said classmate Eileen Murray Grealish.

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Playing sports ‘gift from God’ SI kicker says
October 18th, 2016
By Tom Burke

Claire Dworsky has been playing soccer since age 3. Now a junior at St. Ignatius College Prep and with years of experience putting the ball where she wants it, she is place-kicker for the SI varsity football team.

Claire has considered football a possible sport for her since she was “little,” she told me: Her dad always made time for them to go out for a catch and her mom’s car always had a few “balls rattling around in the back” so practice was always near.

A soccer coach along the way noticed how Claire was kicking goals from long distances and said “kicking field goals” might be next. “I asked my parents to take me out to the football field after a soccer game last year, and I was able to kick pretty easily from the 30,” Claire said. She then asked SI varsity football coach John Regalia for a tryout. “He told me I would have to learn the playbook, lift weights, learn a defensive position, and attend all the practices,” Claire said. In her new role for the first time Aug. 27, she successfully kicked for three extra points.

“It’s a lot of pressure, the first time I stepped up to kick my knee was shaking,” Claire said. “But you get used to it, you learn to trust yourself and trust your line to protect you and trust your team.”

“Honestly, being a girl isn’t that big a deal, it’s about skills and being willing to work,” Claire said. “Our football team’s mission statement is ‘A relentless pursuit of competitive excellence’ and that means a lot to me. I love my teammates like brothers.”

Claire said football has “made me a stronger soccer player, and a better person.”

Claire said if given the chance she’d play football in college. “Playing at the college level is super challenging. There are a few women who have played. I would love to try.”

Claire is no stranger to contact sports and says soccer is certainly one. “It gets physically rough. There is aggressive play and no pads. So playing football isn’t completely unfamiliar. The boys are a lot bigger, faster, and tougher so we try to keep me out of most tackling drills. I’ve been knocked down and it hurts, but everyone supports you and helps you up.”

Claire has her eye on studying engineering and medicine. “I hope to work with disabled vets, athletes, and children. Mobility makes such a huge difference for quality of life. Because I was born in an orphanage in Kazakhstan I had rickets and malnutrition, I was really sick when my parents adopted me and brought me to San Francisco. The orphanage didn’t expect me to be able to walk or even stand because my legs had stopped working. But the amazing American medical system and my parents’ hard work got me back my legs. For me playing sports is a gift from God. I’m grateful every day that I can walk, and kick the ball and enjoy my life.”

Claire is the first young woman in the history of the school to play on SI’s Wildcat football team. Claire’s parents are Deanna Hodgin and Philip Dworsky.

THE DOCTOR IS IN: Welcome at Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton to Dr. Sara Gandy, new director of campus health and wellness. “In this newly created role, Dr. Gandy will guide the development of a long-term strategic health and wellness plan for students across all divisions, evaluate school culture, recommend and help implement best practices in child and adolescent mental healthcare, and create a comprehensive parent education program that is aligned with the school’s mission, is responsive to timely trends, and relays the most current research in child and adolescent development,” the schools said in a statement. A graduate of the University of Florida, College of Medicine, Sara completed residencies in pediatric neurology and adult and adolescent psychiatry with Stanford Hospital and has been serving adolescent through geriatric patients for more than 20 years. Sara is an associate clinical professor with Stanford University School of Medicine.

I have proudly joined the ranks of senior citizen via these self-proclaimed rites of passage: Early bird specials are now my meal of choice and when I dine out I am leaving with all the Sweet and Low I can find on my and nearby tables.

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From October 20, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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