On a cool and windy Friday afternoon in the middle of softball season, the Palo Alto High School softball team hosted the Santa Clara Bruins at their home field. It was a typical regular season league game, and the Vikings uneventfully fell short by a score of 6-1. It was during the last inning when the Vikings, having been out-dueled all game offensively by the pitching of Bruins phenom Kathryn Caravalho, finally showed signs of life for the first time.
Freshman first baseman Sophie Frick worked the count full against Caravalho, who prior to the at-bat had only allowed two hits in the game. Even though her team trailed by six runs, Frick continued to persist by fouling off multiple pitches. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, she ripped a double down the left-field line, knocking in the first run of the game for the Vikings, her teammates and coaches applauding. She’s been doing that kind of thing all season.
Playing on a team with 10 upperclassmen, it would be natural to assume that Frick wouldn’t receive the starting job at first base and a spot in the middle of the order. But after an impressive performance early in the season, her manager Bill Laskey did just that.
As it turns out, Frick isn’t just good at softball. In the fall, she helped lead the girls’ water polo team’s push into the CCS playoffs. Later, she became a part of Coach Scott Peters’ eight-player rotation, playing key minutes throughout a championship season for girls’ basketball. She also finished in the top three on the softball team in hits (18), runs batted in (14), and batting average (.316), according to MaxPreps.com.
After a class online vote that featured eight Paly athletes, Frick’s accomplishments this year were enough to earn recognition as the Paly Voice’s Athlete of the Year.
For many young athletes around the world, the title “student-athlete” applies for one particular sport. Maybe two. Playing three sports year-round in high school is a feat that requires not just athleticism, but patience, determination, and a consistently assiduous attitude. What about three sports, all at the varsity level, as a freshman in high school? Is that even sustainable?
For Frick, it’s more than just possible. It’s a lifestyle. Palo Alto High School’s next super-athlete is loving every moment of Paly sports.
“I don’t know if I could just pick a favorite [sport],” Frick said in a recent interview. “My favorite is the one that I’m playing at the time during the season.”
The time management required to juggle high school academics and overlapping sports games and practices has always been a part of Frick’s teenage lifestyle.
“I’ve been used to the timing [of playing multiple sports],” Frick said. “I did the same thing in middle school where I was playing a sport throughout every season, so I’m definitely used to the time management and doing homework when I have free time especially. It hasn’t been that hard this year, and it definitely helps with managing my time.”
Frick began playing sports at an early age, beginning with basketball, and baseball as well, during kindergarten. According to Frick, she played little league baseball until fifth grade before switching over to softball in sixth grade, the year that she was introduced to water polo. Both of her older siblings, Andrew, a current freshman at Claremont McKenna College, and Maddie, a sophomore at Paly, have experience playing sports in high school.
“They are both as athletic as I am, if not more,” Frick said humbly. “Watching them grow up really pushed me to thrive in sports. I also love the feeling of winning and making a team. I think it’s really cool how teammates form and how close a team comes together.”
Throughout the year, Frick acted in a very mature manner for a freshman. Despite a minimal amount of playing time in certain sports, she maintained a positive attitude and focused more on team success, not just her own.
“The hardest part of this year was probably during basketball season when I did not play very often for stretches,” Frick said. “I got a good amount of minutes during the regular season primarily, which I was very happy about. It was during practice when I would just try to continue to be a team player and not get down on myself or others as well.”
Many of Frick’s teammates, including junior water polo player Katie Francis, acknowledged her outgoing personality and supportiveness, especially in practice.
“Sophie is very fun to be around and has a bubbly personality,” Francis said. “She is a very supportive teammate and pushes you hard in practice, which is good for the team.”
Other teammates expressed Frick’s positivity and ability to get along with teammates easily.
“She is very supportive of all of us, especially bringing people up and our spirits up when we are down,” freshman basketball guard Carly Leong said. “She brings positivity by being the best teammate a person can have.”
“She is super easy to get along with and is so friendly and outgoing that she fit right in with our team,” junior Maddy Atwater said, a basketball and softball teammate of Frick’s. “She was a great teammate on the court and an even better friend off the court.”
Frick says that her favorite moment was winning the league championship during basketball season, especially with a team that had no seniors.
“Winning leagues in basketball was an extremely special experience, especially considering it doesn’t just happen that easily or often,” Frick said. “We also had a really young team, which makes it all the better.”
Frick added that strong coaching in both water polo and softball were key to her enjoyment of sports this year.
“It was great to get better at water polo and have really awesome coaches at the same time,” Frick said. “My softball coach Bill Laskey also knows how to coach effectively, and even though he can get a little mad at times, it’s all for making us [players] better.”
According to Frick, unlike basketball and water polo, softball and the immediate impact she was able to make on the softball team provided her with a surge of confidence for the future.
“Softball and the playing time gave me an incredible amount of confidence, especially coming in about four weeks after tryouts,” Frick said. “I didn’t even know the coach personally. It was nice to go in right after basketball and start right away, knowing that the coach trusted me and the team trusted me to do what I could as a freshman. It did mean a lot to start and bat in the middle of the order even with a lot of the older players on the team.”
When asked if Frick looked up to a particular teammate, the first name that came to mind was a basketball teammate, junior guard Courtney Lovely.
“Coco is an overall extremely positive, well-rounded person and obviously a very good basketball player too,” Frick said.
Given her noteworthy talent, Frick says she hopes to play all three sports for as long as she can. While nothing can take away her hard-working, focused and caring attitude, Frick says that only the hectic nature of high school would prevent her from competing for the duration of all four years.
“As of right now, I am hoping to play for as long as I can; hopefully all four years,” Frick said. “I know that it gets busy as a junior with SATs and as a senior with college apps, so if I feel overwhelmed I will probably step out of one or two sports. That being said, I really hope I will continue to manage my time well enough so that I can play all three sports throughout high school.”
When she’s not practicing or competing, Frick is passionate about music and television, especially when it involves her siblings.
“I am passionate about music, mostly finding new music in general,” Frick said. “I’m also very passionate about watching TV. I have a lot of shows that I’m always up to date with.”
According to Frick, her primary goals for the next few years are to establish strong bonds with teammates. As for looking beyond her time at Paly, Frick says that playing in college would be a dream come true.
“I pursue sports for obviously the awesomeness of school legacy and to win championships and building teams that you’ll remember for the rest of your life,” Frick said. “I would also love to play a sport in college if I ever get the opportunity. I think it would be really fun and really pursuing a dream.”