Sports injury brings couple together

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Lacrosse player Rob Mizelle ’09 and soccer player Anna Kolnik ’08 will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in January.

Looking back now, Rob Mizelle ’09 (civil engineering technology) can be thankful he was injured during lacrosse pre-season in 2005.

At the time, the quadricep he ruptured during a morning practice in January meant Mizelle had to sit out his freshman season and navigate the RIT campus on crutches. But it also changed his relationship with soccer forward Anna Kolnik ’08 (marketing), a friend he had frequently run into in the training room and the honors dorm.

“We started to spend a lot more time together after the injury,” Anna said. “I was pretty concerned about him and didn’t think anything of the concern. Later I obviously figured out that I had stronger feelings for him than I was letting myself believe.”

By March, the two were dating after an impromptu Valentine’s Day celebration, which involved Rob dancing on crutches with Anna in his dorm room. Four years later on Valentine’s Day, Rob proposed. They will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary on Jan. 2.

The two might never have met if Anna hadn’t decided to attend RIT. The Sharon, Wis., native was recruited to play soccer at three schools—RIT, Babson College in Boston and the University of Marymount in Virginia. On May 1, the last day to submit her deposit, she was at a soccer tournament and on the phone with her mom, who was at the post office with three envelopes wondering which one to mail.

“The whistle blew for captains and I said RIT, walked on the field and never looked back,” she said.

For Rob, who grew up in nearby Pittsford, N.Y., selecting a university was an easier decision. “RIT was the best fit for academics and the opportunity to play lacrosse,” he said.

Rob and Anna did more than play sports. They formed the first RIT Student-Athlete Advisory Committee after representing RIT at a NCAA symposium in 2005. By the following fall, athletes were engaged in community service and were showing their school spirit by attending each other’s games. The community service project grew into a Tigers Give Back weekend with athletes volunteering their time at Rochester schools and helping to clean up city neighborhoods.

Their efforts to increase school spirit included starting President Bill Destler’s Orange Hair Challenge, where he would dye his hair orange if students filled Clark Gym for a men’s and women’s basketball game.

Rob and Anna live in Portland, Ore., after living for three years in Washington, D.C. Anna works as a marketing and promotions specialist for Comcast Spotlight. She finished her MBA in August at the University of Portland. Rob works as a senior project engineer for Balfour-Beatty Construction. He is working on becoming a Licensed Professional Engineer.

“For us, RIT was an opportunity not just to have a really fun and enriching college experience, but also to move forward,” Rob said. “It was the opportunity to meet one another. And it was the opportunity to set ourselves up to succeed as professionals.”

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