The 2020-21 Colorado high school sports season was far from normal. While cross country, men’s golf, football, softball, and men’s tennis were played in the fall, the rest of the sports were pushed back to the springtime. With the end of a tumultuous school year, we’ve decided to look ahead and highlight three standout student-athletes at North High School who are heading into their senior year:
Chloe Avant – Women’s Golf:
Heading into her freshman year at North High School, Chloe Avant hadn’t played in a golf tournament. Growing up, she wasn’t into sports, focusing much of her attention on music and the arts. Avant hadn’t considered herself an athlete, that was, until she started going to golf camps in middle school and took a liking to the sport.
While finding success on the course, Avant has remained active in the golf community. She’s a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Generation Z Council for Equality in Golf and has made friends from across Colorado – and different states – during her time playing. While there’s still competition and frustrating aspects of playing golf, she’s found enjoyment in the sport and a sense of belonging through the people she’s met.
“I feel like I gravitated towards golf because of the community,” Avant said. “The girls I’ve played with and met through tournaments are some of my favorite people ever. Finding a young community of girls playing golf is really rare.”
Previously, Avant feels she struggled with the mental aspect of golf. Now, she’s gained better composure, turning a weakness into a strength.
“This year, there was a big improvement to where I wasn’t being as obsessive over certain shots,” Avant said. “I was able to focus on the shot at hand and let go of the things behind me. When I have that sense of peace when I’m playing, it lets me focus more.”
Gavin Shary – Soccer & Baseball:
A right backer in soccer, and shortstop, center fielder, and pitcher in baseball, Gavin Shary feels playing both sports has made him a better overall athlete. As the senior enters his final year of high school, he’s learned and grown on-and-off the field.
“It’s taught me dedication, working hard, how to communicate with people, and I’ve tried being a leader,” Shary said. “Sports help people learn about themselves and grow into who they’ll be in the future.”
For Shary, the quick turnaround between sports and a crowded schedule – playing baseball even after finishing classes – has forced him to stay focused. During the two-year hiatus between games, he was able to train with college athletes, which provided a routine and work ethic to emulate. Shary also decided to pick up pitching, utilizing a three-pitch arsenal, which includes both two and four seam fastballs, to go along with an off-speed slider.
“The different looks on the fastball can really play with a hitter because they both look very similar – they’re both a fastball – but they’re completely different pitches,” Shary said. “They both play off my slider really well because I feel like I can really locate my slider.”
This spring has been a balancing act for Sharry – among playing multiple sports, focusing on school, and starting to create a list of potential colleges. Through the hectic stretch, he’s embracing the opportunity to play the rest of this season and his senior year, while not taking a moment for granted.
“Watching the seniors of the 2020 class lose their season, I’m valuing getting to play ball and being a kid again,” Shary said.
Jazmyne Cook – Women’s Basketball
For guard Jazmyne Cook, getting used to playing during the pandemic was a major adjustment. The women’s basketball team was required to wear masks during practices and games. In a stamina driven sport, she recalls many players having difficulty breathing when running up and down the court.
“It was hard, I feel like a lot of us could’ve performed better without it,” Cook said. “Physically it was very hard to breath, and mentally, just knowing you had the mask on, was making you think ‘oh this is making it a lot harder.”
Compliance with the mask protocols also determined whether or not those on the team could play.
“Our coaches would say ‘keep your mask on’ because they didn’t want any reason for the refs to take us out of the game,” Cook said.
Unable to practice in the gym due to COVID protocols, Cook spent a lot of time training and practicing outside. To try and reach peak performance, the soon-to-be senior also placed an emphasis on conditioning and making sure she was eating healthy. The nutritious boost before practicing or working out helped Cook improve her stamina over the course of the season.
While knocking down shots on the hardwood, Cook’s also excelled in the classroom, where she’s earned a 3.6 GPA. She credits basketball for helping her stay motivated in school.
“It definitely kept me in check with my grades,” Cook said. “There was never a time where I wanted to miss a game or sit out.”
Jack Stern is a Denver based freelance multimedia journalist, reporting on all things Colorado. Previously, he covered the Colorado Buffaloes football and basketball team for SBNation and Rivals.com.