No Halftime for Sally Countryman

Get to know the triple varsity athlete

Allyson Jay, In-Depth Editor

The rumble of the fans from the sidelines fills the air. The blistering sun beats down on braided hair and sweaty jerseys. Cleats sprint over grass, sticks collide, and a single yellow ball hits the ground. A whistle blows and everything stops; the game is over. Balancing academics and personal life is never easy. Adding even one sport into that schedule is even harder. Add two more sports totaling to three seasons, hours of practice, and long, strenuous games, and you’ve got a peek into Sally Countryman ’23’s daily life.

Q: How did you get into sports?

A: I got into sports from my parents first. My dad put me in skiing when I was two or three years old and then also my parents put me in softball and some other recreational sports in my community. My grandma was also a big part of women in sports and she did a lot for women being able to play when she was younger so she also was a big part of getting me into sports. She was a tennis player when she was younger so she kind of got me into tennis a little but I didn’t really enjoy it then.”

Q: When did you start playing hockey, lacrosse and tennis?

A: “I started playing hockey in 5th grade when I was 11. I started playing lacrosse 4th grade. I never really played tennis that much, I just played mostly in the fall but I don’t play out of season. I started playing freshman or sophomore year.”

Q: What do you like most about the three sports?

A: “The biggest thing that I’ve gotten out of the sports is being able to be part of different communities and different groups of people. Whether it’s Blake sports or not, just being able to have another group of friends that you can relate to who aren’t school people is really cool. Or, if it is school people, you kind of get to see a different part of that person through sports. It’s just an amazing experience to be able to have these types of connections and relationships with people and also coaches.”

Q: What do you like specifically about the team environment?

A: “The best thing about the team environment is just being able to have a good trusting relationship with teammates. You go through the same thing as them and being able to relate to them and bond with them is extremely crucial to having a good team environment on the field, ice, or court. Also having a good relationship outside of the sports is really important to having a good relationship within the sports and it’s definitely a crucial part of how your team will play in competitions. I think being able to be welcoming to all your teammates is the most important part.”

Q: What are some of the benefits you’ve gained from playing these sports?

A: “The biggest benefit I’ve gained is all the relationships I’ve been able to create through all of my years in sports. I’m still really good friends with Minnetonka people from hockey and lacrosse and my club team from lacrosse, and I like being able to have those types of friendships that are with people out of school because you can kind of just leave everything that’s happening at school and be a part of a different, new environment where you don’t really have to worry about anything school related, whether it’s academic or just like drama. Having all the different types of relationships with different ages has been huge for me and I’m very grateful for all of them that I’ve created and still have.”

Q: What has your path to getting where you are been like (in terms of the three sports)? What has that journey looked like for you?

A:There have been a lot of ups and downs, that’s for sure. The main thing now as me being an upperclassman is that I know it was really difficult for me as an underclassman and in middle school when my parents would make me go to hockey captains and lacrosse captains because it was very stressful for me and I was put into environments that I wasn’t really comfortable in. I think just seeing my growth since then has been a lot, and now as a senior, I grew in terms of the confidence I’ve gained through the years, which has helped a lot with my performance. Another huge thing is that now because I am the oldest one, I feel like I’m able to create good relationships with younger students and make them feel welcomed. I try to make it the least stressful as possible because I know it was really hard for me and I don’t want it to be hard on them. It’s important to recognize that they [younger students] may be worried about how upperclassmen perceive them, which is why ensuring that they are treated the same despite their age is crucial and I try my best to comfort them in that sense.”

Q: As your last year playing high school sports, what do you hope to accomplish in your last two seasons?

A: “The main thing that I want to feel when I’m done is that I worked my hardest and I did everything that I could. When I get off the ice from my last hockey game I want to be proud of myself and I want to be able to say I did everything I could no matter what the results are. I know there are always going to be ups and downs in every season of every sport, but I hope that the ups will outweigh the downs in both hockey and lacrosse. This past tennis season I think I gave it my all and I’m proud of myself for improvements I made and my dedication, and I hope to carry that forward with me into hockey and then lacrosse.”

Q: How has it been throughout your years balancing three sports?

A: The academics have definitely been the easiest to balance with sports. I know that sounds like it wouldn’t be, but being able to have a set schedule of having tennis after school until a certain hour and having hockey or lacrosse after school until a certain time, allows me to have better time management throughout the day with my free blocks. For example, if I know I’ll have a game and that’ll take five hours compared to an hour of practice, I am able to use my time wisely in school. Honestly, I find it harder in between each sport season to do my work because I come home and I might not have practice or anything so then I might put off my work and start that later than I should. So balancing academics and sports has been the easiest part of that, but I think that one of the biggest challenges for me is balancing all three sports during the school year. During the summer it’s easy because I’m able to have all three sports during the day or have two because I have pretty open days, but during the actual in season sport, it’s really hard for me when it comes to the end of the season because I improved so much of my game for that specific sport. Then transitioning into the next season of a new sport is challenging for me because I’m kind of just thinking about the sport before that and usually I haven’t played the new sport as much as I’ve wanted to in the last weeks before that, so the hardest thing for me is just the start of the new seasons when I’m still thinking about the past sport and not being able to continue that sport.”

Q: Do you have any future plans for these three sports? What does your future look like with sports?

A: “I definitely want to continue playing sports because they’ve been a part of my whole childhood and I’ve never not played a sport. If I don’t play a varsity sport in college, I will definitely be playing club sports. I like them all and I don’t want to give up on them yet. Out of college, gee, I mean that’s five years away and I don’t know what’s going to happen after that, but it depends on what I do in college and which sports, if I continue them, I pursue and also see where that takes me with my future. Right now, I hope that I will still continue on with those sports in some form during and after college.”