The ball is always in Lydia Wacker’s court from November until March.
Whether it’s a 15-pound bowling ball, 20-ounce basketball or seven-ounce softball depends on the day — and time — for the Black River junior.
A star in all three, Wacker juggles the lanes and the court Monday through Saturday and then hits the diamond on Sunday for some indoor practice to get ready for the spring.
While she’s drained at the end of the week, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m very tired, but basketball, I love the game and love how you have to interact with other people,” Wacker said. “Bowling, I’ve been doing it since I was young. Now that I’m bowling with my sister (Lillie), it’s just more enjoyable.”
In any given week, she spends 22 to 24 hours practicing or playing one of the three sports. Many of the times, they coincide, making life a bit hectic.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, it’s usually a trip to the alley to compete in North Shore Conference action with the Pirates before hopping in her dad’s car to get to the court in time for a Patriot Athletic Conference game with the Black River basketball team.
“Every time I go out bowling, I come home sore,” Black River coach Wes Hockman said. “I don’t know how she can even shoot. She said she never gets that way. That’s what’s amazing to me. I’d end up sore from doing it wrong.”
The five-hour ritual is no sweat for Wacker, who makes the transition from one sport to the other without a hiccup.
It’s all in a day’s work as she helps the bowling team keep hold of its Division 2 stranglehold of first place in the NSC while also keeping the basketball team competitive in the PAC Stars Division.
The second she leaves the lanes, the 5-foot-5 shooting guard is all basketball and uses her time in between to change her attack from pins to pick-and-rolls.
“Most of the time, it’s done on the drive or in the locker room when I’m getting ready,” Wacker said. “After Coach comes in and talks to us, I just put my head down, clear my mind of what happened in bowling, whether it was good or bad, and focus on basketball. I can forget about it and go and play my hardest to try to get a win. I basically just go day-to-day. It’s a new day. It doesn’t matter. It’s just focusing on right now.”
That focus has her second on the team in average in bowling (166.0) behind her sister and just a tick behind Sarah Kozik with a 7.3 scoring average in basketball.
“I don’t know many people in their life that can juggle more than one thing in general anymore,” Black River bowling coach Nicki Eagon said. “She absolutely is the person that can set her mind and remain focused with no distraction.
“When she’s taking the lead on the basketball court or when she’s got a good game going, everyone feeds off of what she does. It’s a positive thing all around. She’s one to keep everyone hyped or keep them all focused.”
Drawn to both sports by the team atmosphere, Wacker doesn’t shy away from the leadership role. While bowling is an individual sport, Baker games consist of five bowlers coming together to register one score. Add the team aspect of basketball and Wacker is a leader in both sports.
“There’s an expectation in bowling and coming to basketball, Kozik is the kid they look up to the most and then Wacker after that,” Hockman said. “She’s a little too unselfish. She’s quiet, but we try to push her to talk about that a little more to get her voice heard in the huddle.”
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