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For Maryland field hockey goalkeeper Christina Calandra, an offseason endeavor leads to community impact

One of two talented goalkeepers for Maryland field hockey, Calandra has made her impact felt beyond the field.

Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Miles/Maryland Athletics

Maryland field hockey goalkeeper Christina Calandra arrived at UM Harford Memorial Hospital with a feeling of her hard work being put to use for a cause other than her second-ranked team.

Calandra grabbed three extra large trash bags full of clothes out of her car and dropped them off at the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Program (SAFE) located inside the hospital.

Calandra shares an interchangeable goalkeeping role with teammate Paige Kieft, for a stifling Maryland defense that has pitched four shutouts this season. Calandra has started six games, while Kieft has started 11 for a team with national championship aspirations.

For Maryland head coach Missy Meharg, Calandra’s selflessness on the field has been instrumental in the Terps’ success this season.

“What’s so cool between the two of them is that they want the team to be defended by the best goalkeeper at that time,” Meharg said. “They’re in it together, easy to deal with a new sort of situation, and they want the best for the goalie called upon.”

While her talents on the field are significant, it’s a pair of courses that fueled the star goalkeeper’s desire to lead a clothing drive.

As part of the requirements for a minor certificate, Calandra registered for the “Social Action Sequence,” which requires students to take academic courses HESI320 and HESI321 in consecutive semesters. HESI320 was taken in fall 2020, while she took the latter in spring 2021.

She took the courses taught by Leadership Studies Director Dr. Melissa L. Rocco.

Rocco says the courses are designed to help students get involved with a “social issue of their interest.” Students use the fall semester to target a cause of their choice before taking action the following semester.

“Students are encouraged to think about their own identity and connection to community and how that might align with what they care about and therefore what social issue they want to dive into,” Rocco said.

Calandra chose “two impacts” in the Violence Ambassador Program and led a clothing drive.

The Violence Ambassador Program is a 10-hour course over three-to-four days a week that teaches students how to intervene in power-based violence scenarios. Those scenarios include an employee and manager, player and coach or anyone in a position of authority.

Through the class, she developed the inspiration to lead the SAFE clothing drive.

Calandra, however, was motivated to organize a clothing drive for women who have been sexually assaulted. Since women’s clothing is examined for evidence by the police department, Calandra wanted victims to have comfortable clothing to wear on their way home instead of routine hospital scrubs.

“Sometimes you need a little push. This class was that push for me to get a little more involved in the community,” Calandra said. “It helps you to leave a lasting impact, which I’m grateful for.”

The Massachusetts native began exploring resources for their assistance to gather clothes for the drive.

So, Calandra used the Gossett Center for Academic & Personal Excellence at the University of Maryland to try and gather unused gear from student-athletes to donate to the clothing drive. Along with the help of members at the Gossett Center, she organized a bucket located in the building for students to drop off unfit clothing.

Initially shy at the responsibility, she embraced it, eventually finding comfort in her decision. Anonymous student-athletes dropped off sweatpants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, socks and jackets.

During her freshman year at Maryland, she wore a size medium in Under Armour team apparel. However, due to intense training and physical expectations, Calandra now wears a large. So, she decided to donate her now-too-small clothing to a worthy cause.

She looks forward to continuing to devote her time and energy to helping others in their time of need.

“There are other people in the community that want to make that impact with you and there’s going to be people who are going to want to go with you and make this community a better place,” Calandra said.