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Wednesday, November 14 News

Darien duo leaves lasting legacy

DARIEN—For the past four years, each girls sports season had one glaring aspect in common at Darien.

A duo of six-foot-tall girls dominating the athletic landscape.

When Katie Ramsay and Christine Fiore graduated this past spring, it had an impact across the board, as the duo starred for the soccer, basketball and field hockey teams.

In an age focused on college scholarships, the pressure to specialize in a single sport is high, but that really wasn’t an option for either player.

“I’ve always been really into sports as part of my personality,” Ramsay said. “I had a lot of pressure from coaches going into high school to specialize in either soccer or lacrosse, but I knew I couldn’t do without one of them and I loved both team environments, so I knew I had to continue to play all my sports as long as I could.”

That meant constant, grueling training and punishment to each athlete’s body, but it also meant a clean slate with each changing season.

“What I love about that is each season is a fresh start,” Fiore said. “Every season you’re getting burnt out and then you have three days of recovery and you’re into something new and excited again.”

As it turned out, playing three sports didn’t hurt either player’s chances of playing at the next level.

Both will be playing lacrosse, Ramsay at USC and Fiore at the Naval Academy. The only difference is, for the first time since childhood they won’t be side by side.

“We always joke about how going to college how it’s weird not seeing each other, because we did every single day,” Ramsay said. “Starting mid-summer with preseason soccer to basketball, lacrosse and even playing lacrosse in the summer. So, it was rare I wasn’t seeing her. I respect her so much, she has such a strong work ethic. I really respect her choice to go to Navy. I think that’s amazing.”

Ramsay and Fiore helped lead Darien basketball to a state tournament berth and were instrumental in the lacrosse team’s 100-plus game in-state win streak, taking home FCIAC titles in every year with the program.

But, it’s what they did with the soccer team in 2017 that really stands out.

Behind Fiore in goal, and with Ramsay at the front as a striker Darien advanced to the Class LL semifinals—the farthest they’ve been as a team.

“To finish that way was amazing,” Fiore said. “We made history and that was so cool for us and I’m so proud of that and I’m so sentimental about the team last year and how we did.”

Coming into the season, Wave coach Leigh Parsons knew what he had with Fiore, calling her one of the best in the state and saying he would put her up with any of the goalies he’s seen at his time in Darien—first as a student, then a coach.

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What Ramsay did however was more of a surprise.

“She scored over 20 goals and they were all against top, top teams,” Parsons said. “So, to contribute at that level and score against the strongest teams is so crucial, she scored against No.1 seed Shelton to send us to the semifinals in states.

“She found a way to come up with big goals in big times this year. A striker could have a quiet game and she could for 75 minutes and in the 80th minute score two goals. Her contribution this year was hard to predict. We knew she was capable of it but to do it at the level she did was impressive.”

Not only were both players stars on the field, they were leaders off of it. They were captains in all three sports, and like their playing styles, their leadership styles differed dramatically.

“For a team to be successful, you definitely need both types of personalities,” lacrosse coach Lisa Lindley said. “You need the person who can hold the kids accountable and not be afraid of speaking their opinion and obviously Christine was that way. Katie Ramsay was more of a softer approach and behind the scenes more supportive of building the kids up and making sure they understood what was being asked of them.”

For Fiore, her style is bred from a desire to do one thing—win.

“I have always gone by, if you need help I will be the first to tell you,” Fiore said. “I will not shy away from correcting anything. My goal is to win and I do whatever it takes to do that.”

Her counterpart understood the need for that kind of on-field general, and worked to make sure the younger players were ready for the pressure high school sports demand.

“Everytime Christine spoke to the team you could really feel the passion in her voice and it helped to get the team riled up in that exact moment,” Ramsay said. “Where my style of leadership took place more off the field and in a personal way where people felt that team bond and comfort in an upperclassman friend. I spent extra time at pasta dinner and drove girls home every day and really formed a tight bond with some key players in every sport.”

With their high school careers in the rearview and big things on the horizon, Fiore still can’t help but feel that familiar twinge now that fall is around the corner.

“I’m so sad that soccer season is rolling around,” she said. “I can just picture myself in net in the preseason. But I love lacrosse here, so everything is working out.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

Anthony E. Parelli|Sports Writer, Sports Editor

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