Beaver’s Payton List tabbed Trib HSSN Girls Athlete of the Year

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Saturday, July 2, 2022 | 6:53 PM


Specialization in one sport became the thing to do for high school athletes in the early years of this century.

If you showed promise in one sport that could take you to the next level, you were told to focus on that one sport year round to give you the best chance to succeed.

Fortunately for Beaver athletics, Payton List decided she was an athlete of many talents and wanted to end her scholastic career as part of the Bobcats’ volleyball, basketball and softball teams.

A Virginia Tech recruit and a two-time Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Year, List didn’t just participate in those other sports, she thrived.

For that, she is the 2021-22 Trib HSSN Girls Athlete of the Year.

“It really was a special experience to witness the great athlete that Payton is not only in softball but in basketball and volleyball as well,” Beaver athletic director Alan Alcalde said. “I firmly believe that her participation in each sport supported her overall development as an athlete and as a young person. You don’t see many athletes during these days of sports specialization participate in multiple sports, especially if they excel in one. It just goes to show you that it is possible to be a multi-sport athlete and still compete at a very high level in one’s primary sport.

“I really hope young athletes and parents view Payton as an example of what a multi-sport athlete can do and how it can really help them out in the long run.”

List started and was an all-section volleyball player for the Bobcats in all four of her high school years. She made the All-WPIAL team twice and this fall was named to the all-state team.

“Payton could not touch a volleyball for six months, come back and pick up where she left off from the previous year and come back stronger,” Beaver girls volleyball coach Susan Pollins said. “Payton brought a ton to the program as a leader this year. She came into practice every day with a lot of energy and competitiveness which all the girls fed off of this year. We were a young team, and Payton took the role as getting the best out of the younger girls.”

Beaver won a third straight section title by tying Central Valley for first place in Section 4-3A. The Bobcats lost to eventual champion Freeport in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

She closed out her volleyball career with 680 kills, 160 aces, 190 digs and 100 blocks.

After leading Beaver to a WPIAL girls basketball championship in 2021, List returned to the hardwood again this winter.

“There was a moment during her junior year when I thought she might not play basketball her senior year,” Beaver girls basketball coach Greg Huston said. “It kind of just hit me that it might not be in her best interest to play anything other than softball with that scholarship offer out there. So I asked her one day at practice, and she just kind of laughed and said, ‘Yeah, I’m playing. don’t even worry about it.’ And from that point on, I didn’t worry about it.

“She’s so competitive, and she has the right type of guidance from her parents. I have always encouraged kids to play whatever sports they love, and I think the Lists share that point of view as well, which I’m very thankful for.”

List played and started varsity all four years at Beaver. Her career record in basketball was 78-17 with two appearances in the WPIAL championship game in 2020 and 2021 and one district crown in 2021.

She was the Bobcats top scorer this winter, averaging 22.6 points per game. She led the team in rebounds with an average of 6.0 a game and in steals with 69. She also had 32 blocks and 26 assists, which were both second on the team.

“I firmly believe that if Payton had chosen to put her focus on basketball, she would have had a chance to get to 2,000 career points and certainly would have been able to play Division I basketball,” Huston said. “Because she primarily focused on softball, her development at the varsity level took a little longer, but once she figured things out, she was virtually unstoppable. We have had some great players at Beaver, and even without focusing on basketball, she ranks favorably with them all.”

That brings us to the spring and her dominant season and career on the softball diamond.

At the plate, List batted .590 with an on-base percentage of .684 and a slugging percentage of 1.311. She had 36 hits in 61 at-bats with 10 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 42 runs scored and 24 RBIs with only four strikeouts.

In the circle, List was 18-1 while throwing 134 2/3 innings with a 0.36 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP, 271 strikeouts, 39 walks and an opponent’s batting average of .093.

The Bobcats captured a second straight WPIAL Class 4A softball championship this spring and had won 42 consecutive game before falling to eventual PIAA champion Clearfield, 2-1, in the state semifinals.

Beaver softball coach Amy Haggart realizes she has a chance to coach who she calls a generational talent since 2019.

“Payton has a desire and drive to be the best. She has a fire inside of her that will constantly push her to be the best at everything she does,” Haggart said. “She is the ultimate competitor. I saw more from her this year as she became more of a leader, stepping up to mentor and guide the young players on the team. This not only was true in softball, but in basketball and volleyball as well.

“It has been an absolute honor to be her coach for the last four years. I am excited to continue to follow her throughout her career at Virginia Tech, knowing she is going to be just as strong and dominant there.”

List took some time for the Girls Athlete of the Year Q&A:

Were there any thoughts coming into your senior season of not playing volleyball or basketball and focusing on softball?

I was always going to play all my sports. I knew this would be my last time playing them with my sister and my last time playing them in a competitive way. So I was always going to play basketball and volleyball.

In a day when athletes are sometimes led to concentrate on one sport they could excel in beyond high school, who were your influences to continue to play different sports in each season?

My parents always told me to stick to all the sports. Knowing that I wanted to go to college for softball, they didn’t want me to burn out before college, so taking breaks from the sports and playing other ones really made me keep the love I have for softball.

What made you choose Virginia Tech early?

I really loved the campus. They had a major I was truly interested in. I also really liked the coaching staff a lot.

Were other softball schools or schools from other sports still recruiting you after you committed to Virginia Tech for softball?

After I committed to Virginia Tech, all other schools left me alone.

Have you picked a major?

I picked wildlife conservative. I’m going to come out and work in the zoo.

When you were young, did you play all three sports and did you have a favorite?

I started basketball in fourth grade when I came to Beaver. I started volleyball in seventh grade, and softball I have always played and been around my whole life because of my mom. She coached at RMU, so I grew up with the game. My favorite has always been softball.

You have accomplished so much in all three sports, yet 50 years ago, you would not have had those opportunities. Have you been learned how much has changed in female sports since Title IX in 1972?

I realize how lucky I am with being able to play all these sports. Knowing back in the day, women were not allowed. I heard things, but never really looked into it.

What will you miss most about playing volleyball, and was there a highlight for you from this past fall?

I will miss playing with my sister, and probably the speed of the game. Volleyball is definitely much faster than softball. But playing with my sister was so much fun. Watching her succeed was my favorite thing.

What will you miss most about playing basketball, and was there a highlight for you from this past winter after your team’s title run in 2021?

(Again), I’ll miss playing with my sister and having coach Huston as a coach. One of my favorite things from this season was proving that we all worked hard to get where we were. Even after losing a lot a lot of seniors, we all worked to be good and we had a good season.

What is your favorite kind of pie, cookie or cake?

Favorite is apple pie.

What was the most recent streaming show you binge watched, and was it worth it?

“Outer Banks” was my favorite; it was definitely worth bingeing.

What is your favorite social media platform?

Probably Instagram. I like looking at all the pictures people post.

What is the best vacation you ever had and a dream vacation you’d like to take?

Best vacay was on a cruise with my family. And my dream one would probably be Hawaii.

One food you never get tired of is…?

Acai bowl; they are my favorite food. I love all the different things they have in them.

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