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Lister excels in all three sports

Northwestern has had plenty of successful three-sport female. Rising senior Ali Lister helped bring one team to a district championship, was a statistical leader on another, and has helped mold a new program on campus. Lister was voted the 2019-20 Lehigh Valley Health Network Northwestern Press Female Athlete of the Year.

“Being a student-athlete at Northwestern has allowed me the opportunity to be a bigger part of the community and make personal connections with so many peers, coaches, teachers, and community members,” said Lister. “I’ve gotten the chance to coach the future generations of girls through NYAA field hockey for the past four years and young boys and girls at the youth basketball camp hosted by the boys team every year.

“I receive year-round support and encouragement from countless parents, teachers and administrators. It is rare to go to school following a big game without at least one teacher asking the outcome and expressing their support.”

Over the last two years, Lister has starred in field hockey in the fall, basketball in the winter and lacrosse in the spring.

“Since my sophomore year when lacrosse became a program in our high school I have played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse,” Lister said. “I am so grateful that Northwestern allows me and other athletes the opportunity to play three sports and that [girls basketball head coach Chris] Deutsch, [field hockey and lacrosse head coach Lissa] Opolsky, and other coaches are so supportive of multi-sport athletes. A big part of what I love about being a three-sport athlete is having three-times the number of teammates that become my best friends. Regardless of the season, we have each other’s back and support each other in our different activities.

“By competing in different sports, I also gain different coaching perspectives and leadership roles. As far as favorites, I’ve always been a ‘love the season I’m in’ person, but it’s become clear nothing gives me the same thrill as a basketball game. I’ve definitely put the most work into basketball, while in contrast I’ve only played lacrosse for three years and have always joked I’m too tall for field hockey.”

Lister was the third- leading scorer on the Lady Tiger basketball team winter. She scored 9.58 points per game while playing in all of the teams 24 games. She also had 95 rebounds, 15 seven blocked shots and a team-high 158 assists last season.

Playing sports year-round can not only be difficult on an athletes body, but also their mind, balancing practices, games and everything else required, with the work that has to be done in the classroom to remain eligible to play.

“It definitely gets tough at times to manage school and sports year-round,” said Lister. “But I have learned really great time management skills from it and personally believe I am more productive with a busy schedule than I ever would be with lots of available time. I learned how helpful it is to use time provided during school hours to the fullest to avoid having excessive homework.”

Last fall, the Tigers field hockey team won the district championship, their first since 2004. It was something Lister, her teammates and coaches will never forget.

“Last year was the first time field hockey has won districts in 16 years, so it was a really big deal to us,” Lister said. “After losing in the championship game in the previous year, we came into last season with a clear purpose guided by coach Opolsky, a truly fantastic coach who has things running smoothly on and off the field. With 10 seniors and all except one returning starter, we have high hopes for this year as well.”

In a little over a month, Lister will begin her final year of high school. She is looking forward to playing all three sports and continuing the winning of last year, while also enjoying one last year with her teammates.

“I couldn’t be more excited for senior year,” said Lister. “Hopeful that everything goes as planned, I’ll be playing all three sports again. My sisters and I grew up watching girls like Sara Jones as incredible three-sport athletes and leaders so it is truly so surreal to me that now I am in the position to lead my teammates and step into the final chapter of my journey as a high school student-athlete.”

Heading into her final seasons of high school sports, Lister has begun the process of finding the right college, not only about which sport she wants to play, but which college has the right major and feel.

“I am currently in the recruiting process of finding a school I can thrive in [both] in the classroom and the basketball court,” Lister said. “Throughout July I have attended some tournaments with my AAU team to provide film and opportunity for coaches to see me play. I’ve been exposed to college basketball through my sister Leighanna, who plays at Georgian Court University, and I want to follow in her footsteps and play at the next level.

“My ultimate goal is to play basketball in college, not go to college for basketball. I am not set on an exact major yet but I have considered biomedical engineering, occupational therapy and clinical psychology. As far as college choices, I have some favorites at all levels, but I am keeping all options open for now as the future is unclear and so many things could change in the coming months, but I have faith it will work out and I’ll find myself in a place I will fit in well and can make an impact on those around me.”