High School Sports

Versatility makes Clary stand out

NEWBERRY — Whitney Clary considered quitting.

As a junior, the Newberry High three-sport athlete thought about dropping basketball from her schedule to conserve energy between volleyball and softball seasons.

“I couldn’t do it,” she said. “All three are teamwork sports, but they are so different ... I love all three sports, and I couldn’t give up one just because of the other two.”

It proved to be a good decision. Clary, a senior, was all-state in basketball as well as volleyball. Next month, she will play in the North-South all-star softball game. Those accomplishments helped Clary earn the honor of being selected The State’s Midlands high school female athlete of the year.

Clary had not intended to split her time when she joined coach Amy Scott’s softball team as a seventh-grader. But after two years, Clary heeded her coach’s suggestion that she try out for volleyball, which Scott also coached. Then, as a sophomore, she took up basketball “to stay in shape” between volleyball and softball.

The next thing she knew, Clary was in love with three sports. She found herself spread thin at times, but could see no way around it.

“It was hard sometimes because I would go right into the next sport for scrimmages or games without any real practice,” she said. “I’d be in good shape, but I was still just jumping right in.”

Still, Scott did not see how Clary could cut back either.

“She meant too much to all three teams to have any of them lose her,” Scott said.

During her senior year, Clary was named the school’s most valuable player in volleyball, basketball and softball. She made all-region in all three sports, earning Region 3-2A player-of-the-year honors in basketball and all-state honors in volleyball and basketball.

“I never expected that, at the end of each season it was a surprise,” Clary said.

Not to Scott.

“She has always been a leader just from what she does on the court, on the floor or on the field,” Scott said. “In every sport, you know that you’re going to get all she’s got.”

Clary posted a .354 batting average and .953 fielding percentage as a shortstop this past season.

She led the volleyball team to the region’s No. 2 seed with 167 digs, 72 aces and a service percentage of 92.

Because her best shot at a college scholarship was in softball, Clary joined a traveling softball squad last summer. This spring she picked up a scholarship to USC Aiken.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I know it’ll be good for me, just playing softball,” Clary said.

Or maybe not. She already is considering joining the volleyball team as a walk-on.

Reach Nelson at (803) 771-8419.

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC