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Profile: Kayla Usborne; two-sport wonder

by Sarah Killip - Staff Writer
Wed, Mar 11th 2020 05:00 pm
Kayla Usborne drives to the basket against a player from Alfred University on Friday, Nov. 15.
Kayla Usborne drives to the basket against a player from Alfred University on Friday, Nov. 15.

Being a multi-sport athlete brings many opportunities, but it carries a workload equivalent to two full time jobs. Freshman Kayla Usborne started playing both soccer and basketball in fourth grade. Since then, she has endured hours of practices and training and made the transition to become a multi-sport athlete in college. 

Usborne played soccer on a youth club team up until seventh grade. The following year she started her high school career and tested up to play on the varsity team in eighth grade. 

“My eighth grade year was my first year as a goalkeeper,” Usborne said. “The keeper that my varsity team had the year prior had graduated and they needed the spot filled. I had never played in the keeper position before, but the varsity coach asked if I wanted to fill that spot in a summer soccer game and the position just stuck.”

Similar to her soccer career, Usborne played junior varsity basketball in seventh grade and quickly moved up to varsity the following year. 

“I grew up watching basketball as a little kid and always wanted to play at the collegiate level,” Usborne said. “Some of my best high school memories came from the basketball court.”

Usborne spent so much time participating in sports throughout high school, the time commitment of being involved with two college sports teams wasn’t a surprise. There are differences, but the passion she has for the game is the same.

“In the fall, I would play high school soccer and then be playing fall ball for basketball on the weekends,” Usborne said. “When I was in basketball season I would transition into playing indoor soccer, and in the spring, when I started high school softball, I started travelling for AAU basketball. There were many days that I would leave from one practice or game and I would have to get changed in the car on the way to a different practice or game.”

Transitioning between sports in college, however, can be challenging. Aside from the physical toll athletics can take on the body, shifting to a new sport without a good amount of time off can require extra mental focus and determination to the sport at hand. 

“Being a multi-sport athlete in college is not easy at times,” Usborne said. “The hardest part for me was not getting a break at all during the transition between sports. The day after we lost in the SUNYAC semifinals for soccer, I started the season for basketball. It was a whole new atmosphere transitioning from soccer to basketball. I came into the basketball season about three weeks late because of the season overlap between soccer and basketball. I knew some of the girls on the team but had not practiced or played with any of them. I didn’t know the defense that my coach wanted us to run or any of the plays on the offensive end. It took me a couple of weeks to get the defense down and have all of the plays memorized. All of my teammates and coaches helped me a lot during the transition though and made sure that I never felt out of place.”

The transition between sports continues as Usborne shifts back from basketball into spring soccer. There have been several practices missed for each sport solely because her time is spent focused on the current sport at hand. The coaching staff from both teams have helped Usborne stay involved even when she is “out of season.”

When school work is added on top of athletics, that creates a dynamic which requires just as much, if not more, focus and commitment. 

“It was a big adjustment learning to balance everything in college compared to high school, but like anything, it just took some time to get used to,” Usborne said. “For basketball, we have mandatory study hall hours that we must complete every week. Having study hall hours really helps me to stay focused on all of my school work. I just have to stay on top of everything because many weekends we play games Friday and Saturday and I need to make sure that I am caught up with work in all of my classes for days that we have away games and I miss class.”

Over the years, Usborne has had support from her coaches, teammates and parents. Being a parent of a multi-sport athlete requires just as much commitment as the athlete gives. Usborne’s parents were both very involved in her sporting events.

“Being a parent to a multi-sport athlete takes dedication and communication,” Alyson Usborne, Kayla’s mother, said. “Dedication to the fact you have to watch heartbreak and victory. Communication because you are always on the go. The 32,000 miles we put on our car is a testament that we are all in as a family. We celebrate the wins and learn from the losses.”

Usborne was a strong player on the basketball court throughout high school, scoring over 1,000 points and leading her team to sectional finals. Transitioning from soccer to basketball in college set her back a handful of practices and required some extra time to catch up. As the season continued, Kayla Usborne didn’t see as much playing time as she had been used to, but that didn’t alter her love for the sport.

“I had to learn to be a leader from the bench and not on the court,” Kayla Usborne said. “That really was the best takeaway from either season for me. If I could just take one thing away from both my soccer and basketball seasons this year, it would be that. I have grown so much as a person just from playing both sports. I have learned to help lead my team and use my voice off the court even when I am not in the game. I will take the confidence and knowledge of using my voice that I gained this basketball season for the following seasons and more importantly, also for when I become a coach.”

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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