Written by Teryn Brill, USA Field Hockey's Social Media & Digital Marketing Manager
I have always been positioned behind, Katelyn Falgowski. In college, she played on the midfield line and I was part of the defensive unit. Now with USA Field Hockey, she is on the international pitch performing for Team USA and I am the one behind the computer writing about it.
When I received a note in the mail this past November asking me to stand alongside her on the most special day of her life, I immediately said YES! It was an honor to be part of the Ginolfi wedding, not only because it marked the beginning of a chapter in their shared love story but because the day was surrounded by many of those involved with the sport of field hockey. Thank you for letting me be a part of a #GreatParty.
USA Field Hockey would like to send a big congratulations to Kate and Jon!
Wedding Party: Bridesmaids: Carly Aquino, Kerry Falgowski, Jen Ginolfi, Jayme Ginolfi, Jackie Briggs, Meghan Dawson, Teryn Brill; Groomsmen: Ian Scally, Nick Szoke, Steven Mann, Andrew Zayac, Jed Cunningham, Tim Falgowski, Kyle Rudell
It has been said couples that play together, stay together. Two of USA Field Hockey’s very own took the catchy tag line and ran full sprint with hockey sticks in hand to weave a love story worthy of the same spotlight the athletes effortlessly attract while playing on the international pitch. Current U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Katelyn Falgowski and former U.S. Men’s National Team striker Jon Ginolfi will tie the knot at the beginning of May in Lewes, Del. during a fitting patriotic themed wedding. Before the ring, before the ‘I do’, before the white dress and black tux, was a friendship that began 16 years ago.
Let’s take it back to the beginning of it all…
For current U.S. Women’s National Team athlete Falgowski, one can say field hockey is in her blood. Settling with the typical trend of following in her sister’s footsteps, she first picked up a field hockey stick in 1998. After five years, the Landenberg, Pa. native’s advanced skill set and knowledge of the game landed her a place on the Junior U.S. Women’s National Team roster that was traveling to The Netherlands.
Formerly a crucial part of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s offensive attack and captain of the squad, Ginolfi got his first taste of hockey when his best friend at the time was playing. His friend extended the invite to him and his two sisters, together a trio of triplets, for the chance to attend a training session in 1994. It was at the ripe age of 6 that he became hooked. Continuing to compete with his friends in Moorpark, Calif., Ginolfi too landed himself a seat on that very same trip to The Netherlands with the Junior U.S. Men’s National Team.
This takes us to the year 2001, when fate stepped in and pushed the 12-year-olds to meet on that junior tour in The Netherlands. Although the love spark didn’t ignite at this moment, the two became fast friends. This relationship continued and started to grow as Falgowski and Ginolfi were frequently picked for the same Junior National Team tours.
“We were always the youngest ones on the junior teams and this sort of gave us a bond,” commented Falgowski. “We somehow always came across one another on these trips and the friendship continued from there.”
“When we were on those junior trips we always had fun,” added Ginolf. “Being young and traveling the world together brought us close, but it also is a memory we can look back on now.”
Now let’s fast-forward to when the pair was 16 years old…
In 2005, Falgowski and Ginolfi’s field hockey presences on the international stage started to explode with excitement. Falgowski was named to the U.S. Women’s National Team and that same year Ginolfi was named to the U.S. Men’s National Team. The duo repeatedly found themselves together at different tournaments, nationally and internationally.
This trend continued two years later when the twosome found themselves both competing at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although competition was at the forefront of both their minds, being in the same location allowed them the opportunity to continue their close friendship. Stay tuned as this location will prove to be of great importance in the couple’s continued journey.
“It was in Rio 2007 when we really developed a connection with one another,” mentioned Falgowski.
Time ticked on and that fall, Falgowski started her collegiate season and studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. At this point, Ginolfi was still on the west coast training with the USMNT but living on opposite coasts didn’t fade their friendship.
And then life stepped in and again pushed the couple toward one another. The following spring, Falgowski received an Olympic waiver to take a semester off from college to train with the USWNT full-time in preparation for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. As a result, she moved to the west coast to train at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., the then home base of the USWNT, and in turn permitting her to be closer to Ginolfi.
After the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Falgowski would have to move back east to finish her collegiate career and studies. They pushed through the long-distance friendship once and knew they could tackle it again. A sigh of relief came from the realization that field hockey would allow them to cross paths again as it had a habit of doing.
Let’s take a jump to post-London 2012 Olympic Games…
Falgowski finished college and went on to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and with no job obligation keeping her on the east coast and knowing that she still wanted to pursue a career with the USWNT, she moved back to California to be a member of the squad full-time. The cross-country trek also meant one thing, a chance for her and Ginolfi to subtract many miles between them.
Having both senior national teams training in Chula Vista, Calif. meant that the athletes saw a lot of one another. Building off more than 10 years of friendship at this point, Falgowski and Ginolfi decided to take their relationship to the next level.
“We’ve always been really good friends and had a great connection,” added Falgowski. “It wasn’t until this point that we thought it was feasible to be together and the timing was right.”
At the end of January 2013, Falgowski and Ginolfi had their first date. Signified as the true starting point in their love story journey, both knew that it was field hockey that brought them together.
There’s more… distance again…
Officially dating, the couple traveled back to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013 for their respective FIH Hockey World League Round 2 tournaments. This was right around the time USA Field Hockey announced that they were making plans to transplant the USWNT back to the east coast to the Home of Hockey at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa.
Falgowski knew that this minor speed bump of distance wouldn’t be an issue as they did it before and knew they could do it again. Being elite athletes, both understood the demands of the national team settings. Living similar lifestyles, while on opposite coasts, wouldn’t be a problem.
The following year, Ginolfi retired from the USMNT and decided to resume living on the west coast. Some tears were shed but this allowed Falgowski to focus solely on training with the women’s team as the next two years were crucial for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. Every break she received during regeneration weeks, she would always make a trip out west to see Ginolfi.
2015, the year of bigs…
Although they were still living on opposite coasts, 2015 was a big year for Falgowski. The USWNT competed in the Pan American Games and qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. A huge accomplishment for the program and Falgowski, this meant another year of intense and hard training would be at stake to prepare.
The holidays rolled around and being able to spend quality time together meant an opportunity for Ginolfi. The couple decided to go on a walk to a park on the canal in Lewes, Del. With a picturesque background of the water, he popped the question just before Christmas day making it the best Christmas ever!
Rio 2016 and the support…
After celebrating the engagement for a bit, Falgowski knew she had a demanding 8 months ahead to prepare for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This was all while having the bride vibes to jump start her wedding planning.
At the Olympic Games, the USWNT had a historical run and Ginolfi was there to support his fiancé. Post-Olympic Games, Falgowski took a few months off from the squad and the couple lived together in New Orleans, La. This was when the bulk of the pieces of the wedding planning happened for the duo.
The venue was booked, bridal party confirmed and all that was missing was the big day! 2017 could not get here soon enough for Falgowski and Ginolfi. The best match maker in the game might not be a person but rather a stick and ball sport.
“Without field hockey, Jon and I would have never even met each other,” said Falgowski. “Field hockey has given us each other and basically our entire lives.”
One could say from there the rest is history, but we like to believe it is just beginning for this field hockey couple.
Team USA: Current and former members and staff of the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams
This article is featured in the Spring 2017 issue of FHLife magazine. To read more inspiring, knowledge-packed and fun features revolving around hockey, fitness, healthy eating and how to strengthen your game, subscribe to our quarterly publication by clicking here.