Sarah Spain does have a favorite statistic from her days playing basketball at
It's called blocked shots. The ability to swat away another person's attempt at scoring.
"I had a couple triple-doubles with blocks, rebounds and points and I think my favorite stat, that I still remember to this day, was that I averaged eight blocks a game my senior year,'' said the 5-foot 11 Spain. "There's something very satisfying about rejecting someone else's shot, right? That's my uber-competitive side showing. I still have trouble reigning that in these days, even just when playing rec league sports."
A Force Inside
The year was 1998 and Spain was in her glory days as an athlete playing field hockey, basketball and running track. On the court, she was teamed up with the school's top scorer, , as the Scouts won 23 games.
"Playing basketball with Sarah was an experience to say the least,'' Hodgkinson said. "Spain was incredibly agile for her size. She was a natural athlete and a fierce competitor. Opponents had a hard time defending her because she was fast on her feet. She was a smart, physical player."
In his first year of coaching varsity basketball, Jim Thiel was glad to have this center on his club.
"Sarah was the inside force while Janie was scoring from the outside,'' Thiel said. "They were a great 1-2 punch that teams would slow down sometimes, but never stop them. Sarah had great basketball skills, but her athletic ability was exceptional. She was often if not always bigger, quicker, and stronger than the girl guarding her."
Spain prided herself on beating other centers around the area.
"We made a pretty good duo, Janie and I, working the inside-out game and running the floor together,'' she said. "I was often faster and more athletic than the centers on the other team, so I could get my points on breakaways or quick post moves. I really prided myself on bringing a ton of energy to every play."
Hodgkinson watched as Spain battled on a nightly basis.
"I still laugh thinking back to when she would get in little spats with opposing team's centers,'' Hodgkinson said. "Spain was natural leader on the court and a team player. She was a key reason for our teams success in high school."
Thiel is now a dean and assistant principal at the high school. He has not forgotten how impressive Spain was on a basketball court.
"At times, it seemed like she was everywhere on the court during games,'' he said. "She was very smart and had great anticipation on the court. If teams made a mistake, she would make them pay. Sarah always had a great love for the game and sports."
Track Provides Individual Challenge
As good as Spain was on a basketball court, it was track and field where the speedy Spain took to college.
"I did pretty much everything from jumps to throws to sprints,'' she said. "I went to state in hurdles, long jump, triple jump and discus and I placed seventh in the state in hurdles my senior year. Track was a great individual challenge. I loved working with Coach Steve Clegg and setting and breaking personal goals."
And what about that field hockey career?
"The camaraderie on the field hockey team was incredible,'' Spain said. "We had lots of spirit and enthusiasm and friendships."
And then came her education at Cornell University and more track and field. She was captain of the track team her senior year. Her events included indoor penthatlon and outdoor hepthathlon. She even held the school record at one time in the javelin. Adding to the excitement was spotting some excellent former Lake Forest athletes.
"It was also pretty neat to compete at a few of the same big collegiate meets as Jillian Schwartz (Duke) and my sister, Katie (Lehigh),'' Spain said.
Still in the Sports World
Spain has not left the sports world behind after graduating from Lake Forest. She has entered the world of sports journalism and seems to be enjoying herself tremendously.
"I really love it,'' Spain said. "I never get bored. I get to use my writing skills. I was an English major at Cornell. For my writing job at espnW.com., I get to use my quick wit and gift of gab on the air at ESPN1000 every day. I try to incorporate some of my improv background and sense of humor into my video pieces for ESPNChicago.com."
Her creative attempt at securing Bears Super Bowl tickets in 2007 earned her plenty of attention.
"Well, I achieved my goal and more, as the men's grooming company Axe saw my story and I ended up getting four tickets and hotel, airfare for the whole trip,'' she said. "I got to take two girlfriends with me and have a contest to pick a lucky Axe guy that would get to come with us. While I had no idea what a stir I would cause, it ended up being a pretty fantastic networking tool."