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Scholar-athletes: McGuinness' Elyse Hight juggles school, multiple sports

Soccer earned her a scholarship to Notre Dame, but she also starred in basketball, track and volleyball, while keeping up with her sister in the classroom.
by Scott Wright Published: July 7, 2012

“Offseason” is a foreign word to Elyse Hight.

The recent Bishop McGuinness graduate began playing soccer while she was still a toddler, and took up basketball not long after. In elementary school, she added track and field, then high school brought volleyball.

She stuck with all four sports through her senior year, graciously declining the requests of a few coaches to choose only one. She attempted softball for a year, and had to turn down more than one football coach asking her to be the team's punter.

The years have been filled with overlapping practices of two, sometimes three, sports. Changing uniforms and eating dinner in the car on the way to the next game.

“It was always a juggling act with her school work, her club sports and her school sports,” said her mother, Nan Hight. “But it was worth it.”

Sports were always a natural part of Hight's life, and in that respect, she's the exact opposite of her older sister, Elena. The family laughingly points out that Elena met her physical education requirement by taking a bowling class.

Elena was her high school's valedictorian. Elyse uses words like “book worm” and “teacher's pet” to describe her sister — and that's where they're most alike.

Elyse, winner of the Bob Colon Scholarship presented by The Oklahoman and the Jim Thorpe Association to the top female high school scholar-athlete in the Oklahoma City area, finished high school with a weighted 4.1 grade-point average and 29 ACT score. She signed to play soccer at Notre Dame.

“I would ask her, ‘You've got your sports, you've got these other things you're doing, you've got your academic responsibilities; do you really need to take this AP class?'” said her father, Joe Hight. “And the answer was always ‘Yes, I have to take this class.' She always pushed herself.”

Elyse had some external motivation, too — both courtesy of her big sister.

“I always had to come into a class expecting the teacher to be thinking, ‘OK, that's Elena's sister, she's probably going to be smart,'” Elyse said. “Elena always stayed on me. She would tell me, ‘You're not doing sports if you don't get good grades!'”

In the athletic realm, Elyse's inspiration could always be found taped to her wrist. That's where she wrote two sets of initials, “M.A.” and “W.L.”

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by Scott Wright
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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