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Alum and coach reflects on life after losing her best friend

Photo courtesy of Colleen Klipstein
Alum Colleen Klipstein and Abby Bieber dress in spirit at their spring pep rally in March of 2008. Klipstein and Bieber went on to be two star players in that season with strong chemistry on the field, prior to her untimely death years later.

Knowing your best friend and platonic soulmate was taken from you is the hardest thing to ever get through. It’s as if a piece of you is ripped out and there’s nothing you can do to get it back. Alum and former varsity girls lacrosse coach Colleen Klipstein lost a piece of her life when her long time best friend died due to domestic violence, evidently affecting her life from that point on. Klipstein was friends with Abby Bieber from birth and they were inseparable ever since.

“We spent all of our summers together, through highschool when I was at WJ. Even though she was a year younger than me in school, we were just good friends all the time, hanging out, making bad decisions together… In college we then lived together for three years but she was always my go to person when I needed anything,” Klipstein said.

Klipstein and Bieber both played for the varsity girls lacrosse team together when they were in high school.

“She and I had an unbelievable connection that I did not have with other people and I think it naturally came from our playing together and being friends,” Klipstein said.

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Abby Bieber was a police officer in Florida who graduated from WJ in 2009. She died by the means of a murder-suicide committed by a detective, who was also her boyfriend at the time. Klipstein was hit hard with the news of Bieber’s death, and it continues to haunt her wherever she goes.

It has flipped me upside down. There is not a day, barely even an hour, that goes by that I don’t think about her and what happened.

— Klipstein

Klipstein’s friend and former coworker Ashley Herdman, the current girls JV lacrosse coach, mentioned that Bieber was someone who made a good impression on people as soon as they met.

“She was super nice, and I knew she graduated from here, and I worked with her mom, so I was like, well if you’re Sarah’s daughter and you’re friends with Colleen, you have to be someone cool,” Herdman said.

The varsity lacrosse team held a tribute game in honor of Bieber. Klipstein was unaware of the arrangement, so the experience was a shock.

“Looking into the stands, into the most crowded game I can remember, was so amazing and healing to see how many people she impacted … The way the team rallied around me to honor someone so special to our community was humbling and inspiring,” Klipstein said.

The topic of domestic violence isn’t something people are usually aware of, so when it does come up, they’re startled. There’s often no evidence, in the victim or the abuser, pointing toward any red flags, leading to a tragic end.

“There was no moment of her allowing herself to be abused or hurt. She did the opposite, and that’s kind of why it led to this point. She didn’t accept him trying to control her. She was ending the relationship which is why he killed her,” Klipstein said.

Klipstein’s pregnancy has prompted her to resign from the varsity lacrosse position, but she continues to keep WJ lacrosse and the memory of her best friend in her life by honoring her in a special way.

“[My baby is] going to be named after Abby, so it’ll give us a new brightness to look forward to,” Klipstein said.

This story was originally published on The Pitch Online on February 27, 2023.