When most multi-sport student-athletes enter high school, they’re presented with what is almost always a foregone conclusion: “Which sport(s) do I drop so I can focus and excel at one instead?”
Because of this, multi-sport athletes are becoming a more and more rare breed, especially at larger 4A schools.
For Green Hope’s Allie Winiecki, now a senior, her scenario wasn’t quite the same. Already juggling junior varsity volleyball and varsity basketball, Winiecki was stuck deciding whether she wanted to add lacrosse or track and field to fill her plate.
“The thing I remember most about the discussion before high school started was that Allie had made up her mind that she would definitely play three sports,” Allie’s father Steve Winiecki said. “There was no question in her mind about that. The question really was which ones they would be.”
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Maggie Auslander, currently a member of the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team, convinced Winiecki to pick up a stick and try her hand at lacrosse.
She became a natural, making the varsity squad right after appearing in 25 games for the varsity basketball team that went 26-3 and advanced to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.
In Winiecki’s first season in lacrosse’s goggles and cleats, the Falcons advanced to the 4A East final.
With her amateur athletic career coming to a close, Winiecki has played sports for 12 seasons in high school, 10 of which were at the varsity level for top-flight teams. Where Winiecki went, the Falcons won, as she’ll graduate with a 142-54 (.724) record in regular season games with only one sub .500 season.
Her lacrosse coach, Bob Stanley, lauded Winiecki’s team-first attitude as being a key to the team’s success.
“She’s a great team player who’s very humble, she’s not a braggart kind of athlete and brings up the players around her,” he said. “She gets as many assists as she does goals and she’s a great team player.”
Fierce in Basketball
Winiecki’s first love was basketball, which she first began playing when she was 5. Having a twin brother, Stevie, Winiecki never had to look far for someone who doubled as both competition and a teammate for many years. Until she started playing AAU basketball, Allie was raised playing in the boys recreational leagues with Stevie, something that helped her growth on and off the court.
“It made me more comfortable playing sports and being more aggressive because when I was younger, I was a very timid little girl,” Winiecki said. “Playing with boys up until we stopped playing ‘rec’ made me more comfortable with pushing others around.”
After playing a season of junior varsity volleyball, Winiecki caught the eye of girls basketball coach Mike Robinson with her tenacity and resilience on the court.
“Her freshman year I saw a lot of potential. She was willing to listen and do the things that would make her better,” he said. “She got to practice against older and stronger players and I noticed that she would never quit even though she was a little overmatched.”
“You can’t teach that. She just has that will to never quit,” Robinson added.
Coaching Winiecki for three of her four years on varsity, Robinson has been able to see both sides of her personality.
“Off the court, she’s the kindest person that you’ll ever meet,” he said. “On the court, she’s a young lady that doesn’t like to lose. She’s a fierce competitor.”
Little Free Time
Once Winiecki became an anomaly after committing to play three sports, her schedule was packed. Her only free time to train outside of team practices came during the summer, where she often practiced for two sports every day.
Once the school year started, there was never a moment to rest. With nearly every team Winiecki played on advancing to the playoffs, that often meant missing tryouts for the ensuing season and the first handful of practices.
Winiecki never had the problem of coming into a season out of shape, but she admits some transitions were harder than others.
“The hardest transition is going to volleyball because in the other sports you’re always catching a ball and that’s half the game and in volleyball you’re always trying to pass,” she said. “For lacrosse, a lot of defense is kind of like basketball and on offense you’re just catching with a stick.”
So how long does the transition from volleyball to basketball or basketball to lacrosse take?
“Well, the first two days are always kind of rough, but I get back into it,” Winiecki said.
Winiecki has never regretted the commitment she decided to make entering high school, even when grueling workouts absorbed her summer.
“In the summer, pretty much every day is two sports, but it’s fun, you get to see friends,” she said.
Though, Winiecki will be focusing on academics when she attends North Carolina in the fall, she’s thankful for what sports have done to her life and intends to stay involved in playing. As a matter of fact, she still can’t decide what sport to drop. She plans to tryout for club basketball and participate in intramural volleyball and lacrosse.
“I wanted to keep playing three sports because in my opinion it’s fun and it allows me to be with different people each season. I think it’s a great thing to do.”