Will Kromka aims to cap family’s legacy at Gateway with volleyball success

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Sunday, May 1, 2022 | 10:01 AM


The Gateway Gators have adopted many of the principles of the “Kromka-way.”

Will Kromka, a 6-foot-4 senior outside/middle hitter on the Gateway boys volleyball team, led the Gators to a 4-0 section record at the halfway point of their schedule.

“As the season plays out, I expect Will to do Kromka-like things for us because that’s what the kid does; he transforms people, places, practices and, in the near future, playoffs,” said Phil Randolph, Gateway’s fourth-year coach.

“Will has an infectious personality that is built properly from the ground up. His parents, Joe and Suzanne, are two of the most selfless, inspiring people I’ve ever met. They have sent eight amazing children through the Gateway School District, and the Kromka legacy — in the classroom and on the court — at Gateway High School sadly comes to an end with Will’s graduation.

“Will was raised with many great ‘teachers’ in the Kromka household, and these lessons have shaped him into a young man who is wise beyond his years.”

Kromka, whose siblings are Joe, Kate, Mike, Tom, Jim, John Paul and Mary, is a two-sport standout.

He would have been a four-year starter in volleyball if not for the covid-wracked 2020 season, and was a four-year starter in basketball for the Gators.

Gateway’s boys basketball team finished second in Section 3-5A this year, went 18-7 overall, and advanced to the WPIAL and PIAA semifinals.

Kromka averaged 16 points the past two seasons. Off the court, he has a 4.3 GPA, is president of the senior class, and is a member of the National Honor Society, interact club, book club and AIM program. He also competes for a local swim team in the summer and in AAU basketball.

The 18-year-old Kromka was cited as a 2022 “preseason player to watch” in volleyball by Trib HSSN.

At the end of April, Gateway was ranked sixth in Class 2A by the WPVCA, behind North Catholic, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Seton LaSalle, Montour and Ambridge.

“I have pretty high expectations for the team, especially with how our season is going,” Kromka said. “I don’t like to look too far ahead though, and prefer to take it one game at a time, one task at a time.

“I am very thankful for my experience at Gateway. It has the academics, athletics and diversity that make it a unique school. It has molded me into who I am. I hope the legacy my family has left at Gateway has been nothing but positive and has set an example for others to follow.”

Volleyball and basketball are team sports, which is one of the reasons Kromka excels at both.

He began playing basketball — on an organized level — in third grade and volleyball in seventh grade.

“Will is just built differently in every way,” Randolph said.

“Will can adjust and stretch to any set, can splinter the court on balls that are well placed and well timed, and can play back row in as nimble of a manner as any of the smaller guys. He can put up an enormous wall with his blocks, and can move seamlessly to any front or back row spot where we might be able to best utilize him.

“Perhaps more importantly though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on what Will brings to our team outside of his athletic talents. Will leads by example not only with his play on the court and in practice but also in the manner in which he verbally and non-verbally leads with his words and his demeanor.

“Often times, in working with young athletes, you encounter guys who are eager to tell you what they can do but who come up a bit short when it comes to actually manifesting those results. Will is the absolute opposite. He is the increasingly rare young athlete who is eager to let his play and work ethic do the talking so that he earns the respect of those around him by always striving to be the hardest working yet humblest guy in the room. Fortunately, this attitude is infectious, and our entire program is stronger mentally, physically and emotionally.

Kromka, a Pitt-Johnstown basketball commit who will join his brother John Paul at UPJ, has earned all-section honors in both sports as well as an All-WPIAL second-team accolade in volleyball.

“I feel UPJ is a good fit for me academically, athletically, and I love the campus,” Kromka said. “It’s a pleasant addition that I will be able to play ball with John, and I am really looking forward to it.”

Bozicevic and Lewis landed second-team all-section honors last season, and Lewis was an All-WPIAL third-team selection.

Lewis and Kromka were lauded as players of the week in April by the WPVCA.

“While Will would be honored for the praise here, I imagine he’d want to share this spotlight with the other boys on the varsity squad,” Randolph said. ”Volleyball is truly a team sport, and I am sure Will would want to give a shout-out to his brothers on the court. Without them beside him, we’re not having this conversation right now.

“We are a close-knit group, and we’re having a blast playing a game that we love and challenging ourselves to prove we belong at the top. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be surrounded by on this adventure, and that positive energy makes me feel like a kid again on some of these long days and nights. This is a special group here, and we’re going to make sure those around us in the WPIAL know that.”

Gateway (5-1, 4-0) stood in first place in the section midway through the season, ahead of Derry (3-1), Plum (3-2), Deer Lakes (1-4) and Mars (0-4).

The Gators’ lone loss as of April 25 was a 3-2 decision to Seton LaSalle, the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion.

Gateway last won section titles in boys volleyball in 1985 and 1986. They are the only section titles in the history of the program.

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