Mooney graduates, and sisters, will taste international lacrosse competition in Europe.
Three years ago, Victoria and Caroline Krupa landed what they thought would be a terrific job as volunteers for the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup.
They didn't know it eventually would lead them to something bigger.
Victoria Krupa, the older of the two sisters and a 2013 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School, said she assumed they would be handed the role of ball girls or some other low-key assignment when competition began at the Civic Recreation Complex in Oshaua, Ontario, Canada.
Instead, the Krupas were given a more prominent task, keeping live stats. Victoria Krupa watched the fast-paced action, and called out codes to her younger sister, who furiously typed them into the computer.
The atmosphere was unlike anything Victoria and Caroline Krupa, who had been playing lacrosse since they were in third and first grade, respectively, had experienced. They watched the United States win its second-consecutive gold medal with a 19-5 victory against host Canada.
It was in the midst of watching some of the best players in the world play, the two sisters envisioned one day playing lacrosse for the United States.
“It was an unbelievable experience and getting to share that with my sister just made it that much better,” Victoria Krupa said. “Being able to represent your country is something every athlete wants to accomplish and dreams of doing, whether that be through the Olympics, or for lacrosse, through the World Cup.”
The next Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup is still a little more than a year away, but over the next 10 days, Victoria and Caroline Krupa will have the opportunity to represent the United States while playing for American International Sports Team Lacrosse.
Although the American International Sports Team Lacrosse isn't a U.S. national team, it recruits some of the most talented athletes in the country to gain international experience.
On June 17, the GreyHawk Landing residents will board a flight for Paris where they’ll spend two days touring the city and meeting their new teammates. From there, the team will travel to Belgium for its first official practice together and an exhibition game before heading to Amsterdam to begin tournament play June 22.
In addition to playing lacrosse, the girls will have the opportunity to meet players from other countries and learn how the game differs across the world.
“It’s an experience of a lifetime,” said Caroline Krupa, who graduated from Cardinal Mooney in 2015. “No matter how you get there, I think it’s worth taking. Something like this you can’t pass up.”
Victoria Krupa, who is a goalie, received an invitation to play for AIST Lacrosse after her college coaches at Huntingdon College, where she is going to be a senior in the fall, recommended her for the team.
“Not everyone can play on those (Olympic and World Cup) teams because of the talent level and how selective they are,” Victoria Krupa said. “I think the fact that AIST offers something like this for athletes who don't have opportunities to play on a larger world stage is amazing.”
Shortly after Victoria Krupa accepted an invitation, it was announced that the team still needed a few more players to fill out its roster. Their mother, Paula Krupa, approached Victoria Krupa about the possibility of Caroline Krupa playing as well.
Caroline Krupa, a defender, couldn’t think of anything better than representing the United States alongside her sister, but she wanted to make sure her sister was alright sharing the spotlight.
“We’ve always been stuck together our whole lives,” Caroline Krupa said. “We’ve always been lumped together, and I knew this was something she really wanted to do on her own.”
Ultimately, it didn’t take long for Victoria Krupa to agree.
The two sisters haven’t played lacrosse together since Victoria’s senior year at Cardinal Mooney.
“I never thought this day would come, especially since we’ll be playing against each other in the fall,” Victoria Krupa said. “We always worked well together on the field. We call it our twin telepathy even though we aren’t technically twins. Being able to play with each other one more time is exciting.”
The Krupas began playing lacrosse while living in Philadelphia. Their mother, Paula Krupa, played college lacrosse for Ursinus College, in Collegeville, Pa., where she has since been inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
“She set the bar really high with us, but she never forced us into playing lacrosse,” Caroline Krupa said.
Shortly after moving to Bradenton when Caroline Krupa was 8 years old, Paula Krupa started Lady Manatee Lacrosse, which consisted of six girls, including her two daughters. The girls practiced together on the soccer fields in GreyHawk Landing.
The two sisters joined Lax Maniax in middle school and continued to play for the travel organization throughout high school.
“Lacrosse players are in a league of their own,” Victoria Krupa said. “It’s such a tight-knit community of people and everyone who plays, coaches, officiates, is doing it all for the love of the game. We've broken down so many barriers, especially in the south, as we grow the sport. It's just fun to see how much it's picking up.”
In addition to playing for AIST Lacrosse, Caroline Krupa also is preparing for a change of scenery. After spending her freshman year at Seton Hill University, in Greesburg, Pa., the younger Krupa will be transferring to the University of Montevallo, in Montevallo, Ala., 45 minutes away from her sister at Huntingdon College, in Montgomery, Ala.
While the two sisters won’t be in the same conference, they’ll meet on the field against one another for the first time Oct. 1 with the whole family expected to be in attendance.
“The first thing Victoria said to me when she found out was ‘I guess the state is big enough for the both of us,’” Caroline Krupa said.