Keeping a vision

Kalley Kragenbring crochets her way into the future

kalley kragenbringBy Tara Bitzan

Kalley Kragenbring of Alexandria found out the hard way that life doesn’t always go according to plan. But she’s learned to make new plans when necessary and continues to have a vision, even if she has to revise it from time to time.
One of her plans was to play hockey, which she did successfully for seven years. As an 8th grader, she played junior varsity and was on the varsity swing line. As a freshman, she played varsity forward and was the team MVP. As a sophomore, she suffered two serious, consecutive concussions, and her hockey career came to an end.
Kragenbring’s traumatic brain injury required her to revise a lot of other plans as well. She fought to keep up in school, missing 89 days her junior year alone. She had to drop orchestra and choir classes because of the ill-effects of the noise and wellness/fitness due to inability to participate. She couldn’t play on the school golf team and had to give up all technological stimulation for a time (not an easy thing for any teenager).
Her days of fun on Lake Mary also changed, as the injury left her unable to jet ski, wakeboard, tube, or even be in a moving boat for long. She was socially isolated and physically ill.
But the 17-year-old Jefferson High School senior has rebounded and is working her way over, around and through the obstacles in her path.
Last fall, she was a member of the school’s cross country team. She became a national spokesperson for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes regarding concussion awareness and developing an identity based on faith. Her message is: “Don’t let your sport be your identity.”
She’s also making plans to attend college next fall and, thanks to skills taught to her by her Grandma Bev, has started a business to help pay for it.

When/why did you start crocheting? I started crocheting in the winter of 2012 when I had a lot of spare time on my hands after finding out I could not play hockey due to concussions. The doctor told me that crocheting could be a form of therapy for me.

What type of things do you crochet? I crochet mostly scarves but I can do headbands as well.

When did you start selling your items? This past summer. My friend Alia and I thought it would be a good idea to start selling our stuff and make a business together. We decided to call it Crocheting for College because both of us are using the money to help pay our college tuition. We have had our booth at Art in the Park, the Carlos Creek Winery Grape Stomp, an Alexandria Technical and Community College Child Care Conference, and the Trinity Lutheran Fall Boutique in Holmes City.

How much time do you spend crocheting/how many items have you made? I have spent countless hours crocheting and have made over 100 items.

What’s your favorite item you’ve made so far? A mini scarf for my 6-year-old cousin that she brought for show and tell one day.

What are your future plans? I plan to go to college for sure. I haven’t decided where or what for. I’m considering Concordia, Moorhead State, University of Minnesota-Duluth and University of North Dakota. I have interests in psychology and criminal justice. I have received help from various counselors, psychologists and therapists and may pursue that career path, possibly becoming a school psychologist at the middle school level. I remember vividly being a middle school student and how testing it could be at times. It would mean the world to me if I could be there for these teens and help them through their problems so that they can be equipped with the right tools to be strong emotionally.

What’s your advice for other young women who run into life-altering obstacles? I would tell them to grieve through it and then make something good come out of your bad situation.

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