Crown Point parents Dave and Beth Gulvas were watching Christmas home movies several years ago. The joy and laughter quickly halted when the two noticed something.
Their 2 1/2 old daughter, Kara Gulvas, was on the television when her parents' fear crystallized.
The video showed family members behind the youngster calling her name, "Kara, Kara." She never turned her head.
Soon, they found out their little girl was 80-percent deaf.
"We're so proud of Kara," Dave said recently. "She has accomplished so much."
Gulvas graduated from Crown Point in 2009, where she competed in soccer, basketball and softball. A signing interpreter went with her to class, practice and games.
Her athletic career helped her earn an invitation to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., one of the nation's leading universities for hearing-impaired students.
Gulvas plays goalkeeper for the Bison women's soccer team. She is ranked No. 1 among all divisions of the NCAA with 117 saves this week.
Despite having four ACL surgeries in her time in the nation's capital, Gulvas also plays softball at Gallaudet.
"Gallaudet University is the only university for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing," Gulvas said in an email interview. "Everyone has the knowledge of how to sign in ASL. Communication is the main reason why I picked this place because it is always accessible. Also I wanted to have a new experience.
"I was always mainstreamed and used an interpreter. Now I can say that I have the best of both worlds."
Gulvas' toughness was on display as a Bulldog for four years. One year on the junior varsity soccer team she had nine shutouts. Once, a charging player crashed into the box and took Gulvas out.
Both hearing aides lay on the ground. The soccer ball was cradled in Gulvas' hands.
"Crown Point High School prepared me well for the next step," she said.
Gallaudet women's soccer coach Sarah Gumina has been nothing but amazed by her star between the pipes. It isn't just the on-the-field athleticism that has Gumina singing Gulvas' praise.
"Kara has done a fantastic job in the goal," Gumina said on Monday. "She's very dependable. She has had some amazing games as our last line of defense."
Just like when she was in C.P., it isn't just the stat sheet that proves Gulvas' worth.
"She is always looking out for the younger players on the team," Gumina said. "Kara is a true leader. She would give the shirt right off her back if they asked for it."
Gulvas said that D.C. is a lot like Chicago, with different ethic neighborhoods and a ton of diversity. She said there a lot of things to do and has even visited that city's Chinatown.
She has also been impressed by the historical side of the town and encourages Regionites to visit her new home.
Gulvas has seen President Barack Obama around town. She's seen his motorcade and has seen Marine One fly over her campus. Without saying who she's voting for in November, she does have one goal before graduating this spring.
"If he wins this year's election, I am hoping to have him sign my diploma," Gulvas said.
As a freshman, Gulvas was named "Bison of the Month" and "Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Week." Her sophomore year, professional goalkeeper Kati Jo Spisak, who played with the Washington Freedom and Boston Breakers, worked with Gulvas, who was named a second-team all-conference pick.
That's when the clouds passed over the sun.
"I remember it as (if) it happened yesterday," Gulvas recalled.
In the last conference game of her sophomore year against Penn State Abington, she jumped for a soccer ball and landed on her right leg wrong.
"Everything happened in slow motion," she said. "I saw my right knee buckle under me, felt a pop then sharp pain hit. The next thing I know I’m on the ground for what seemed like eternity."
The torn ACL would require four surgeries in eight months.
The rehab was grueling and Gulvas strongly considered ending her athletic career, but Gumina talked her into fighting hard for her final season of eligibility. And Gulvas is having her career year.
"I ask a lot of her and she does quite a bit," Gumina said.
Gumina, who has full hearing, said it is sometimes difficult to communicate during games, especially with the Bisons' No. 1 jersey way across the field. But they get it done.
Gulvas is not critical of her station in life.
"I would not call it a challenge," she said. "At first it was a tough transition to play on a team then I got used to how everyone communicates ... Being visible makes up for my hearing, just watch out how the other team plays and apply knowledge to the game."
Kara misses home and is a little jealous of her sister Meghan, who attends Loyola and can jump on a train and be home in an hour.
"As for C.P., I miss the slower pace of life compared with D.C.’s hustle and bustle," she said.
Gulvas holds a 3.2 GPA and the competitor inside has her working hard to raise that number before graduation. Her major is Communication Studies with a minor in Sports Programming. She is hoping to go into Sports/Public Administrations for her Masters.
She summed up her story, so far, like most would expect.
"It was not an easy journey, physically and mentally," she said of coming back from the knee injury. "There were times where I wanted to throw in the towel and give up.
"I am glad that I stuck it out."