The Live Oak High softball team was in the midst of a blowout victory at Willow Glen High on April 13, which gave Emma Courtney peace of mind as she exited the game early. It was 5:15pm, meaning the senior had roughly 45 minutes to arrive on time for the start of the Acorns’ home soccer match against Leigh.
Changing uniforms in her car, Courtney got to Live Oak with room to spare. Such is the life for athletes like Courtney and fellow Live Oak senior Emily Funk, who are allowed to play multiple sports—including club/traveling teams—at the same time under the state’s modified 2020-21 sports calendar. Even then, school districts have the final say as they must also give permission to allow student-athletes to play multiple sports in the same season.
A month ago, Courtney was doing triple duty, going to school soccer practices in the morning before online classes started and then having field hockey matches and softball practice in the afternoon and evening. Currently, Courtney’s schedule has gotten a little less hectic, as field hockey season ended three weeks ago.
Funk, a member of the school’s soccer and golf teams, is now the one who is doing triple duty as she balances those sports along with club soccer practice with the Orchard Valley Toros Monday and Thursdays at 7:30pm.
“It’s hard sometimes, but you just get through it,” said Funk, the Acorns’ No. 1 golfer and a forward on the soccer team. “I stay on top of my school work and try to get it all done early so when I get home from practice, I can relax and not worry about it.”
A goalkeeper on Live Oak’s soccer team and a center fielder on the softball squad, Courtney said scheduling conflicts constitute the toughest part of balancing up to three sports at a time. Games between the different teams don’t usually overlap, but on the days they do, Courtney might have to miss a couple of innings for a softball game or several minutes for a soccer match.
“It usually works out where I can do both and not miss much if any part of a game,” she said.
Courtney and Funk like the diversity of playing different sports. Although golf is more of an individual sport, standouts like Funk have the opportunity to be a great teammate by giving tips to others and leading by example. Funk only took up golf in her freshman year; Courtney did the same with field hockey.
Both mentioned the positive aspect of being with friends as a reason for doing sports. Funk, who shot a 45 in the league opener, possesses a strong driving game. She also has a cumulative 4.5 GPA and earned some scholarship money to attend Boise State University in the fall.
Courtney plans on attending the University of Arizona, which means this is likely the final time she’ll be playing competitive organized sports.
Live Oak Notes
Live Oak girls golf coach Mike Rubino mentioned Leila Deleon, Natalie Casarez and Kayla Ishibashi as players who will also play a key role for the team this season. Anticipating a possible shortage of players and with two seniors from last season’s team not returning this year, Rubino posted an email in the school registrar recruiting students to try out for the golf team.
“I got a really big response, which was good,” he said.
The recruiting efforts led to eight new girls being added to this year’s team. The recruitment effort wasn’t entirely different from the one Rubino engineered 22 years ago, when, upon leaving his post as the school’s famed marching band, he helped launch the school’s girls golf team in 1999 out of his flute and clarinet section from the band.
“When I was retiring from the marching band, a bulletin came out on the P.A. system saying the school needed a girls golf coach because of Title Nine,” Rubino said.
A mere 22 years later, Rubino is still the only person to ever coach the team. It’s players like Funk that keep him going.
“She’s an inspiring player who works really hard, and you appreciate that,” Rubino said. “She’s a pretty amazing young lady.”