Paige Gilliland, a senior at Hayfield Secondary School, is an outside hitter for the volleyball team which won the National District championship this year. She is also a four year starter as goal keeper on Hayfield's girls' varsity soccer team, making all-District honorable mention in her freshman year, and second team all-District as a sophomore and a junior. This year she is first team all-District.
It can’t be easy balancing time for study and homework and practices or games just about every day of the week. Some high school student athletes manage to do this in more than one sport. But, according to a Sports Illustrated webpage story posted in 2002, they are part of a dying breed. The story reported “no one involved in youth sports disputes that there's a marked trend toward specialization.”
Multiple sport high school student athletes were once more prevalent, but, now, summer camps and play on select or elite travel teams are designed to turn the high school athlete into a specialist, often in the hopes of getting good enough to attract athletic college scholarships in their sport.
Gilliland is one who has bucked that trend. She said that in the fall she would be at volleyball practice or at a game every day of the week, and on the weekend she would practice or play in a game of club soccer. In the spring season, she said, “My days are crammed with high school soccer during the week, club volleyball twice a week, tournaments some weekends and club soccer on the weekends.”
“I use my time wisely both in school and out of school to make sure my homework and studying are done, and I have maintained A’s and B’s throughout all four years.”
Despite the time commitment it takes, Gilliland enjoys playing both soccer and volleyball. She started playing soccer when she was 8 and said she enjoys the challenge and intensity of being a goalie.
She didn’t start playing volleyball until the summer before her freshman year. Close friends urged her to try it. She attended a camp to learn more about the game and tried out for the Hayfield team. “It turns out that volleyball was the perfect cross training to improve my jump for soccer goalkeeping,” she said. “Volleyball is completely different from soccer, so it is nice to have a change.”
Gilliland’s parents have also been athletes all their lives and encouraged her to play both sports, and her coaches never questioned her playing two different sports. “I made sure that during volleyball season, practices and games were a priority over my club soccer team; and during soccer season, practices and games came before club volleyball,” Gilliland said.
Gilliland plans to attend East Carolina University in the fall where she will play soccer for the school’s club team.