Mount Union junior Kristen Gromes (Navarre/Fairless) will play for USA Athletes International in the 2012 Curaçao Friendship Series on the island of Curaçao from June 4-June 11. Gromes was one of 14 softball players chosen to represent the USA as a player and ambassador of the sport.
Gromes, who also plays volleyball at Mount Union, was excited when she received her invitation to tour the island back in December. "An opportunity like this is something every athlete dreams about, and to be presented with a choice to participate, I was honored and overwhelmed," Gromes said.
"I get to represent my school, my state, and my nation in a foreign country while playing a sport I love. And I will be spending an entire week on an island in the Caribbean, doing activities that I have only ever hoped to do." Gromes said that she is "excited to experience a new culture and meet girls from across our nation who share my passion."
Mount Union head coach Sandy Douglas recommended Gromes to play for USAAI this summer. According to its website, "USAAI athletes are a select group of elite athletes that represent their team, schools, country and USAAI while they are overseas, and we choose to invite only those we feel will do this with the class, integrity and character of a true athlete. We ask the coaches to make their recommendations based not only on athletic ability, but also on depth of character, leadership ability, and scholastic efforts."
Gromes possesses qualities that make her a natural fit for the organization. Aside from athletics, she has is involved with several campus organizations. She has taken an active role as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, helping with the campus-wide Raider Relief and Hugs for Haiti campaigns over the past few years. Gromes is also active in the service-oriented Alpha Phi Omega co-ed fraternity that volunteers on campus and in the community. Other organizations she is a member of include Pi Mu Epsilon, Alpha Lambda Delta, and Association of Women Students.
A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District and three-time Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference selection, Gromes exemplifies what is meant by 'student-athlete.' She maintains a 3.88 grade point average as a double-major in mechanical engineering and art. A natural leader, she has been named a team captain the past two years.
Gromes also excels on the softball field. An All-OAC selection the past two seasons, she tied for the conference lead with six triples while ranking among the top five in on-base percentage and walks. Gromes hit .353 on the season along with 42 hits, seven doubles, four home runs, 14 RBI, 36 runs, and eight stolen bases. She was also among the top defensive players in the conference as she led the team with a .986 fielding percentage and rarely had opposing third base coaches challenge her cannon arm from center field.
The Curaçao Friendship Series will match the USAAI squad against teams from the Caribbean island. These games will be played at a stadium near the capital city of Willemstad.
USAAI is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving amateur athletes and coaches the opportunity to participate in international Olympic-style sporting events throughout the world, while also allowing them to broaden their educational and cultural knowledge of the world through the experience. It began its international competition in 1992 and currently fields teams in 15 sports that compete in 25 countries worldwide.