Calderwood finds sports and grades are compatible

Falcon three-sport athlete Cayla Calderwood takes a break after volleyball and before basketball starts. In the spring, she’ll be on the track team, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average. - Jeff VanDerford / The Record
Falcon three-sport athlete Cayla Calderwood takes a break after volleyball and before basketball starts. In the spring, she’ll be on the track team, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Record

Falcon senior Cayla Calderwood is something of a contradiction.

Coming off a winning season as co-captain of the school’s volleyball team, Calderwood is getting ready for the winter girls basketball season.

In the spring, Calderwood will begin her quest for a fourth-straight appearance as a triple jumper for South Whidbey at the state track finals in Tacoma.

So, she’s a jock.

Then there’s the matter of her grade-point average, a perfect 4.0. When not making kills, shooting baskets or high-jumping, she’s actively applying to Ivy League universities back East.

So, she’s a geek, right?

Actually, she is neither, but simply an ordinary high school senior who likes to watch “Lord of the Rings” movies and comedies like “Zoolander,” listen to Jason Mraz and Red Hot Chili Peppers — though raised on a steady diet of Bob Marley and Nirvana — and will eat anything put before her.

Her sister, Hannah, said Cayla has only three questions at mealtimes: “Is it ready? Can I eat it? Is there more?”

Calderwood, 17, said she’s had an outstanding education at South Whidbey’s public schools.

“The district is loaded with amazing teachers, and I’ve learned something of value from each,” she said. “I was urged by some people to look at Kamiak and Archbishop Murphy on the mainland back in middle school, but I’m so glad I stayed.”

Some of the instructors who made a difference in high school were Greg Ballog, Andy Davis, David Nelson, Steve Durbin and Mark Eager.

“I’ve always thought it was sad when students leave school without giving it a chance,” she said. “These teachers, and others I’ve had, really rock even as they cast an intellectual perspective on their subject matter.”

Calderwood maintains an open mind about life. As a freshman, she was 100-percent certain that studying English would be her chosen path.

“But I discovered I really like math best. I think I’ll wait until I graduate and move on to see what works best, which is what college is for,” Calderwood noted.

If she were forced to make a choice, she would pick basketball as her favorite sport.

“I was raised with it. The sound of a basketball simply bouncing, or going through the net, is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.

“Also, it’s a real contact sport, if you catch my drift,” she added.

She’s proud as well of her performance in track. She prefers the triple jump — “it’s sort of like competitive hopscotch” — describing it as a goofy sport that’s also very demanding.

But track was also the cause of her sports career low point.

In her sophomore year, Calderwood overdid it. The stress of basketball and constantly landing hard triple jumps and high jumps created a stress fracture in her lower vertebrae that wasn’t diagnosed until later that fall.

“It cost me a state championship when the other girl beat me by less than an inch,” she recalled. “I reached down to get my sweats and couldn’t get up — it was undiluted agony.”

Since coaches are prohibited on the field at state finals, she remained alone on the track amid the swirl of action; it was some time before anyone realized Calderwood couldn’t stand up.

“It was humiliating, especially after trying so hard to win,” she said. She spent a good part of the following year in a fiberglass body cast.

That was then, this is now.

As her senior year reaches its apogee, she has nothing but praise for her coaches. She started playing volleyball for Mandy Jones at Langley Middle School in the seventh grade and was promptly cut from the team.

“She saw an athlete, not a volleyball player, and I’ve enjoyed proving her wrong.”

She can’t think of any coach she’d rather play for other than Henry Pope.

“He knows my style and respects the effort I’ve put in over the years to be a better basketball player,” she said. “He’s an exceptional man.”

Then there is Coach Eager, who has shepherded her progress in track and field during her high school career.

“He helped me grow as a jumper because he knows so much and he’s so dedicated to the sport,” Calderwood said. “And I want to officially thank him for putting up with all my teasing over the years.”

In the end, Calderwood sees no inconsistency in being good at sports and smart in the classroom.

“For me, it’s been a great experience and I’ll miss this place,” she said. “But there’s life after high school, and I’m ready for it.”

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