BROADALBIN — Considering the general state of uncertainty that’s hovered over high school sports since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Broadalbin-Perth freshman Haley Tomlinson wasn’t going to waste any opportunity to compete.
So, in a fall season where so many fall athletes are without any of their usual sports, Tomlinson is participating in two.
Cross country and golf are the only sports being offered at Broadalbin-Perth this fall — the Foothills Council is also sponsoring play in girls’ tennis, but the district doesn’t have a program — and Tomlinson is competing in both. She’s in her second varsity season running cross country, while also becoming one of the members of Broadalbin-Perth’s first-ever girls’ golf team.
“I thought that if I was going to try it, this was going to be the year,” Tomlinson said.
The daughter of Broadalbin-Perth superintendent Stephen Tomlinson, Haley Tomlinson made an instant impact as an eighth-grader in cross country last year. She finished 10th in the Foothills Council Championships, finishing as her team’s third scoring runner when the Patriots won the team title, and was 30th out of 122 runners in the Section II Class C/CC championship race.
When the Foothills Council’s decision on fall sports came down in September, there was never any question that Tomlinson would be returning to cross country, but she decided to use the abbreviated fall season as a chance to try out another of her favorite sports at the competitive level.
“I’ve been golfing forever,” she said.
Broadalbin-Perth cross country coach Jeff Richards has had a few two-sport athletes in 21 years running his program. While Richards said he was formerly “a coach who was kind of against” having athletes who attempt two sports in the same season, denying an opportunity to an athlete this fall after so many athletes had opportunities snatched from them over the last seven months never crossed his mind.
“As I’ve learned over 21 years of doing this at a school of our size, you’ve got to be willing to do it,” Richards said. “If a kid can handle it, and handle the academic part as well, I’m all for it — as long as the other coach understands, as well.”
Balancing the workload has meant a lot of solo work from Tomlinson while getting instruction from Richards and golf coach Tony Mucilli.
“With golf, I go to the matches and practice on my own,” she said, “and it’s the same thing for cross country.”
“I’m glad that she’s able to do both,” Richards said. “She’s doing a great job with both. She balances it well, and she’s a kid who can handle it. She’s also a kid who, even though she’s doing a golf match, she calls me up and says, ‘What’s the workout?’ and I know she’ll do it right.”
Tuesday, Tomlinson carded a round of 53 — second-best on the team — in helping the Broadalbin-Perth’ golf team in a 156-156 tie with Queensbury. The next day, she was out on the Broadalbin-Perth cross country course finishing third in the girls’ race to help her team in a 17-44 win against Amsterdam.
While golf has mostly been unchanged outside of certain social distancing and sanitary requirements, cross country has been vastly different.
Instead of running in a tight pack like Richards has favored for more than two decades, Tomlinson is running in meets the same way she’s practicing — on her own.
“It’s definitely harder,” she said, “because I run faster with people, but I’ve learned to get my pace and know when to go.”