GJ’s O’Brien, Gromke sign with colleges

Grand Junction’s Mikayla O’Brien, left, and Megan Gromke sign their letters of intent Wednesday. O’Brien will play volleyball at Aurora University outside Chicago and Gromke will pay lacrosse at Colorado Mesa.

Mikayla O’Brien and Megan Gromke grew up together. On Wednesday, the best friends celebrated together.

The two Grand Junction High School seniors accepted hugs and handshakes as they signed letters of intent to take their games to the collegiate level next year.

Celebrating with family, friends and classmates, the two athletes posed for photos and signed off on successful high school athletic careers as they looked to the future.

O’Brien will be off to Aurora University outside Chicago to play volleyball and Gromke will stay in Grand Junction to play lacrosse for Colorado Mesa University.

O’Brien has been playing volleyball since a youngster coming up through the club ranks. She reached her peak as a senior, leading the Southwestern League in blocks from her middle blocker position.

About five years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare cancer from tumors that developed on her abdomen.

As an eighth-grader, O’Brien slipped into a coma for three months, and she had to re-learn how to walk and eat when she emerged from the coma.

But the dream of playing volleyball never vanished.

“When I was in the coma, my mom said I would sit up in spurts and pretend to be hitting a volleyball,” O’Brien with a laugh.

After a successful senior year, which will wrap up athletically at the end of track season, O’Brien is excited and ready for college.

“It’s a great opportunity to better my education and I have a scholarship to play volleyball, so I get to do two things that I love,” she said after her signing.

Whether it’s in volleyball, other sports, or her education, O’Brien has been determined and focused to succeed.

“It shows that hard work pays off. You have to have determination and you have to be a go-getter and go after whatever you want,” she said.

Aurora University has a strong nursing program, important to O’Brien.

“I want to pursue a career in nursing,” she said.

For Gromke, her goal of scoring lacrosse goals came when her brother, George, came home with a lacrosse stick.

“We’d go outside and pass and I just fell in love with (the sport),” she said.

She was thrilled when the sport came to Grand Junction. Now she will get the opportunity to play collegiate lacrosse.

“It’s been like a dream,” she said. “I never thought I would be able to get to this level in lacrosse, but I did and I’m really excited to play (for CMU) next year.”

The sport instantly appealed to her.

“It’s really the fastest sport on two feet,” she said “It’s a mix of all the sports. It was a sport that really caught me when it first came out.”

Gromke knows about being first. She’s the oldest (by one minute) of triplets. She also scored the first goal for the Grand Junction lacrosse program.

She’s also one of six Tigers who played on the inaugural girls lacrosse team at Grand Junction.

Both her parents are physicians, so Gromke is considering pursuing a medical career.

“It’s been interesting growing up with doctor parents. It’s been pretty cool,” she said.

Her dad, George, is also a professor at CMU.

Her mother, JoAnne Virgilio, said lacrosse has provided great lessons for her daughter.

“Getting involved in a team sport like lacrosse, it’s been the best thing we’ve ever done,” she said. “And now she will play in college.”


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