TONICA — When Karla Goskusky of Tonica learned of Illinois Valley Community College’s annual Paul Simon Essay Contest — a chance for students to write about how the college changed their lives — she saw it as an opportunity almost 40 years in the making.
A renowned IVCC student-athlete and coach in the 1980s and 1990s, Goskusky will graduate from the college’s therapeutic massage program in the summer of 2021.
She was a member of IVCC’s first volleyball and softball teams and still fondly remembers her initial experience on campus at a summer basketball scrimmage.
“I was waiting on the side to get in and show them what I could do,” she recalled in her Simon essay. “In the middle of a fast break, coach Ken Pyszka yelled, ‘Karla, get in there!’ I darted in from half-court, ran full-speed down the lane, caught a pass from Debbie Hall and somehow made a miraculous shot while being fouled. That was my start at IVCC.”
The former Karla Walgenbach was a three-sport captain and MVP who earned a scholarship to Loyola University Chicago to play volleyball and basketball before a broken leg suffered in an IVCC softball game cost her that full-ride.
“I was devastated, but it opened another door, one that helped mold me into the person I am today: a coach, a mentor, someone who loves to help people.”
She met lifelong friends at IVCC including Rhonda Morel, Carol Pratt, Dr. Rhonda Marty-Anderson and Mary Jesse and spent the next decade coaching IVCC volleyball; her 1986
team finished third in the state with a school record 37 wins and she was named N4C Conference Coach of the Year.
She also refereed volleyball 32 years — including being head official for the 2003 Class A state championship at ISU’s Redbird Arena.
Goskusky is a married mother of four sons, fitness trainer and former award-winning bodybuilder. She was a successful salesperson of large farm buildings for 19 years. When that job ended, she turned to IVCC. “IVCC came to the rescue again by hiring me as a fitness center instructor and by giving me a start in a new career in therapeutic massage. I’ve never enjoyed school so much as I have this time around.
“IVCC has been there for me at every stage of my life,” she wrote. “It has quietly been my rock, always there when I needed it. I graduated from IVCC in 1981 and now 40 years later will graduate again at 60.”
“I am not sure where I would be in this world without IVCC.”