From pool to court to field: Three athletes tackle three different sports year-round

Annie Fogarty

On the girls’ varsity basketball team, one player’s quickness and agility stands out. She sprints from defense to offense, darting between the players on the opposing team. An 800-meter runner, sophomore Sophia McW

Sophomore Ashley Lamar plays water polo, basketball and lacrosse.
Sophomore Ashley Lamar balances her time between water polo, basketball and lacrosse.

horter’s speed on the court is also evident on the track. She has played varsity basketball, cross country, and track since her freshman year.

There are few students who, like McWhorter, commit to playing three different sports throughout the course of three different seasons. A majority of student athletes select one or two Redwood sports and practice year-round so that they are in optimal condition for the season, according to Athletic Director Jessica Peisch.

Because playing three high school sports is such a rarity, athletes who participate for all four years are recognized at the Senior Athletic Banquet in the spring with an award for the accomplishment, according to Peisch.

“[These athletes] get a gold card, so they get into a lifetime of free events at Redwood High. It’s a fun way to honor them for their time and commitment,” Peisch said.

McWhorter’s love for her three sports began long before high school. She started playing basketball in elementary school and began running in fifth grade.

Like McWhorter, junior Layla Dunne also has participated in three sports since her freshman year. Dunne, a runner on  junior varsity cross country in the fall, plays varsity basketball in the winter and varsity lacrosse in the spring. When she was young, she watched her older siblings compete in Redwood sports, which inspired her to follow their lead. Her sister played both volleyball and basketball, while her brother played basketball and lacrosse.

“I have always played a sport so I don’t really know it any other way. It’s normal for me,” Dunne said.

She switched from volleyball to cross country this fall season and intends to try out for field hockey next fall, meaning that she will graduate having played five different Redwood sports.

Dunne admitted that her divided attention prevents her from concentrating on and excelling in one sport. However, she has significantly improved in basketball and lacrosse, even working her way up to the varsity level in both sports.

“A drawback in playing multiple sports is that I wasn’t able to focus my attention on one,” Dunne said. “Once I finished a season, I couldn’t keep working at [it]. I had to transition into the next sport.”

McWhorter also said that balancing multiple sports can be a challenge. Though she wants to continue her three sports throughout high school, she acknowledges it will be more difficult to make progress in each.

“It can be hard to get better at one sport when you have to take off a season to do the other one,” McWhorter said.

While Dunne and McWhorter plan to continue playing three sports for the rest of high school, three-sport athlete sophomore Ashley Lamar is considering focusing her attention on a single sport.

Lamar says that she brings a very competitive personality to all the sports she practices, whether she is at the pool, court, or field. This year, she played varsity water polo in the fall and hopes to play varsity lacrosse in the spring. She is currently on the junior varsity basketball team. Her freshman year, she participated in the same three sports.

“I’m thinking about picking one sport to focus on next year, but I don’t know if I can because I like them all so much,” Lamar said.

Though each sport is unique, there are some universal components. McWhorter said that her endurance from cross country is an asset in basketball, while Dunne said her mentality is also transferrable between sports.

Junior Layla Dunne plays varsity basketball and track, and runs cross country.

“Being on varsity basketball this year, my confidence has grown and I feel like I will be able to transition it into my lacrosse season,” Dunne said.

However, one obstacle in balancing three sports is the overlap between seasons. The postseason of one sport may carry over into the season of the subsequent one, Peisch said.

“Students cannot transition into a new sport until they have finished their season,” Peisch said. “We work with the athlete to make sure that they communicate to the new coach that they will be trying out later.”

McWhorter said that her coaches are very understanding and she switches into her next sport as soon as she can. The same week that she competes at the state cross country meet, she returns to the basketball court for practice.

While the transition from one sport to the other is sudden for McWhorter, she eases back into competing.

“During basketball, I sit out the first few games to get back into it and because other people have been putting the time in,” McWhorter said.

Many sports also have a preseason, so athletes still participating in their second or third seasons cannot begin training as early as their teammates, according to Peisch.

“Preseason basketball overlaps [with water polo]. It is all fall so I wasn’t able to make open gyms. Preseason would have helped me practice and get to know the team,” Lamar said.

In addition to a sport each season, some athletes also play for club teams year-round. With school and club teams, few students have time to commit to playing multiple sports, according to Peisch. Dunne played club volleyball her freshman and sophomore years, but eventually decided to quit due to the time commitment. However, Lamar continues to play club basketball, which has multiple practices a day.

“We don’t have that many athletes who participate in three sports, so it is wonderful that we have this many right now. It’s exciting,” Peisch said.