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Rock Solid

Sept. 12, 2011

By Jon Cooper

Sting Daily

When it comes to personality, Kate Kuzma and Jessica Sinclair probably would not be described as two peas in a pod.

Sinclair is bubbly and outgoing. Kuzma is a little more guarded and introverted. Despite their differences, the two have become as close as sisters and now, as seniors, the “sisters” will serve as big sisters for Georgia Tech Softball in their final Spring.

“She’s very direct. I like to make people happy. So, I guess I’m not as direct as she is,” said Sinclair. “We kind of balance each other very well. You could say we’re kind of like sisters. We fight like sisters sometimes but we’re always there for each other. We’ve helped each other through some pretty hard times the last couple of years. It’s good to have someone who understands you as well as we understand each other.”

Those hard times have been the result of injuries, which have hampered each of their playing careers. Kuzma, who splits time between catcher and left field, is playing with a shoulder that can only be healed via surgery and, thus, won’t be healed until after her collegiate career is over. It’s something she’s played with for several seasons and will stick it out for one more.

Sinclair tore the ACL in her left knee at the end of her sophomore season. She rehabbed through it, came back and was having a career- best season (12 homers and .322 average were both career highs) then tore it again in practice just prior to the start of the ACC Tournament as a junior. She is rehabbing, again, with hopes of starting to hit in November, and contributing in any way she can once cleared to play.

Softball Head Coach Sharon Perkins has tremendous respect for her seniors and their handling of adversity.

“They show a lot of heart all the time. It’s not easy in either one of their situations,” said Perkins.

As they deal with the aches and the pains and the progress and the setbacks, they do so together, rooting for each other and propping each other up physically and mentally.

“It’s always good to be able to come home from practice and if you need to talk or if you’ve had a hard day of practice or you’re upset — especially with our injuries, that they hold us back, or we’re having a hard time with them — that there is always someone who is understanding of what you’re going through because we’re going through almost similar situations,” said Sinclair. “Sometimes it’s hard to deal with. So it’s good to know that you have a best friend that understands you personally and knows what you’re going through.”

“She’s definitely a person that I lean on whenever I’m going through a tough time,” said Kuzma. “She knows what to say. She’s grown up with three other siblings and a big family. So she knows how to make the tears stop, make you smile and make you feel better about your day.

“I’m not really good with that stuff just simply because whenever I know I’m struggling I don’t want to really show anybody,” she added. “She’s really the only one on the team that I’ve ever showed that to. It’s a learning thing for me now that I’m like, ‘Wow, she’s a great friend. This is what a real friend needs to do for somebody.’ So there have been times when she has struggled throughout the years and I’ve just been the person to hug her, just to make her feel better.”

While both Sinclair and Kuzma went to high school in Georgia — Sinclair went to Lassiter, in Marrietta, while Kuzma went to Northgate in Sharpsburg — they didn’t meet until their official visit, during which they were roommates.

“We kind of hit it off,” Sinclair recalled. “We realized that we’d be good roommates and we could live together well, so we’ve been roommates ever since.”

Both Kuzma and Sinclair realize they have one shot left to accomplish something special at Georgia Tech.

“I kind of take it day by day, see what I can do,” said Sinclair. “I’m going to do as much as I can for the team. I’m going to go as hard as I can in rehab to get ready for the season and if I’m ready, I’m ready. I’m going to be out there supporting or playing whenever they need me to do.”

“It’s kind of difficult but at the same time it’s exciting,” said Kuzma. “We’ve been playing this game since we were like six. This is potentially the last year that most of us are ever going to play again. Softball’s been a huge part of my life. Pretty much every life experience I’ve ever had, it’s been a part of it in some way, shape or form. It’s definitely sad but at the same time, this is the year to go all out, all or nothing.”

There Is no doubt Kuzma and Sincliar will be there for each other all the way through, regardless of how it turns out.

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