Q&A: Alamosa's Lavier sisters see big benefits in participating in multiple sports

(Photo courtesy of Erik Melgoza/Alamosa Athletics)

Lilly and Emily Lavier have spent a lot of time competing together. As kids, they battled each other and as they got into high school it was battling side by side.

Lilly always thought herself a runner first but also loved to play basketball. Emily thought differently. Basketball was her main sport and running turned out to be secondary. But it was important that each one was doing both. They've shared several athletic moments together, among those is winning two 4x400 relay championships at the state track meet and sharing the basketball court together when Emily set the state's single-game 3-point record.

While Emily will return to Alamosa as a senior next year, Lilly has graduated and will run at Oklahoma State University. Being a multi-sport athlete played a big role in that and it's a lesson that has trickled down to Emily and even beyond.

(Photo courtesy of Lilly Lavier)

Question: How have you gotten to the point in your life where playing multiple sports became essential to you?

Lilly: I always thought it was essential. I think for me running is more my thing and so it was always really nice for me to have a break from that. That break for me was basketball and so it was always nice to be able to still be getting fit in a different way and move some different muscles and I really think it helps the body overall.

And I think it helps with injury prevention. You're getting to use different parts of your body for different things and I really think it helps to be taking a break from doing one repetitive motion and running to be able to do some different ones in basketball. I think it's helped a lot.

Q: It's not exactly like you're taking a break because you're still playing basketball at such a high level. How important is it to you when you're not focusing on running and you're focusing on basketball to make sure that you're competing at the absolute highest level you can?

Lilly: It's very important to me and I do kind of see it as a break for myself just in the sense that it's a whole other world. Even if it's mentally being able to take a break and move to something so different. It's something that I really enjoyed over the past few years.

Q: Both sports have their own set of skills, but how much do you find yourself focusing on each skill set?

Lilly: I've graduated now and so now I haven't been doing any work with basketball. I'll probably be done with that because I'm mostly just going to be running from here on out. However, in high school there were lots of times where Emily and I would both go to the gym or go to our backyard on the weekend and we'd just shoot and kind of work on the things we needed to work on. We definitely took it seriously in the offseason and would do our part to try to get better.

But for myself, from here on out, it's not really as essential as it was in high school just because I'm moving onto the next chapter, which for me is running. But it was always important to get in that work during the offseason for us.

Q: How much did it appeal to Oklahoma State that you were a multi-sport athlete?

Lilly: That was one of the things that my coach directed at me that he really liked. And that was one thing I really appreciated from him was that one of the first things he said on my home visit was how much he appreciated and knew how much it helps that I was a multi-sport athlete.

That's something he really liked and he thinks that's something that made me special and unique and that's something I really appreciated and liked that he saw.

That absolutely was very important to me and it drove me to kind of help him make the decision I made.

Q: As a big sister, was it a big deal for you to make sure Emily was involved in multiple sports?

Lilly: Absolutely. I actually have another sister younger than Emily. She's going to be a sophomore. For both of them it was very important to make sure that you're staying fit year-round. An easy way to do that is just be keeping yourself in sports in every season and just keeping busy.

It was easier for me to get Emily to do some other sports like cross country in the fall than it was our other sister. That's one thing that both of us kind of worked on with her, but it was essential to have her doing multiple sports and just staying fit.

It kind of gets you ready to transition from one season to the other.

Q: Emily, did you feel like playing multiple sports was something you had to do watching Lilly both do it and excel in it?

Emily: Oh yeah, 100 percent. I just remember when we were little and like growing up, I'd be like here in the house and Lilly would be outside and she'd like pull me outside and we go, all of our siblings, we go outside and we'd be active whether it's like playing soccer, playing basketball, just like finding something to do. And then once she got to middle school and I saw her doing multiple sports and excelling, it definitely like inspired me to want to do that too.

Q: How much has that pushed you to try and be the best you can be at everything, whether it's running or basketball?

Emily: A lot. Growing up, I'd always hear, "You're Lilly's sister." She's an all-star runner. I want people to know my name too and that just like pushed me to work hard and try to be the best that I can be and also excel at what I do just like she did.

Q: What are the benefits that you're finding in being a multi-sport athlete?

Emily: I think a lot of it is like how she said like transitioning from one sport to the other. A big reason that I do cross country is to get me in shape for basketball, which is kind of my main sport.

If it wasn't for her, I definitely wouldn't have gotten into cross country. But I'm glad I did because that transition from running all fall in cross country to running in basketball, it definitely keeps me in shape and it helps me out a lot with that. And then basketball keeps me in shape for track the next season.

So it's definitely beneficial, playing all these sports.

Q: How much fun is it to be able to share the basketball court with your sister and then also be able to stand on a championship podium with her at track?

Emily: It's so much fun. That was probably one of my favorite memories, honestly from high school is getting to do it not once, but twice. I definitely think it's something special that not a lot of people can say they got to do.

It's also special because I'm the one handing off the baton to her going into the final lap — the anchor leg. So I think for me that was always something that stood out. Those 4x400 championships; I just thought that was super special.

Q: How many assists did Lilly give to you on the night that you said the 3-point record?

Emily: She actually had 11 of 12 assists, almost all of them.

(Photo courtesy of Erik Melgoza/Alamosa Athletics)

Q: Wow, how much fun was that? Your name's in that record book, but you and your teammates know that your sister had a big hand in helping you there.

Lilly: It's actually kind of a funny story. We were actually scrolling through the CHSAA page on Instagram the night before that game. And I said, "Oh look, these girls had a new 3-point record," and it was 11, I told her "Oh, you can definitely do that." I thought she could get 12 or 13.

So the night before I told her she should try it, really just kind of making fun of her to get her to take a shot at it and then sure enough, it happened. I would look at her and just kept throwing her the ball and they just kept going in.

Emily: So, it was kind of a funny story just for the two of us to know that it was possible. A lot of people like to say that we planned that out, but I don't think we really did. We just knew it was in the realm of possibilities.

And then she kept making fun of me during the game: "You're at six, you're at seven now."

Lilly: It was just a joke because the night before we were joking about it and we share a room. Before we went to bed, before the game, I was just poking fun at her. And sure enough, she went out and was having a heck of a game and I was just keeping track.

At halftime, I told her, "You're halfway there, you might as well just go for it." So it's just kind of a fun backstory for both of us to know that and then to know that it happened.

Q: How much of an example do you think underclassmen, need to see in watching you girls be multi-sport athletes and see the benefits pay off, whether it's a scholarship to Oklahoma State or a state record for 3-pointers?

Lilly: I think it's very important and I feel like both of us have taken a good deal of responsibility for setting an example for people below us. Speaking for myself, I knew that was always a goal. I wanted to leave a good impression on the high school and for the younger girls to kind of see that you don't have to be going to this big school in Denver to do some pretty amazing and special things.

And I think Emily's done a really good job at following that and kind of getting that same attitude because I wanted to make Alamosa a place where people felt proud to be going to school. I want people people to look at it and say, "Oh my gosh, there's Alamosa, they have this (certain) reputation."

We have a lot of good girls coming up and who are already at the high school who very capable of doing things like that. Having us to show people that it's okay to be able to have big goals and go for it and set records and do things like that and to kind of even inspire people to do that, is very important. I think we've both done a good job at showing people that.

Emily: It's important to me to have a good relationship with like the underclassmen and just like make sure that you're talking to them. Whether it's in practice or on game day or at meets or whatever it is, including them in everything and just like being a role model for them to look up to.

It inspires me to want to do my best so that maybe I can be someone to them that they look up to so they can also do great things.