Leah Fron had a tough time trying to compose herself. Fron’s emotions weren’t racing because she had just delivered the game-winning hit on Senior Night.
She was crying because she was looking into the faces of her two best friends – Julia Cipolla and Julia Pfalzer – and thinking about all the miles together during the journey of their lifelong friendship.
“Me and Julia Cipolla were in Pre-K together so we went into Kindergarten together knowing each other and then we met, oh my gosh, I’m going to cry,” Leah Fron said as her two teammates smiled. “Then in Kindergarten we met Julia Pfalzer and we’ve just been inseparable ever since. We have another friend Mia Flitt and we’ve just been a core four throughout everything. Now graduating high school means so much and playing softball with them it just makes it so much sweeter.”
Fron, Cipolla and Pfalzer are all seniors on the Kenmore West Lady Blue Devils softball team. Together, with Mia Flitt, the foursome has forged the type of lifelong bond we all think of when we talk about joining sports teams to make new friends.
“It’s like immeasurable,” Julia Cipolla said as she saw the emotion etched on Fron’s face. “I’ve known them for so long and I know I can always count on them to pick me up no matter the circumstances, good or bad. Especially tonight. It’s really eye-opening to know this is our last (regular season) game together.”
The Ken-Ton quartet has literally gone through every step of life by each other’s side. From youth sports like little league baseball and BSAC basketball to dance class. They’ve always been together. This school year also saw Fron, Pfalzer and Cipolla play basketball together during the winter.
As they reflect on life together, they realize there hasn’t been a day where they haven’t seen or heard from at least one girl in their group.
“We have a group chat. We text every day,” said Pfalzer. “I can trust these guys with anything. I can tell them anything and they’d keep it a secret. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I can’t picture next year, not having the same schedule. I couldn’t get through anything without them. I can’t even explain it. I love them to a point that I can’t even put into words. I’m just so thankful that they’ve stuck with me.”
The strength of that friendship is evident in that even if just two or three of them take part in a sport they don’t drift apart. Their bond remains strong. Going through Herbert Hoover Elementary/Middle School together the girls’ friendship blossomed as they went through the good and bad of growing up. From slumber parties to sharing secrets they would never think to tell anyone else. When high school came nothing changed.
Sometimes in high school, the draw of new friends, clubs and cliques can pull us away from old friends until they become just faces in the hallway. But not with these girls. If anything, it made their bond together as they’ve come to truly appreciate how blessed they are to have each other in their lives.
“All the big moments and all the little moments,” Fron said. “You always hear that the group is going to separate in high school but there was not a doubt that I wasn’t going to separate from these guys. And there’s not a doubt we aren’t going to separate in college. I can’t wait to experience way more memories and more of life with them.”
While some friends tend to grow apart once high school comes Cipolla said they were fortunate enough to grow closer.
“I think we definitely grew together,” Cipolla said. “We’re different people now, but we figured out a way to make everything work. Seeing each other every day definitely helps.”
With college on the horizon, they know the days of seeing each other every single day are starting to dwindle. But they also know that they are still only a text or a phone call away.
“One day in college I don’t hope to make more friends, but I do know I will have friends like this,” said Pfalzer. “I will never have friends with (other) people like I am with these girls. I just love them so much. It could never be matched.”
Down the road, as they continue to cherish their time together they can’t help but smile and wish that someday they will all have daughters themselves. And that maybe, just maybe, those girls will have that same friendship they have.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Fron said. “I’m just so thankful to have them. Even if we meet new friends we’ll still stay together. We’ve opened people up to (hang out) with our group but it’s always been just the four of us. That sounds mean, but it’s not meant to be. It just shows how much we stick together and how much we’ve grown together. And yeah I hope one day our kids will be friends with each other.”
Are there similar stories like this out there? Absolutely.
High schools across the country are filled with their own versions of stories of lifelong bonds created on the playing field.
And that’s the beauty of sports. Long after the final game has been played and uniforms have been folded and put away the friendships and memories, we make are what stay with us for the long haul.