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Longhorn pair learning to shuffle

Natalie Winters (12) earned the job as starting point guard on the varsity basketball team as a sophomore last year.
She also had an outstanding year in softball making the Tomahawk’s All Johnson/Carter team.
Abby Cornett (25) earned a lot of playing time as a
sophomore on the hardwood and started in center field
on the softball team. File Photos Tim Chambers



By Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

The average student looks forward to their summer break because it means vacation time and relaxation. It also means going swimming, hiking, beach trips, and fishing. You also can take a boat ride or water ski with Watauga Lake being only minutes away.
That’s not always the case when you are a three-sport athlete like rising juniors Natalie Winters and Abby Cornett are. The reason is quite simple.
Both are members of the varsity basketball softball, and volleyball teams and all three sports have different times they work out during the summer months. The players touched on time management.
“It’s hard to fit them all into your schedule because you have so much that is going on during the summer,” said Winters. “We have our set practice times, but you also want to work on your own to try and get better. We go to ball camps, and we have morning practices, but you get better by putting in the extra time. You have to if you want to play and be good at the varsity level. It’s so much different than middle school.”
It’s worth noting that both girls said that volleyball workouts were optional for now, but they go to try and get better. That’s part of being a competitor.
“Every player is always working hard to get a starting position or gain a lot of playing time,” said Cornett. “It’s that way in any sport. You always want to show the coaches that you’re getting better. The only way to do that is to put the time in on your own.”
The girls will close out summer basketball practice today with a trip to Gate City, Virginia. They were in Greeneville on Monday and Tuesday.
“It’s been fun getting back out on the court, but it has also shown us where we need to be at,” said Winters. “We’ve been playing for two years now, so we’re tired of just playing teams close. We want to win.”
Cornett added. “We all enjoy it because basically, all our friends do it. We usually hang out around one another after practices. We still find the time to do a lot of things when we can. You just have to manage your time wisely.”
Both girls agreed that all the coaches were great to work with. The recent hire of Greg Reece as head softball coach at the high school won’t be a problem for the two.
“We all played for Coach Greg in middle school, and he’s not only a coach but a friend too,” said Cornett. “He’s very approachable and easy to talk with. We shouldn’t have a problem adjusting to his style.”
Winters agreed with Cornett assessment on Reece being a good coach plus a friend. She put a beach trip on the shelf to be here for softball tryouts when they roll around.
“We were looking at taking a trip after basketball was over but I want to be here for tryouts,” added Winters. “We have to prove ourselves all over again although he knows what we can do and saw us play some this year. He’s going to carry more players so you don’t take anything for granted because everyone will be expecting to play. That includes the ones who didn’t play this year.”
The good part about all is that practices don’t run together with one another. The required volleyball practices will begin immediately after basketball is completed.
Softball tryouts will begin on June 16. Finding the time to be good at all three won’t be a problem for the duo. Winters recently proved that.
She found the time to play travel softball for a weekend with softball teammates Hannah Brooks and Emmy Miller despite her busy schedule. She and Cornett wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We not just out there to play we’re out there to win,” said Winters. “I believe we can be good at softball and basketball and our volleyball team should be much improved. We want teams to respect us.”
Cornett added. “We can’t use the excuse that we’re young anymore. It’s time we stepped up and started winning. That’s why we work hard over the summer.”