Four years ago, when Jillian Pavlacka weighed her choices of which high school to attend, one factor was at the top of the list.
She wanted to compete in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse, and, although she considered Archbishop Spalding and Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Vincent Pallotti was the only school affording her the opportunity to play all three sports.
"I knew I would be a multi-sport athlete," Pavlacka said. "With the other schools, they wanted me to be exclusively one sport."
Of course, The 2012 Laurel Leader Athlete of the Year has done more than just play sports, considering she carried a 4.1 grade point average (on 4.0 scale), served as an editor of the school yearbook, worked as manager for the wrestling team and was a member of both the National and Spanish Honor societies.
On the field, the Laurel resident earned Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference all-star honors in lacrosse and served as a leader of the field hockey team while serving as a co-captain for both squads.
Pallotti field hockey coach Jeff Antonelli will remember the 5-foot-7 Pavlacka for her athletic accomplishments.
"She is an incredible athlete," he said. "She would definitely would be able to play any sport and excel at it. She has that drive, where she wants to win all the time. She brings that enthusiasm to all the girls to make them want to win all the time."
Pavlacka's best sport was lacrosse, leading the 10-6 Panthers in assists (26), draw controls (73) and caused turnovers (12), second in goals (61) and third in ground balls (34) on her way to being chosen the team's Most Valuable Player.
That followed a stellar junior year in which she racked up an eye-catching 92 goals and 20 assists.
"She had the best field sense of any player I had up there in three years," Pallotti lacrosse coach Paul Billingsley said. "It was her greatest asset. She was always in the right place at the right time. I think it got a little frustrating for her because the person working with her wasn't in the right place a lot of the time."
Pavlacka especially liked working with the younger Panthers.
"At Pallotti, some players are just learning the game," Billingsley said. "She is out there helping me coach on the field, putting people in the right spot. I was always late to practice because I was hustling from my office. When I got there, she had the players up and running."
Pavlacka turned in some standout performances this spring, racking up a season-high seven goals against Our Lady of Mount Carmel and also dominating Catholic High (5 goals, 5 assists) and Beth Tfiloh (5, 4).
The season, however, was about more than offense.
"I found myself being more well-rounded," said Pavlacka, who will attend Anne Arundel Community College before transferring to the University of Maryland, where she plans on playing club lacrosse. "I was doing a lot of different things. We lost seven seniors last year, so I knew I had to step up."
Pavlacka also started four years for the field hockey team and led the Panthers in goals last fall from her midfield position. Pallotti's lackluster record (1-10-1) may have hurt her chances to be a repeat all-conference pick, however.
Still, she made sure the team would taste at least one victory by notching the game-winning goal in Pallotti's only win, a 1-0 triumph over Key School in Annapolis.
"I relied on her as much as anybody," Antonelli said. "When she was on the field, there was a difference in the team. They way they played and their confidence. When she was on the field, everybody was more confident."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun