Gaughan a multi-dimensional athlete at Brentwood
Brentwood senior Alexis Gaughan won her school's Booster Athlete Award last month as the best female athlete for the 2013-14 school year.
It was a high honor for sure, but Gaughan's talents went beyond just female athletics — she was also a standout on the boys' soccer team at Brentwood.
“Honestly, I enjoyed playing with the guys more than the girls,” Gaughan said. “They're more competitive and more serious.”
Gaughan fit right in with the boys. She was a two-year starter who played defensive stopper, a position between the midfield and the defense.
Her position wasn't one that offered goal-scoring opportunities, but Gaughan was able to assert herself in other ways.
“She handled herself very well,” said Ron DiNardo, Brentwood's head soccer coach. “She was honorable mention for all-section and a very physical player.”
Gaughan's hard-nosed style of play resonated with her teammates and coaches so much that she was selected to be a team captain.
“It was an honor for me,” Gaughan said. “I feel like people on the boys' team just respected me as another player. Being captain was an honor, especially being a girl.”
Throughout her high school career, Gaughan picked up 12 varsity letters, four each in soccer, swimming and softball.
She was a sprinter on the swim team, competing in the 50- and 100-meter freestyles, as well as the medley and 200 relays. She was a swim team captain in her junior and senior years.
Softball may have been when she was at her best.
Gaughan was the starting shortstop and batted third this season, when the Lady Spartans finished 7-7 overall. As a freshman, Gaughan started in the outfield before shifting to shortstop the past three seasons.
This year, she batted .566 with 10 stolen bases. Defensively, she had 41 putouts to go against just five errors for the Lady Spartans, who finished 5-5 in Section 4-AA to miss out on a WPIAL playoff spot.
“Alexis is an all-around fantastic kid,” said Jen Ditoro, Brentwood's head softball coach. “On top of all that, she has proven to be a great team leader.”
DiNardo attended most of the Brentwood softball games this season to watch his daughter, Taylor, a sophomore outfielder.
Just like on the soccer field, Gaughan stood out to him on the diamond.
“She's a great softball player,” DiNardo said. “She's a highly-skilled shortstop and a good batter.”
Gaughan and the rest of the Brentwood senior class recently graduated. Gaughan now can look back on all of her accomplishments that culminated with being named the school's female athlete of the year.
“I feel really proud of myself, really achieved,” she said. “It's a huge honor I've been working for since my freshman year.”
Next up for Gaughan is attending Kent State University.
For the first time in her life, Gaughan, who is undecided on a major, will focus solely on her studies without having to rush to practice after class.
But that lifestyle may not last long.
“It's going to be real hard (not playing a sport),” she said. “I know I'm going to end up trying out for clubs.”
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.