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Phil Anastasia: Minutemaids' Gill is back and scoring

After a scary illness, the junior picked up where she left off.

Washington Township's Katie Gill is back in the lineup after being out with an illness from mid-December until early this month. Her coach, Sandy Stock, called her return "amazing."
Washington Township's Katie Gill is back in the lineup after being out with an illness from mid-December until early this month. Her coach, Sandy Stock, called her return "amazing."Read more

There's no statistical record of the stormy night when Katie Gill knew her remarkable recovery was complete.

Officially, that May 14 tournament game between Washington Township and Howell never happened.

For the Minutemaids, it was a washout.

For Gill, it was a breakthrough.

"That's when I knew I was back to being me," said Gill, who plays attack for Washington Township.

Gill, a junior, scored six goals in the first half, although none of them counted when rain and lightning forced the South Jersey Group 4 lacrosse game to be replayed in its entirety the next day.

Still, there was a moment at halftime when Gill knew had she finally – finally – left behind the lingering effects of a frightening ordeal that began before the winter holidays and continued into her junior season.

"One of the managers told me I had six goals," Gill said. "I didn't even realize it. I was kind of in shock. It was like I was back to being myself."

Washington Township coach Sandy Stock, whose team has advanced to Monday's South Jersey Group 4 championship game against Cherokee, said Gill's return to the lineup has been "amazing."

And it's not like Gill is playing a minor role after missing three months of school and spending 32 days in Children's Hospital of Philadelphia during four different stays from December 23 to March 16.

Gill scored four goals in a big victory over Lenape on May 12. She came back after her unofficial six-goal half against Howell and scored three the following day in the rescheduled game.

She scored a goal in a tournament victory over Eastern and added three more goals in Thursday's sectional semifinal victory over South Brunswick.

"This kid has such guts," Stock said of Gill. "I can't imagine an adult having to go through what she went through. She's an amazing kid."

According to her mother, Roz, Gill started to feel ill Dec. 13. She went to see her family doctor for what she thought was an upset stomach.

By Dec. 23, Gill was in Children's Hospital. Roz Gill said doctors suspected early on that Katie likely was dealing with Crohn's Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that, in most cases, can be controlled with diet and medication.

But there were complications. Lots of complications. Lots of tests, too, and lots of worry.

"She lost 14 pounds in one week," Roz Gill said. "She's 5-5 and at one point her weight was down into the 90s. She had five blood transfusions. It was scary."

Katie Gill loves lacrosse so much she got a six-hour pass from the hospital in early March so she could finish her training to become a youth official. She works some games with her mother.

She loves playing best of all, and there were serious questions about whether she would be able to participate this season, a key year for an athlete with aspirations to play at the college level.

Gill was weak and tired during her first few weeks with the team. Sometimes, she would leave practice after an hour. She played a little junior-varsity in the first few weeks of the season, and it seemed unlikely she would be able to make much of an impact at the varsity level.

But she kept getting stronger and regaining her speed. She has become a prominent player for the Minutemaids over the last two weeks, and has helped the team reached the South Jersey title game in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season.

"Someone told me it would be a year before I would be back and that really scared me," Gill said. "I'm lucky I was able to get back a lot sooner than that. I thought I might miss this whole season, and now I'm out there with my team again."