April 19, 2006 - High school sports are notorious for producing multi-sport athletes. Many schools even rely on them to sustain their programs.
Kelly Zimmer is a multi-sport athlete in every sense of the word. Like many students at Canyon Del Oro High School, Zimmer competes in three sports. What separates the junior from her peers, however, are the sport she chooses: tennis and track and field, two sports held during the same season.
"I love it," said Zimmer of pulling double duty during the spring. "I live for sports so I make it work."
During the winter, Zimmer is a starting forward of the run-and-gun CDO girls basketball team that won the Class 4A Sonoran Region before being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
Zimmer was named the team's offensive player of the year.
"I think it's great these kids that can balance their schoolwork and still strive and have a strong ethic when they go from sport to sport," said CDO girls basketball head coach Kerri Brown. She's a great example of a kid who can play high school sports and still do well academically."
Zimmer's weeks are busy ones. On Monday she will split practices, doing 30 to 45 minutes at tennis and track and field. She'll repeat the same on Friday if there isn't a tennis match. Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for tennis matches, while Wednesdays belong to track and field.
Because track and field events are always held on Wednesdays, a conflict with tennis rarely arises. When it does, Zimmer often chooses track and field - unless the tennis match is an important one for the team.
She began her two-sport varsity career as a sophomore and plans on continuing through her senior year.
"It was hard," said Zimmer of playing both sports as a sophomore. "But it's a lot harder this year because junior year is the hardest academically. It's definitely kept me on my toes; by the weekend I am extremely exhausted."
When Zimmer finds free time, she spends it either sleeping or doing homework. The hard work has paid off: Her report card is filled with nothing lower than a B.
Zimmer wasn't originally going to do track. It took the prodding of Jordan Powell - one of the most prolific athletes in CDO history - to lure her to the sport. Before long, her own athleticism allowed her to compete in the high jump, long jump and the shot put.
Her high jump currently tops out around 5 feet, 2 inches, while her long jump is around 14 feet, 9 inches - plus she can hurl a shot put 33 1/2 inches.
On the tennis court, she is the Dorado's No. 3 singles player and teams up with Hannah Baker on the team's No. 1 doubles squad.
As a freshman, Zimmer spent the fall sports season on the girls golf team. A year later she chose swimming. By her junior year, she whittled down her sports to basketball, tennis, and track and field.
Growing up and competing against her older brother and his friends made Zimmer appreciate sports. Baseball, soccer, softball, T-ball, it didn't matter, she was just happy to play.
But don't ask her to choose her favorite.
"I love them all for different reasons," she said. "Basketball is fun and keeps you fast, tennis is fun and more relaxing. Some days, I like track better; some days I like tennis better."
As recently as six years ago, when CDO was still a 5A school, Zimmer would probably not have had a chance to double up in sports. Students were discouraged from playing three sports because of the number of students at the school.
When school ends in May, Zimmer will finally get a chance to rest her body, maybe.
"My mom says I have to get a job."