Kassandra Marie Kaulius was born on June 27, 1988, in North Vancouver, to Victor, who worked for a local bakery, and Markita, a recreation centre employee. The family, who lived in nearby Surrey, already had two children, Miranda and Nicholas; because of earlier complications, Markita “wasn’t supposed to have any more children,” Victor says. “Kassandra was a bit of a miracle.”
From the moment she was born, Kassandra was a joyful child who loved playing with her brother and sister—especially, Markita says, “anything to do with sports.” When she was just two, her mom says, “she’d run out to the garage in her pyjamas, get her brother’s lacrosse stick and put his hockey helmet on, and say, ‘Come play, Come play!’ ” That year, she asked for a basketball. By age 3, she was in the backyard, swinging a baseball bat, Victor says, yelling, “I’m hitting a home run!” Kassandra and Nick would recruit their dad to be “ringmaster” for their wrestling matches, or they’d play ninja and He-Man. At the same time, Miranda says, “She could be a really girlie-girl.” By age 5, Kassandra was playing T-ball, and she loved football, hockey, swimming—anything that got her moving. “It’s not that she was the world’s best athlete,” Victor says. “She just loved playing sports.” And did she like school? Her entire family chuckles. Victor says, “She liked P.E.”
In high school, Kassandra competed on the volleyball and basketball teams, but softball—and especially pitching—became her passion. Her team won the provincial championships, and went on to win a national silver medal in 2004. “Kassandra would help out the younger girls,” says her cousin Darren Kaulius, 42, a coach with the Surrey Storm fast-pitch softball league, where Kassandra played (and eventually coached, too). “My daughters are close in age to her, and the reason they play ball is because of her,” Darren says. “They saw how much fun it could be, and how great you can look in a uniform.”
In the fall of 2005, Kassandra met Cody Schlamb, who was playing junior hockey in nearby Langley. He was immediately smitten. “She was beautiful,” says Cody, now 25. “We started spending all our time together.” Kassandra was just as comfortable watching a hockey game with the guys as she was out on the town, he says. “Everytime we’d go out, she’d make sure her makeup, her hair, her outfit were all perfect. And as soon as she’d get on the field, it would completely change. That was the most beautiful thing about her.”
After high school, Kassandra went to Florida’s Pensacola State College on a full scholarship. She was due to fly home for Christmas on Dec. 16, but on Dec. 12, Victor suffered a massive heart attack. “I had open-heart surgery,” he says. “She was in the middle of exams. We didn’t tell her.” When Kassandra arrived, “We had to tell her at the airport, and she was in tears,” Markita says. Adds Victor, who’s healthy today, “Kassandra and I were very close.” Kassandra didn’t return to Florida: she came down with mononucleosis, and ended up staying home for a year.
Kassandra was offered another scholarship, and went to Western Texas College for a year. But she decided to move back home, announcing to her parents that, from that point forward, she’d be paying her own way. “We were afraid we’d spoiled her to death, but we hadn’t,” Victor says proudly. Kassandra’s goal was to become a phys. ed. teacher, and she worked for two years to save up to return to school, coaching and playing softball in her spare time. She bought a 1995 BMW in “calypso red,” Victor says, making all the payments herself, the final one three months ago. “She wanted to pay it off before we moved in together,” Cody says, which they’d hoped to do this fall. Both were enrolled at the University of the Fraser Valley, and were looking forward to becoming teachers, “and one day, having kids,” Cody says. “I was going to ask her to marry me in the summertime.”
On May 3, just a few days after writing her last exam, Kassandra was leaving the ballpark after coaching the girls’ team, and playing a game herself. Three blocks away from home, she was waiting to turn left when a suspected drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into her car, causing what police called “catastrophic damage.” Kassandra was killed instantly. She was 22 years old. Her family has set up a scholarship fund in her name, through the Surrey Storm softball team.