Madison Balthrop and her father drove to Manchester so she could play a practice round in advance of Boyd-Buchanan's participation in the Class-A/AA state championship Tuesday and Wednesday at Willowbrook Golf Course.
Balthrop played a quick 18 holes.
She had to. Or else she would have been tardy to Boyd-Buchanan volleyball practice.
Multi-sport athletes are common in Chattanooga area high schools. But playing two sports in the same season is a little more rare.
"I've had to miss a few golf matches because because of volleyball," Balthrop said, "and I've had to miss a few volleyball games because of golf."
She loves both sports even though they are vastly different in nature. Volleyball, as a fast-paced reaction sport is a stark contrast to golf where the action is relatively static, stoic and solitary until the ball is struck.
She loves both teammates and solitude.
"I really like the idea of playing on a a team and a lot of my friends are on the team," said Baltrhop, an outside hitter on the court. "With golf, you are constantly having to improve and do something better. It's an individual game, so you don't depend on anyone else."
Balthrop will be joined at the Class-A/AA state tournament by teammate Lauren Foster.
"Last year, they were playing experienced players who were shooting low," Boyd-Buchanan coach Ed Connelly said. "This year, they know that they can go low. I think they'll be ready to compete."
The Lady Bucs will be competing against friendly competition. The Signal Mountain girls' golf team qualified for the championship once again after winning the trophy the last three years.
The East Hamilton and Signal Mountain boys' teams will also play, pitch and putt for a state championship this week. The Eagles are making their first appearance in the team competition. The Lady Ealges are searching for a fourth straight state championship.
"There's no pressure," coach Rodney Mitchell said. "We're excited to have the opportunity. Just having the opportunity to win a state championship is special.
"Now, it's just a golf match."
And for Balthrop, that is much different than a volleyball match.
"Right now, I feel like I can do both sports," Balthrop said. "But later on, I have to make a decision. And if I have to choose, it will probably be golf."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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