Sissonville's Karli Pinkerton (left) tries to find a way around Charleston Catholic's Peyton Mullin during last fall's girls soccer regionals.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Sometimes there is no better feeling than just coming home, kicking off your shoes, relaxing on the couch and watching television after a long day.For Sissonville sophomore-to-be Karli Pinkerton, those days rarely occur.Pinkerton is a three-sport standout for the Indians. She fields balls as the shortstop for the softball team, plays midfield and wing on the soccer team and directs the offense as the point guard for the basketball team."They feel like full-time jobs because I have to work at it all the time to be successful,'' Pinkerton said of playing three sports. "They require dedication and effort. I also have to do my schoolwork. But I love doing it all."Even when school is out of session, Pinkerton expects to be busy, as West Virginia's three-week approved summer practice period starts Monday.On most school nights, she may not even open a book until 9 or 10 p.m. due to practice or a game. But that hasn't deterred her from achieving excellence in the classroom, as she has a 4.0 grade-point average taking honors classes."I have to stay up late at night to study for tests and do homework often,'' she said, "but I have my family to support me and get through it."
The physical demands and obligations for each sport, along with the educational requirements, have increased as Pinkerton has gotten older. But she's used to juggling three sports and her academics regularly."I have been playing three sports since I was like 5," Pinkerton said, "so it's really nothing new."While she does admit that giving up one of the sports would enable her to have more free time and focus on the other two, Pinkerton can't imagine giving up on her teammates, whom she considers family."I have had thoughts about maybe giving up soccer so I can work harder on softball and basketball," Pinkerton said. "But I couldn't let my teammates down, so I continue to play."
Her dedication is no surprise, though. Ask people in the community about Pinkerton and some of the more commonly used words to describe her would be "unselfish" and "team player.""Karli is a coach's dream," said Sissonville basketball coach Rich Skeen. "She does all the little things that fans won't always notice but her coaches do, and other coaches as well. Her best attribute is that she is a super person. She's a person that everyone wants to be around."She's not like some players that you may see her age. She doesn't get caught up in the individual awards and accolades. She is all about the team.""Karli is such an unselfish player," added soccer and basketball teammate Madison Jones. "I had the privilege of being named second-team all-state in basketball and she was a big reason why. A lot of my points came from her assists. She is a scoring threat herself, but she is always looking to get everyone in the game. She makes our team better."
Despite garnering Class AA all-state honorable mention in basketball and soccer, Pinkerton doesn't care if she ever gets recognized for another individual award during her career."I am so lucky to able to play sports with such talented girls as I do," Pinkerton said. "We push each other, and it makes us all better."Being recognized is nice, but all the sports I play are team sports. What means the most to me is doing what it takes to get wins. Ultimately, I would like to win a state championship in all three sports. Maybe even more."Despite the fact she fell short of that goal during her first year, Pinkerton put up exceptional numbers in her pursuit for those championships.She finished with 19 goals and 14 assists during the soccer regular season and carried a .361 batting average with 17 RBIs in softball. In basketball, she averaged 15.2 points, led the team in assists at four per game and was the second-leading rebounder, averaging 5.6 boards despite being one of the team's smallest players."During the summer, I continue to work at these sports," Pinkerton said. "I work out with trainers almost every day of the week. I'm participating in soccer workouts and travel softball practices. I'm playing for the West Virginia Wild 1's and being helped by a hitting instructor who's a member of the USA men's fast-pitch team.
"I am also playing in showcase tournaments, basketball workouts and different basketball tournaments. I always want to be the best at what I do."That attitude and determination may one day lead to her hoisting the team trophies she most covets.