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Tale of two sports at Bishop's

03/09/2013, 11:02pm PST
By Glae Thien, Special to the U-T

Freshman from Rancho Santa Fe plays basketball, soccer in same season.


With a little planning and some help with transportation, Bishop's freshman Olivia Erlbeck was able to compete in basketball and soccer simultaneously during the winter season.

The same freshman who helped lead Bishop’s to a San Diego Section championship in girls soccer also started for the Knights basketball squad that reached the section finals.

Unable to pick between her two favorite sports, Olivia Erlbeck decided to play both during the overlapping winter seasons in high school. While she has taken on twice the workload, the Rancho Santa Fe resident also has doubled her pleasure.

“I’ve always played these two sports since I was young, and I always wanted to play both during high school,” said Erlbeck, whose two teams each advanced into Southern California Regional competition. “So I’m just happy that I’ve helped lead both of my teams to the (section) finals.”

In soccer, Erlbeck stepped right into the lineup as an attacking midfielder and recorded 16 goals and 16 assists through the regular season.

“Olivia’s flamboyant and outgoing,” Bishop’s soccer coach Brian Quinn said. “She has this confidence that only good players have. She hasn’t missed a beat. She came as a freshman and started. She has this stand like, ‘OK, what’s the next challenge?’?”

In basketball, Erlbeck soon established herself as a shooting guard who could move to the point position. With increased production as the season progressed, she closed the regular season averaging 7.4 points and 2.5 assists per game.

“Olivia is the ultimate competitor,” Knights basketball coach Marlon Wells said. “Every day at practice, she wants to be first in the sprints and first in every drill. If I say, ‘Hey, water break,’ she’s the first one over there to get water. She just competes and goes hard every time that she steps on the floor.”

As the schedules worked out, the 5-foot-5 Erlbeck played games in each sport on the same day about 60 percent of the time. There would be soccer with a 3:30 p.m. start, followed by basketball at 6 p.m.

Her mother, Stephany, and older brother, Luke, have provided transportation as needed. Still, the ability to handle games and practice depends on the inner drive of the younger Erlbeck.

“I’ve always had a lot of energy,” Olivia said. “I’ve grown up with three brothers, so that’s helped a lot with my competitiveness. I’m really competitive and want to win. That just pushes me. I might be tired during a practice and not have as much energy, but the willingness to give everything is still there.”

As a soccer highlight, Erlbeck converted a 35-yard free kick early in the second half for the deciding score in a 2-1 victory over Francis Parker in the section Division IV final.

Bishop’s entered the regional Division III playoffs as the top seed. Because of her involvement with an outside premier event March 3, Erlbeck was forced to sit out as the Knights won a quarterfinal match but lost in the semis.

Meanwhile, the Bishop’s basketball team opened the regional Division IV playoffs as the No. 3 seed after being beaten by powerful La Jolla Country Day in the San Diego Section finals. The Knights began regional play with a victory over Torrance Bishop Montgomery followed by a loss to Playa del Rey St. Bernard.

“Even though they’re different sports, I’m still the same player,” Erlbeck said. “There’s my vision. I’m really good at passing at soccer and basketball. It’s just a little different because it’s hard going from running on grass to running on the court.”

Still, she brings the same mantra to each venue.

“If you work hard, you build skills,” Erlbeck said. “Hard works pays off.”

With twice the pleasure in her case.

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