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Glory Days: The era of 3-sport athlete

Antioch player receives extra help from her uncle

Published: Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 1:26 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 1:31 p.m. CST
Caption
Carrie Gofron

It was the fall of 1994 when the referendum went through. No more freshman sports at Antioch High School. So what’s a ninth-grader supposed to do anyway? Freshman Carrie Gofron wasn’t too worried about it.

“It was hard,’’ Gofron recalled. “But it was very hard on the guys and the football team.”

She made the varsity teams in volleyball, basketball and soccer.

It was the era of the three-sport athlete. Now those folks are very rare indeed. For Gofron, it wasn’t that big a deal. After all, she was very good at all three sports.

Former Antioch girls volleyball coach Glen Heitman was very familiar with Gofron’s skills. Heavily involved in the volleyball world, Heitman watched Gofron in all three of her sports. After all, he was her uncle.

“For what they had back then, she did very well,’’ said Heitman, who didn’t coach his niece. “She didn’t even play club volleyball. She went right to the varsity and played against tough competition. You just don’t see three-sport athletes anymore.”

Gofron has left the area. She’s working in computer software in Tennessee.

“I love it here,’’ she said. “It’s awesome. I’ve met some really nice people. I’m still playing in volleyball leagues and I’ve made friends through that.”

Coaching the teams in which Gofron played at Antioch were Gwen Varney in volleyball, Dave Woods in basketball and Charlie Trout in soccer.

Gofron enjoyed her 1996 season with the volleyball squad.

“We had our best record,’’ she said. “My senior year was hard.”

At 5-foot-7, she wasn’t the tallest outside hitter around.

Her height didn’t hurt her during basketball season. Gofron used her quickness to steal the ball and lead fast breaks.

“I loved basketball,’’ Gofron said. “I loved playing competitive basketball. I have some memories of stealing the ball.”

Of course, playing nearby in those days was the team from Stevenson, which won back-to-back state championships. The stars were Tauja and Tamika Catchings and Katie Coleman. Yes, Antioch had Stevenson on their schedule. And those were not pretty games.

“It was horrible,’’ Gofron noted. “We were losing by 50 points. And Tamika came to Tennessee for her college ball.”

Growing up in Lake Villa, Gofron, the eldest of three sisters, began to play sports when she was quite young.

“Soccer was always my favorite,’’ she said. “I didn’t play volleyball until later. My dad had been a basketball player so I played with the boys.”

Of course, uncle Glen Heitman took care of teaching her volleyball.

“He would teach me in my backyard,’’ Gofron said. “He even taught me to water ski. He was a very involved uncle.”

And then Gofron repaid the teaching by returning to Antioch to help coach volleyball.

“She was an assistant coach and helped with the JV for a couple of years,’’ Heitman said.

Another teacher-coach, Paul Petty, was a mentor to Gofron during the early years.

Now when soccer season came around, Gofron was ready for it.

“Even in the fall, it’s soccer season,’’ she said. “I just loved playing it. I saw the field well.”

College at Iowa State University had Gofron major in computer engineering. And she brought basketball along with it.

“I worked on my basketball and thought I could do this,’’ she said. “But they didn’t have the budget for it. I had so much fun playing sports so it was disappointing not to play basketball.”

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