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Oct. 28, 2006

by Missy Jenkins
Student Assistant, UVa Athletics Media Relations

A popular song suggests that “one” is the loneliest number. For Katherine Blair, the goalkeeper of the Cavalier field hockey team, being lonely isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“It gets lonely when you’re on a good team, and all the action is at the other end,” Blair said. “In past years, I’ve had quite a lot of action. This year, we’ve done much better, but I’m still getting plenty. The lonely days are the good days. You want your team to be at the other end.”

While Blair, a fourth-year redshirt from Louisville, Ky., may get lonely in the backfield, she makes sure that she is paying attention to what is happening in the game. However, that’s beena new focal point since getting to college.

“I hate to admit this, but in high school I used to draw in the dirt with my stick and sing to myself, which obviously would be completely unacceptable now,” Blair said. “On the collegiate level, a game can change so quickly; I just really try to keep focus and make sure my defenders are still organized and focused if there were a transition or turnover.”

Blair started playing field hockey during her freshman year of high school, though she was reluctant to play goalkeeper. She has since had a change of heart.

“When I played soccer I was a forward, and I just never thought about the goalie at all,” Blair said. “It was just all about me scoring. Being a goalie has shown me that really every position has a huge impact on the game. A goalie can keep a team in the game.”

Blair has kept her team in many games with an impressive save record during her UVa career. The key to that record is communication.

“Communication is more important than anything else,” Blair said.

Teammate and starting midfielder Mia Link played with Blair on the Under-21 team that placed seventh at the Junior World Cup. Link agrees that Blair’s strong play and communication help to hold the team together.

“As a goalkeeper, Katherine is a major team leader,” Link said. “She starts the communication in the backfield. She also brings composure in difficult situations. When the defense gets disorganized, she is the one to pull them together and fix it.”

In addition to bringing an impressive athletic résumé to UVa field hockey, Blair also brings a lot of personality.

“In the locker room, Kat is the one with the great sense of humor,” Link said. “She is the one always cracking jokes, and laughs the loudest at others. She is also responsible for the Lion King soundtrack on our warm-up mix.”

On the field, Blair sits under 10 pieces of foam padding used to protect her from shots made at the goal she works to defend. While the pieces aren’t heavy, they aren’t the easiest to wash.

“They have these huge washing machines and dryers, so they can throw them in,” Blair said. “But we don’t do that nearly enough, so we smell really bad.”

Link, who only has to worry about carrying her stick, shin guards, and cleats to practice, feels similarly about the smell of Blair’s gear.

“It smells terrible,” Link said. “Before our locker room was redone with air conditioning, we used to have an enormous fan in the middle of the room. Katherine and the other goalies would lay their gear in front of it to dry, and the locker room always smelled like goalies. It was awful.”

As the Cavaliers venture into the ACC tournament and postseason play, Wahoo fans should hope to see Blair lonely on the defensive end of the field … for the right reasons.

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