Sept. 20, 2007
Rice sophomore Katelyn Ostendorf is in a transitional stage of her college life. The Owls' soccer star is still like a surgeon on defense, efficiently operating in a sometimes frantic setting to get the team out of danger. If Ostendorf's current success on the pitch is any indication, her transition from soccer-surgeon to real life E.R. surgeon will go equally well.
"For a long time now I've known I've wanted to be a doctor, maybe even a surgeon," Ostendorf said. "I worked as a nurse's assistant at a hospital this summer and one of the stations was in the E.R. I was able to work in a lot of different areas and every one of them was a great experience."
Ostendorf's interest in the medical field may not be that hard to trace. Though not even 20 years of age, the Indiana native has already had four knee surgeries before she even came to Rice. The most-recent time her soccer and medical worlds crossed paths was midway through what looked to be a fantastic 2006 season. The team began 2006 at 8-0-1 and beat Texas when the Longhorns were ranked eighth in the country. In the very next poll the Blue & Gray earned a national ranking of their own for the first time in school history.
Everything was going the Owls' and Ostendorf's way. Individually "Koo" (as her teammates call her) had worked her way into 10 starts as a true freshman and had scored goals in wins against Army, Stephen F. Austin and crosstown foe Houston Baptist.
"We got off to a great start," she said. "Then, one-by-one we began to lose players with these unlucky injuries. I thought it was a little odd how many we had (five starters in all) and that it was happening to everyone. I already had four knee surgeries, so I thought maybe I was going to get skipped from getting hurt again."
It turns out Ostendorf was indeed on Fate's list to catch a break, just not the one she was hoping for. Her luck, or lack thereof, was just too easy a target for the injury bug to overlook. While playing well against nationally-ranked SMU, she partially injured her medial collateral ligament (or MCL), one of four ligaments that helps stabilize the knee joint. A veteran of this type of thing, the tough-minded Ostendorf was a pretty fair judge that she had indeed endured worse before. The 5-foot-6 defender returned to the field later that game and with her hard-nose style of play, injured it more and was done for the season.
"It was frustrating not being out there," Ostendorf said. "We were down a lot of players and didn't need any more. Turns out the MCL wasn't that bad and I was back by the end of the spring training. I was playing club by summer."
Ostendorf didn't just casually play club ball over the summer. She led her hometown team from Carmel, Ind., to a perfect record on the way to the Under-20 National Championship. In the final game her team played against a team from Virginia that featured her current Rice teammate Shelley Wong. The Owl teammates were heated opponents for 90 minutes last July.
However, winning the Club National Championship and working in a hospital E.R. were only part of a busy summer. Ostendorf also found time to go with a church group from her hometown to do some mission work overseas. She was part of a six-person group from the Zionsville Presbyterian Church's outreach program that worked with an impoverished rural community in Spain. The group provided educational and social assistance to people in need.
When school is in session about all Ostendorf has time for, other than the demands of her pre-med course load, is Rice soccer. With Rice soccer the sky's the limit.
After a club team national championship, a college national championship for the Owls may be just what the doctor ordered.
"I look up to those guys, they push me every day."
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