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In a time of sport specialization, GW’s Kalissa Lacy stars in 4 sports

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When the pandemic halted all high school sports around West Virginia on March 12, Kalissa Lacy’s hectic schedule was suddenly clear.

“I have just been trying my best to stay busy,” Lacy said. “The day that softball got canceled, I decided to improve my (basketball) game even more. So I got a weight trainer. Since I am so busy, I usually don’t have much time to lift weights. The virus is actually going to help my game, to get bigger, stronger and faster for next year.”

Time off is not a common occurrence for Lacy. She not only competes in, but excels in four sports at George Washington High School. The rising senior was an all-state soccer standout this past fall in leading the Patriots to the Class AAA state semifinals. In the winter, Lacy was not only named the state basketball player of the year, she also competed in three events at the state swim meet and helped the Patriots win the state championship. Her softball season was ultimately canceled.

“I have been playing four sports since I was around four or five years old. I think the support system I have behind me is just so awesome. All the coaches at GW support me in all the sports I do. With all the sports I do, it helps to prevent injuries and keeps me in shape year-round for all the sports, not only for basketball.”

Lacy’s schedule is most compressed in the winter, when basketball and swimming compete simultaneously.

“Swimming works every single muscle in your body. And I think that’s what helps with my endurance.”

Many high school athletes are trending towards ‘sport specialization’, focusing on one sport to enhance their college prospects. Lacy has gone against the trend.

Throughout the past year, Lacy has focused on building all aspects of her basketball game and results followed. As a junior, she became the first GW player to win the state player of the year honor.

“At the end of last summer, that’s when I decided that basketball was what I wanted to play at the next level. I obviously still play all my other sports to help me get ready for basketball. But that’s when I saw a big change in my game. In my sophomore year, I averaged 19 points per game. Once I decided to focus more on basketball, in my junior year I scored 25 points per game.

“In my sophomore year, I was mainly seen as just a three-point shooter. I didn’t like that. I wanted to evolve my game all the way around. So I worked on my drives to the basket, getting bigger, faster and stronger. That’s what really improved my game.”

Lacy has earned a pair of Division I scholarship offers from Coastal Carolina and Presbyterian. She has been in contact with about fifteen different schools as she looks forward to making her college choice. Lacy plans to major in exercise science or physical therapy.

“I have been going on a lot of different virtual tours. But it is not the same as being on campus. Whenever you go on a campus, you get a feel for the school and the vibe you get is different from when you do it virtually.”

During the three-month hiatus from competition, Lacy has focused on weight training while keeping her hoop skills sharp.

“I have definitely seen a lot of gains. I have been upping my weight recently and I have been changing my body by getting more lean. I am in better shape right now. With all the gyms closed, I have a hoop in my driveway that I have been practicing on.”

In Lacy’s crowded sports resume, one didn’t quite fit when she was young.

“Funny story — I actually used to do karate. I did that for a couple years. My brother did karate so I kind of tagged along. I kind of decided that really wasn’t for me.”

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