The postgame embrace between Jaime Biskup and Kasey Choma was met with just as many tears as smiles.
Biskup tore her ACL in the first practice of the spring, and the Eastport-South Manor girls lacrosse team lost a potent weapon as a result. The senior bound for Virginia was meant to operate alongside Choma in the heart of the ESM offense, but plans changed rather quickly for coach Becky Thorn.
“I was her first call,” Thorn said. “She was hysterically crying. We calmed her down and I said, ‘Listen, we’ll get through this.’ I told her, ‘You’re going to be a coach now,’ and she ran with it.”
Patrolling the sidelines and giving directions, Biskup looked comfortable during the playoffs in her new and unexpected role. That’s why when ESM won the state Class B championship with a 9-7 victory over Fayetteville-Manlius, Biskup rushed to her best friend to celebrate.
“It means the world, honestly,” Biskup said moments after her team won the title. “It’s so hard watching everyone play and not being in the mix, but they always pick me up and I always pick them up.”
Choma scored 71 goals this season despite being met with a faceguard nearly every game, and she could have had an easier time scoring if Biskup were there to alleviate some of the pressure. But since the news of her friend’s injury, Choma was determined to do what was necessary to make the best of the situation.
“It’s just so hard because she’s my best friend on and off the field,” said Choma, her eyes tearing. “We got pulled up together in seventh grade and we’ve been dreaming about senior year together, winning a state championship.”
Biskup’s commitment to the team never wavered, and the team's commitment to her was just as steadfast. She became a driving force and a key motivator for the Sharks, who wanted nothing more than to win for their captain.
“Everything she tells us, it’s always making us better,” defender Catherine Flaherty said. “She tells us to do one thing, we make the adjustment and it never happens again.
“I think she grew so much watching the game this year.”
Perhaps if there was any positive to take from missing the season, it’s the fact that Biskup was able to see the game a different way. That could be an advantage for her as she heads to college.
“Coaching, it’s such a new perspective of everything,” she said. “I’m excited to get to that next level and finally be able to realize that I see all these new things.”
As the weeks passed, Biskup continued to grow in her role. She eventually ditched her crutches, giving her more mobility when shouting instructions from the sideline. What started as a somber experience quickly became a situation she embraced.
Said Choma: “Although she wasn’t playing, she was a huge part of the team, and I’m so happy to do it for her.”
SHARKS’ ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
vs. Harborfields, 11-2
vs. West Babylon, 8-7
LONG ISLAND CHAMPIONSHIP
vs. Manhasset, 10-9
vs. Canandaigua, 7-4
vs. Fayetteville-Manlius, 9-7