She's Got Games: Windsor Freshman Breaking Track Records in Two-Sport Spring
Windsor High freshman Katey Comstock works on her shot put form under the guidance of Lebanon High throwing coach Beth Perkins on Thursday. Comstock has made rapid progress with the Jacks, even as she splits her varsity sports time as Windsor’s starting softball catcher. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Katey Comstock sprints for first base during WIndsor’s softball contest with Hartford on Friday afternoon. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Windsor High freshman Katey Comstock may split her spring athletics between track and softball, but that’s nothing — she played three sports over the winter. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Katey Comstock of Windsor catches a pitch on the inside part of the plate as Mikayla Hastings of Hartford leans away during their game in White River Junction. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Windsor — With all things being what they are, Windsor High freshman Katey Comstock is sort of powering down this spring. She’s only playing two varsity sports.
See, she was a three-teamer over the winter. So splitting her time between the Yellowjackets’ girls track and softball teams represents a mellowing of sorts.
But given the depth of Comstock’s interest in athletics of all sorts — “except soccer and field hockey,” she pointed out last week — she was bound to show aptitude in one soon enough. Her track coach thinks she’s seeing it as the Vermont state championships loom around the corner, especially after Comstock broke two longstanding school records at a recent meet at Fair Haven Union High School.
“Coming out of indoor, I knew that Katey had a lot of potential,” second-year Windsor head coach Amber Morse said. “I was certainly hoping for her to just have a healthy, fun season where she’s performing well and contributing to her team. But I didn’t think much about how far she would throw; I don’t really do that for freshmen. …
“(Then) this girl broke all of our records in her freshman year. That’s tremendous. I think I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m, ‘Wow, we’ve got something.’ ”
What Morse has is a busy bee.
Comstock, 15, of Hartland, manages to juggle significant responsibilities with her spring teams. In addition to being a record-setting thrower, she’s the starting catcher on Windsor’s varsity softball team.
The latter wasn’t anticipated until low numbers and Comstock’s skills led coach Phil Hathorn to make her a varsity-only commodity. While getting only half of her isn’t ideal, Morse and Hathorn — in conjunction with Comstock and her parents, Rusty and Tammy — make the situation work to the best interests of all.
“Probably,” Comstock answers when asked if she can see herself having to choose one sport over another someday. Does she look forward to it? “No, I wouldn’t know what to choose. Right now, I wouldn’t know what to choose.”
Comstock’s athletic cornucopia has her family’s fingerprints all over it.
Take track. An older brother, Troy, served as his little sister’s inspiration. “I started in second grade with summer track, starting with the softball throw,” Comstock said. “My older brother was throwing shot and discus, so I decided I wanted to try it.”
Susan Murphy, Morse’s aunt and the former Windsor High track coach, knew Comstock from her ties to Hartland’s youth track program, so Morse knew she might have something good coming down the pipeline. Did she ever: Starting in the 27- to 28-foot range, Comstock had her indoor shot put form down enough to break the school mark twice, that latter on a heave of 32 feet, 4½ inches on Jan. 26. Other highlights included a 31-9 at indoor states at Norwich University in February (good for fourth place, an inch out of second) and a 31-10 two weeks later at her first New England indoor championship in Boston as the Jacks’ only representative.
Similar results have followed outdoors. Comstock broke two more school records at Fair Haven’s Slater Invitational on May 11, winning the shot (34-5½) and finishing second to a New York athlete in the discus (106-3). Both tosses were 2-3 feet better than the old Windsor standards from the mid-2000s.
“To have a freshman that we have half-time break those records,” Morse said, “is remarkable.”
Both Morse and Hathorn support Comstock’s ambitions, cooperating to make the whole thing work.
“One of the things I’ve been most impressed with Katey is her maturity and communicating,” Morse said. “I knew, going into every week, when I was going to see her, how long I was going to have her and what meets would work for her to compete and not conflict with her other sports, working it out so we were competing Katey in the best way for the school.”
The softball and track schedules rarely converge, making decision on conflicts easier. Games usually fall on Mondays and Fridays, track meets on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Comstock splits practices half and half on Wednesdays and Thursdays, capping the latter by driving to Lebanon High School for 90-minute workouts with Beth Perkins, the Raiders’ throwing coach.
“Personally, I think it’s wonderful,” said Perkins, the former Hartford High and UVM star who also visits Windsor’s Monday workouts to tutor all of the Jacks’ throwers. “There are two ways to look at it. I look at it as awesome, because maybe that will give track the edge to take her full-time next year. That’s how we think; she’s seeing huge improvements and getting all this recognition, so maybe she’ll come to this full-time and college coaches will start looking at her.
“The downside is when you get that good that fast. Not that it always has to be that way, but if you’re quicker to plateau, then the frustration comes. I kind of hope that won’t happen.”
There, of course, are costs. Since she can only make so many softball practices, Comstock can’t be as up to speed on some of the tactical nuances Hathorn likes to employ, especially late in the season.
“Unfortunately for her, I’m demanding of catchers because both Heather (assistant coach Heather Stearns) and I were catchers,” Hathorn noted. “So it’s not an easy position to play in Windsor.”
Nor will decision-making get any easier in the coming weeks.
Larger turnout has Morse optimistic that Windsor’s girls will be able to mirror the state success of the boys, who won last year’s Division II title despite a small roster. But Hathorn had his Yellowjackets sitting second in D-III, a game behind frontrunning Leland & Gray, entering last weekend; a key Comstock hit last Monday aided in an 11-8 win over Mill River, Windsor’s sixth win in seven games at the time.
“She understands the game a little bit,” Hathorn said. “She’s vocal from behind the plate, which I like. A catcher should be in charge, know how many outs there are. She’s aggressive, has a decent arm. … She has a little bit of softball sense for a freshman. That’s nice to see.”
That said, spring pales in comparison with winter. Comstock — who played varsity football last fall (her dad’s idea) — somehow managed to spread herself between indoor track, bowling (she was the Jacks’ top performer) and junior varsity basketball. Maybe it should be a tie: She’s also on an in-town AAU hoop team this spring.
Which pretty much leaves one thing left to do when down time finally arrives.
“I sleep,” she joked.
Even though she doesn’t like to project on freshmen, Morse now can’t help herself. In Comstock, she can see the transcendent track athlete that seems to pop up in Windsor regularly.
“Windsor has had a really amazing history of talented track athletes,” the Windsor coach said. “We get one like Katey every six or seven years. The last one we had was Dean TanCreti — tremendous. Bobby Edgerton — tremendous. Before that, my brother (Rhett) — tremendous. …
“To get one or two kids every seven years is not only remarkable for our school, it’s remarkable for the region. I think that’s Katey.”
Greg Fennell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3226.