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Lady Flyers keeping a busy schedule

Members of the St. Joseph Lady Flyers’ basketball team who participate in multiple activities are: form left to right, Lydia Sheridan, Emma Whaley, Bella Whaley, Kaitlyn Sheridan, Faith Mahlmeister, Lauren Bush, Chloe Sheridan, Laiken Unger, Kerri Jenkins and Emilee Blankenship. (Photo Courtesy of Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

So, you say your schedule is really busy?
You might look like you’re standing still if you talk to the female students at St. Joseph High School.
With only 23 girls in the entire high school, many girls not only play multiple sports, but they do them at the same time.
There are 10 girls on the basketball team and nine of them played both volleyball and soccer during the fall. Only senior Lauren Bush didn’t play a fall sport but that was because she suffered an ACL injury and won’t be able to play any sports her senior year.
One might think the pace slows in basketball season, especially since only 10 girls are on the team.
But 18 of the 23 girls are also cheerleaders which includes seven of the nine healthy members of the girls’ basketball team.
On top of their athletics, the girls are also on the prom committee, high school church choir, Mock Trial team, and all must participate in the spring variety show.
“I just go from one thing to another. After cheer I go, ‘oh, basketball.’ After basketball, I’ve got homework,” said Faith Mahlmeister.
“(My parents) want me to do my best, but sometimes they think it might take its toll and my mom is like, ‘Do you have to make everybody happy or do you want to do this just for yourself?’ I couldn’t imagine myself not busy, honestly.”
Despite all that’s going on out of the classroom, the grades continue to be strong in the classroom.
There are only two juniors in the junior class — Kaitlyn Sheridan and Mahlmeister — and they play all sports as well as being a cheerleader.
Sheridan said it gets easier as you get used to doing so many things all the time.
“It’s about the same (year-round) because I had to juggle volleyball and soccer at the same time and now it’s just basketball. I cheer and basketball so it’s just like last year,” said Sheridan. “I think it’s a little bit easier.”
First-year head basketball coach Bart Burcham is experiencing the task of balancing practice with cheerleading practice, school work and other sports.
Although most coaches prefer to have their players much of the year — especially preseason open gym — Burcham supports all the girls in what they do.
“I understand they have to play a lot of sports and I think it’s great. I’ve never seen anything like it. The kids here work hard. In a day and age when kids want to specialize, these girls are doing four or five different things,” Burcham said with a chuckle.
The toughest part for the multi-tasking players is finding practice time for more than one activity.
“You just have to talk to your coaches and have good communications,” said freshman Chloe Sheridan.
“You have scheduled practice so that you’re not running into each other and you have enough time to do your homework and other things you need to do in your life. You have to have a good plan and manage it.”
Emilee Blankenship prefers soccer but she likes playing the other three sports and cheerleading. She admits, though, that less is easier such as springtime when all she does is play softball.
“I’ve done all this since seventh grade, so when I first started it was really hard on me. I’d break down every night. I’d be so stressed out. But now that I’ve gotten the hang of it., it’s pretty easy,” said Blankenship.
“It takes up all your time pretty much, so when you go home you’ve got to get your stuff done. Any free time in class you get your stuff done. That way whenever you do have all this stuff, you don’t have to worry about it.”
For sophomore Emma Whaley who plays all the sports and cheers, springtime is also the best time of the sports year for her.
“It’s so much easier. School is a lot easier in the spring and it’s just softball and you don’t have that many practices and it’s just one thing. So, compared to the rest of the year, it’s easy,” said Emma.
Admittedly, soccer is Whaley’s favorite sport and she was one of the state’s leading scorers this past season. But that success doesn’t mean she plans to limit herself to just one sport.
“I like to play and be with all the girls, but I don’t like some of the sports I play, but we have to play them because there are just so many of us. I had to play volleyball so that girls would come out and play soccer or we wouldn’t have a team.”
Freshman Bella Whaley — Emma’s cousin — said there is a need for the girls to play more than one sport in order that all the girls have the opportunity to play their own favorite sport.
“I’m playing softball this year. We didn’t have a team last year. I think it keeps me busy and I like to do it because there’s not a lot of us and in order for us to have teams we all have to play,” said Bella.
“It’s fun for me because I like sports and I can’t imagine myself without sports. For soccer, we did that and now for volleyball and softball we’re going to have to do that.”
Besides Bella Whaley and Chloe Sheridan, three other freshmen have had to adjust to the multi-activity schedule.
“It’s kind of difficult because we’re pretty much four nights a week either playing or cheering,” said Kerri Jenkins who is one of the many double-duty girls cheerleading.
“It’s a lot to handle, but you just have to plan it out. We just got back from cheer practice from three to four-fifteen and now we have basketball from five to six-thirty. It takes up a lot of your time.”
“Yeah, I do want to play a lot of sports. It’s just a lot of work all the time. It’s always a continuous cycle, just one thing to the next. It’s pretty tough going from one sport to the next. You never get a break,” said Unger.
For Lydia Sheridan, she just seems to take it all in stride.
“I just like playing sports and I like being with everyone and I like keeping busy,” said Lydia. “I do everything equally. Soccer is my favorite. I just like playing it better. It was the first sport I started playing.”
As it turns out, it was the first of many for her and the rest of the 22 girls in the high school.

St. Joseph Lady Flyers’ Activities Roster
Player Sports Gr.
Alex Holtzapfel volleyball, soccer, cheer, softball Sr.
Kelsey Malone volleyball, soccer, bowling, softball Sr.
Maddy Whaley soccer, cheer Sr.
Grace Miller volleyball, soccer, cheer Sr.
Isabella Griffiths softball Sr.
Paige Preston volleyball, softball Sr.
Bre Wilds volleyball, cheer Sr.
Camryn Zornes cheer Sr.
Maddy Heighton cheer Sr.
Ally Woods cheer Sr.
Faith Mahlmeister volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, cheer Jr.
Kaitlyn Sheridan volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, cheer Jr.
Emma Whaley volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, cheer So.
Emilee Blankenship volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball So.
Pola Jane Delaney cheer So.
Bella Whaley volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball Fr.
Laiken Unger volleyball, soccer, basketball Fr.
Chloe Sheridan volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, cheer Fr.
Lydia Sheridan volleyball, soccer, basketball, cheer Fr.
Keri Jenkins volleyball, soccer, basketball, cheer Fr.
Sami Anderson volleyball, soccer, cheer Fr.
NOTE: Only 24 girls in the entire high school