Athletes of the Month: Kaitlan Ward & Garrett Connolly
Photo by Jason Duchow Photography
Sandpoint High School senior Kaitlan Ward has a competitive nature. That drive has earned her accolades not only on the softball field and volleyball court but in the classroom as well.
She was awarded softball MVP her junior year and volleyball Defensive Player of the Year her senior year. She is also on the honor roll.
“I am a very competitive person, and I love the competition aspect of sports. It is what makes me love to play sports,” said Kaitlan. “I always want to win.”
She shares that one of the biggest challenges she has had when it came to sports was during her first years as a high school athlete. She wanted to prove to her coaches that she was better than some of the upperclassmen and should be playing over them. “I just kept working hard and making sure I was working with the coach as much as possible, and it soon paid off,” said Kaitlan.
Although she has yet to decide where she will attend college, she has it narrowed down to a few, and she said she hopes to play softball in college as well.
Kaitlan is interested in the field of sports medicine, mainly sports psychology. “Sports have always been a big part of my life, and over my years of playing I have learned how important the mental side of an athlete is, and so I want to work with athletes on that,” she said.
Kaitlan is grateful for the time she has spent being part of the Sandpoint Bulldog volleyball and softball teams and, as she goes forward, she will take an important lesson with her.
“I have learned so many things from playing and from my coaches, but the one that has stuck with me the most is that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything,” she said.
Photo by Jason Duchow Photography
A senior at Sandpoint High School, Garrett Connolly is a left-handed pitcher for the school’s varsity baseball team. His accomplishments are many; and not just when it comes to sports, but when it comes to being a valued member of the community.
“My biggest accomplishment may be my project of renovating Northside Elementary School’s baseball field,” said Garrett, who received the Idaho Top Scholar Award and was recognized as the Elks’ Student of the Month in January. “I dedicated a whole summer to the project and completed it with only donations from the community.”
Garrett will attend the University of Utah where he plans to major in materials science and engineering. “I will have a full plate academically, as I will attend Utah’s honors college,” he said.
His dream job is to start his own business designing and selling technologically advanced skis. “Engineering has always fascinated me, and applying innovation to sports seems like a fulfilling career.”
Garrett shared that his biggest challenge in sports is allowing opponents to get into his head. “I’ve had to teach myself how to completely ignore sounds of the other team while I am on the mound or at bat,” said Garrett, who adds that he enjoys the mental aspect of baseball, as a smart pitcher can defeat a strong hitter. “I always strive to raise my baseball IQ, as the more aware you are, the more fun the game becomes.”
His biggest life lesson he has learned goes back to his work on Northside Elementary School’s baseball field.
“My father, my coach at the time, helped me renovate the Northside Elementary School baseball field, and I learned what a team can accomplish,” said Garrett. “Although this was not a team project, I collected enough donations from the community to completely back my project. That summer, I realized the power of community and just what a team should be made of.”