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Athletes of the Month

By Colin Anderson

Photos by Jason Duchow Photography

Gabrielle Hicks, Senior

Now a senior at Sandpoint High School, Gabrielle Hicks made a decision before her freshman year that would drastically change her high school experience. “I was a big soccer player up until my freshman year. It was going into freshman year when I started to play volleyball with my sister’s club team,” she explained. That experience showed Gabrielle the fast-paced and high-intensity nature of the sport. “After that summer I was hooked and knew volleyball was the sport I wanted to play in college.”

Gabrielle’s sister Grace currently plays collegiate volleyball at Point Loma University in San Diego, and she hopes to follow in her sister’s footsteps and play at the college level as well. Recruiting has slowed down the process, but Gabrielle is confident she will find the best fit soon. For now, she continues to work equally hard in the classroom. She was freshman and sophomore class president before becoming student body president her junior year. She’s maintained a high class rank and academic honor roll through her senior year as well.

On the court Gabrielle excelled early after switching from soccer, lettering in varsity as a freshman. By her junior season she was nominated for the North Idaho Girls Volleyball Athlete of the Year, something she hopes to achieve again this season. While she has set many personal goals, being a leader and good teammate are equally important to her. “I decided at a pretty young age, due to some circumstances, that I was going to be the person that would make all the underclassmen and new players in the program feel welcomed and valued. I think that everyone should have a positive experience to look back on when they think of high school sports, rather than a struggle to feel accepted,” she said.

Gabrielle enjoys being out in the boat during the warm North Idaho summers, family dinners and playing with her dog Ruby Sue. Once she’s found a college or university fit, she plans on taking classes in political science or business and advertising. “I am looking to be a lobbyist because I love advocating for things that I believe in, but I am not set on anything (specific) yet,” she said.

Chris Koch, Senior

Senior Chris Koch has been on the pitch his entire life. His love of soccer began from the time he could kick a ball up until this, his final competitive season. “I have been on the varsity team for three years now and have enjoyed every minute,” he said.

Getting up and down the field, making the perfect pass and burying a goal are all moments Chris enjoys, but the mental chess game that is soccer is just as exhilarating for him: “Things like when to pass the ball, how to receive a pass, where to look even before you have the ball. These are all things that make soccer the most enjoyable sport there is,” he explained.

Some of Chris’ biggest challenges have come recently as he suffered a pair of injuries late into his final season. “I’ve had to make the decision to either hold off and wait till I heal or play through and help my teammates out.” Chris hopes to heal up well enough to give it his all across the final games of his long career.

Off the field Chris focuses intently on academics. He’s carried a GPA at or above 4.0 throughout high school and is committed to seeing that number maintained on graduation day. He enjoys science courses, and his plan after graduation is to take himself across the border and eventually around the world. “I plan to go to the University of Alberta after high school and would like to get a degree in a STEM field and after that join the Peace Corp.,” he said.

While Chris doesn’t plan on playing competitive soccer after graduation, the experience it has given him has definitely shaped him as a person. He’s learned that great things can come from working well with others as well as supporting people during the good times and the bad. “I have learned that getting through a tough situation is much easier with a team than by yourself. Having other people around you that are like your family is extremely important and can help you get through anything,” said Chris.

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