multi-sport athlete welcomes the challenges
for student-athletes, finding a balance between their sport and everything else on their college plate is a skill that’s in constant development. but what about doing two college sports?
perona, who plans on majoring spanish, will play lacrosse for molly mccourt while running cross country under the leadership of kathleen strecker.
“it’s always the goal to recruit someone who is the perfect fit for your program, but you also want the program and university to be the perfect fit for them, too,” mccourt said. “kharis is what a rockhurst student-athlete is all about – the person who doesn’t like to be average, whether it’s on the field or in a classroom. i’m very excited to see what she brings to our lacrosse program, but also to our community.”
“we are excited to have her as a dual sport athlete at rockhurst,” strecker said. “kharis has the work ethic and determination to excel at both sports.”
that work ethic and determination has been needed in the last few years as perona recovered from two acl surgeries. the first injury was when she was a sophomore. the second was as a senior during club season while playing lacrosse at the brine national cup in tampa, florida, which was broadcast on espn. perona was there with her st. louis lou fusz athletic teammates and had just played – and starred in – the cup’s pre-tournament all-star game.
that injury and surgery that followed meant she’d miss playing lacrosse her senior spring season at westminster academy. she was coming off a standout year as a junior when she earned academic all-american status for her play on the field and achievements in the classroom.
“it was definitely frustrating,” she said. “it was unexpected, and it brought a lot of anxiety and impatience. it was a really hard thing to go through the first time, but i've already come back one time – i know i'm going to do it again.”
perona scored nine goals in a game – twice – her junior season, helping her get noticed by several universities, including rockhurst.
“i talked to multiple coaches and in the end i was looking at three offers to play lacrosse,” she said. “it became clear i was going to choose rockhurst. i really love coach mccourt. as soon as i met her, i knew she was the type of coach i wanted to play for.
“of all the schools i was looking at i felt like rockhurst had the best academics and would give me the best opportunities.”
the decision to pursue cross country in college came around the same time she was narrowing down her college choices. perona played 10 different sports growing up, but it was letting go of cross country that proved to be too hard.
“it was september of my senior cross country season, and i just wasn't ready to give it up. i really wanted to keep running so i looked up rockhurst’s times and reached out to coach mccourt and asked if she was okay with me trying to run cross country, too. she was totally fine with it, and so was coach strecker. a week later i ended up committing.”
while perona hasn’t been playing on the field she has been recruiting for the hawks. fellow lfa players meghan thomas, abby gerstner, and kyra blondin will be on campus with her in kansas city this fall.
perona has been going through physical therapy and can run cross country for rockhurst in the fall semester. she is cleared to start practicing lacrosse again in december, just ahead of next spring’s season.