KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Courage. Passion. Drive. Determination. Love.
Those are some words that can be used to describe Jordan Klebe.
The Kutztown University women’s lacrosse senior has had a year of ups-and-downs, having to deal with real-life concerns that are difficult to handle for any person.
But she persevered and showed her strength. And because of that, Jordan, and her family, can have smiles on their faces and enjoy her upcoming graduation in May.
Last season, Jordan’s father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of throat/neck cancer, which was hard to detect on scans. After a risky surgery, he needed intensive in hospital chemo for a few weeks. At this time, Jordan made the difficult decision to step away from her team to be with her father during this potentially fatal period of time.
Thankfully, her father recovered well, and the chemotherapy was successful.
It was only two weeks after her father was released from the hospital that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She needed a double mastectomy, as well as outpatient chemotherapy.
When it rains it pours.
“When my dad got sick, that was a little bit overwhelming,” said Klebe. “Because it happened when we were in preseason [last year] and were going hard at practice in preparation for the season. And then I had a full course load with school, and being further away from home, it was just hard. When we found this out, it was just like ‘wow, so what’s the next step?'”
The Bishopville, Md., native’s next step was a difficult one. Even with the support of her parents and brother to continue playing and staying at school, Jordan took a leave from the sport and her second family to take care of her first one.
“I talked with coach [Jackie Stezzi] a lot about what to do and she was so helpful and supportive,” Klebe said. “That was probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life. It did not feel good to leave my teammates and the sport behind especially when we were gearing up to go.”
Jordan was the glue that kept her family together, and helped every step of the way with her parent’s recoveries over the summer. She worked full time and contributed to handling their household bills since her parents had been out of work for so long.
With all of this time away from her team and the sport, it appeared difficult to regain the stamina and grind of being a Division II collegiate athlete.
Despite the time spent away, her teammates elected her to be one of our 2019 Captains.
“Coach allowing me to step away and then come back was probably the best thing that could have happened to me,” said Klebe. “I missed everything and everyone so much. It took me being away to realize what I didn’t have and it’s all a big part of my life.
“The whole time I was away, my teammates were always checking on me. They always had a shoulder for me to lean on. When I came back, they made it feel like I was never gone. I was welcomed with open arms. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Through it all, even with it just being in her first year, let alone a few months on the job with a new team, Stezzi left a lasting image on Jordan, and vice versa.
“Jordan may not have been a regular starter, but she comes to practice every day with a smile on her face, and has one of the best work ethics on the team,” said Stezzi. “She is incredibly positive, no matter what challenges we faced this year. She plays with her heart, and is the captain that the entire team feels comfortable to speak with if they are having issues. She is selfless, never complains, and has never expressed any anger or resentment for the situation her family was in last year.
“I don’t know of many student-athletes that would be able to handle one of these situations with the composure and maturity Jordan did, let alone both of them.”
Jordan and her 2019 women’s lacrosse teammates led the Golden Bears (7-9 overall, 5-7 PSAC) to their best season under Stezzi and one of the winningest seasons in program history. The five PSAC victories are the second most in a season in KU history.
Jordan was a team captain and a four-year member of the Golden Bears and has played in 36 career games. She finished her career with eight goals and seven assists in her four years, including a career-high six goals and four assists this season. At this year’s KU All Sports Celebration, Jordan won the Golden Bear Courage award for her time both on the field and away it. Jordan will graduate in May with a degree in communication studies and minors in PR, professional writing and digital media.