Julia Loesch plays tennis in the fall, her long blonde hair flipping back and forth as she moves around the court.
Her slender 5-foot-5 frame darts down the basketball court in winter. In the spring and well into the summer, her blue eyes shine from behind a lacrosse mask.
Loesch played those three varsity sports as a freshman at Charlotte Country Day last year. She played club lacrosse over the summer. She plans to do the same this year.
She was one of two female freshmen on three varsity teams, according to Country Day Director of Sports Information Mary Beth Luxton. (The other was Maddie Less with fall cheerleading, winter cheerleading and softball.) One male athlete did the same: Watson Dolhare with cross country, swimming and track.
“I don’t know why I did so many things,” said Julia, 15. “I just loved it all. I love competition.”
Loesch has played tennis the longest, starting when she was 4. She played in middle school at Charlotte Prep but didn’t expect to make the varsity team as a freshman at Country Day after missing preseason workouts.
She was one of five freshmen on a team that was 17-3 and lost in the state championship.
She has played basketball since middle school. She played guard in 26 games for Country Day’s varsity team last year, averaging 2 points and a steal per game. The Buccaneers finished 11-16.
Lacrosse is Loesch’s newest sport and is quickly becoming her favorite. She started it a little more than a year ago and made varsity last season as a reserve midfielder on a team that won a state championship. This past summer Julia took part in the Brine National Lacrosse Classic in Maryland.
“You can make any real tried-and-true athlete, if they have the work ethic, into a lacrosse player,” said head coach Kristy Boyles, who also coaches Loesch during the summer with the Queen City Stars lacrosse team. “I knew she would push others older than her to work harder and I knew she would develop relatively quickly because of her athleticism and because of her drive.”
Growing up, Loesch tried many other sports. She played hockey in New Jersey but quit soon after moving to Charlotte before fourth grade.
She played softball before picking up lacrosse and has also tried soccer, swimming, horseback riding and sailing.
“I just try to do everything, but I’m glad I tried to do everything because I realized what I’m good at,” she said.
Julia’s parents, Paris and Roger, played sports in high school and college. Her oldest brother, R.J., played lacrosse in high school and was recruited to play at Catholic University. Middle brother Carter will be a junior at Country Day and plays baseball and basketball. But the family didn’t have to pressure her to play.
“She gets such happiness out of playing,” Paris said. “She really plays for fitness but also just making friends and just feels really good about that.”
A busy sports schedule has an added benefit for Julia: It forces her to stay organized with her schoolwork and helps combat what she calls minor “visual-auditory processing issues.”
Julia says she is easily distracted in school and sometimes gets sidetracked on assignments and quizzes.
“I go off on something totally different,” she said. “One word in that sentence triggers me onto something, like, totally different....
“I don’t like writing stuff. When I write things I just go off. I don’t stick to, like, the question, so visualizing it in my head and talking about it is what I do well.”
Julia sometimes takes quizzes verbally.
In one class last year, Julia made a 99 on a verbal version of a quiz after making a 70 on the written version. She has to make time for study hall during the school day. She often spends lunch in the tutoring lab doing homework and sometimes takes tests in another room to keep from being distracted.
Her mother said Julia made mostly As and Bs as a freshman.
“I knew that moving to Country Day from Charlotte Prep would be a really big step academically,” Julia said. “I feel like I sort my time very wisely between sports. ... I never felt like I was too overwhelmed with one sport overlapping into one semester. I always felt like I was on top of it.”
Andriette Farmer, a counselor who works with students who have “learning differences” in Charlotte and has met with Julia, said students like her thrive with a busy sports or extra curricular schedule because it “keeps them structured. ... They know what to expect and plan and accommodate things a little better.”
“I think she’s done excellent,” Farmer said. “She’s been the new girl in school at a school with a really tough curriculum and she’s come in as a three-sport athlete and has been able to maintain her good academic demands with her athletic demands.”
The balance of academic and athletic demands return this month when Country Day students go back to school. Julia plans to play all three sports again, starting with tennis. The first match was Aug. 22.
After tennis, basketball will start. Julia will likely be one of the team’s main guards after the graduation of Beth Erb, who holds several school scoring records. In the spring, she plans to return to lacrosse, where Boyles expects her to contribute more on the varsity team.
Julia and her parents don’t want her to be characterized by a learning difference. She’s a charismatic and athletic high schooler. In the little spare time she has, Julia volunteers with Special Olympics and YoungLife.
“Everybody has something,” Paris said. “Everybody has something good and everyone has something bad in their kaleidoscope of colors.”