By STEVE BARLOW
FALLS VILLAGE– When Housatonic High’s Sydney Segalla arrives at Boston College in the fall, she will be the fastest woman in the 159-year history of the Chestnut Hill, Mass., school.
And Segalla isn’t even going there to run track.
Her winning times at the recent Class S state meet in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races, though, are better than any of the marks listed in the Eagles’ track and field record book.
That’s impressive, considering Segalla didn’t even compete in track until her final year of high school.
It capped a year that saw her make All-State in three sports, remarkable in an era when most high school athletes rarely play three sports.
Soccer is Segalla’s first love and the reason she’s going to BC. Having already made her college choice last year, Segalla decided she had time to track and field this spring.
“I thought, ‘I can do it. I think I can be pretty good at it. Why not?’” she explained.
Yes, why not… and Elon Musk is pretty good at making money.
In her only track season, Segalla won all three of her events at the Berkshire League championships and set two meet records at the Class S races (11.90 seconds in the 100, 52.96 in the 400).
Then, running against competitors from schools with as great as 10 times Housatonic’s enrollment, Segalla missed out on another trifecta at the State Open by only three-tenths of a second in the 100, finishing third.
“She’s still learning how to run,” said Steve Dodge, who coached Segalla in soccer and basketball for four years. “If she was getting into the weight room, she’d be in a class by herself. She already is.”
Most of her conditioning for running, Segalla acknowledged, comes simply from practicing for soccer and basketball. She never stopped playing this spring for her ella premier soccer team, Bethany-based Connecticut FC, alternating days of track practices with soccer workouts and some days even heading off to a soccer game right after running track.
In the Berkshire League, the most coveted honor each year is the Ray Marinko Award, given to the conference’s top senior athlete. The BL athletic directors cast votes based on athletics, scholarship, leadership, integrity, courage, versatility and service.
Besides her athletic feats, here are a few other reasons why this year’s choice was obvious:
N In the classroom, Segalla took honors classes and posted A’s in all of them this semester.
N After her freshman year of soccer, a few prep schools showed interest in her, but Segalla stayed true to the Mountaineers.
N When Thomaston’s girls basketball team was preparing in March for the Class S final against a taller Coventry team, the 5-foot-11 Segalla drove an hour to a Thomaston practice to help the Bears prepare for the challenge.
“I wanted to see a Berkshire League team win states,” she explained.
It’s traditional for coaches to write comments on the Marinko Award winner to be read at the league banquet. Here are excerpts from some of them:
“She’s the kid who makes coaches game-plan especially for her, makes opponents rise to their very best to have a chance against her, then also poses for selfies after the game,” said Nonnewaug assistant basketball coach Toby Denman.
“With Sydney around, it was an uphill battle to win the league, and she showed us just that in our final away game of the season,” said Nonnewaug soccer coach Nick Sheikh. “I think it is fair to say the whole BL is rooting for her in college.”
“I commented when she was a freshman that she wasn’t a great basketball player, but certainly was a great athlete. As the seasons passed, she became a great basketball player as well,” said Northwestern coach Fred Williams. “I will miss seeing her, but not when Housatonic plays Northwestern.”
Sorry, Fred, but your headaches may not be over. Sydney will be gone next year, but a sister, Ava, will be a freshman. The BL isn’t done with Segallas just yet.
“We have a bet,” said Sydney, “on if she’ll beat my times.”
Reach Steve Barlow at email@example.com.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Full comments from opposing coaches about Sydney Segalla:
“It’s not often that you get to see some really special athletes come through the league. It’s a challenge to play against her as a coach, but you get to see how your team stacks up defensively. As an athlete, it’s a good measuring stick to see how you stack up individually. With Sydney around, it was an uphill battle to win the league, and she showed us just that in our final away game of the season. I thinks it’s fair to say that the whole Berkshire league is rooting for her de ella in college. ”
Nick Sheikh, Nonnewaug soccer coach
“Sydney Segalla is a phenomenal athlete, which she has displayed in our league for the past four years. My first encounter with her was on the basketball court when she was a freshman. I commented that year that she was not a great basketball player, but she was certainly a great athlete. As the seasons have passed, she became a great basketball player as well. I will miss seeing her on the court, but not when Housatonic plays Northwestern! She has been all-league and All-State in all three sports she plays, confirming how great an athlete she is, but just as important to me, I have seen her develop as a person. She is a competitor and she will knock you down during play, but she will help you up when the time is right. Sydney is the perfect person for this award. Good luck, Sydney, BC! I might add that a girl received the award on the 50th anniversary year of Title 9!”
Fred Williams, Northwestern basketball coach
“An all-time great athlete in the BL. She competes at a different level than her de ella competitors, one that jumps off the page, one that makes even the most seasoned observer say, ‘Whoa, that kid is different than the rest.’ But what stands out more is a kid who is that special an athlete and also makes time for and acknowledges the efforts of those she competes against.
“She’s the kid who makes coaches game-plan especially for her, makes her opponents rise to their very best to have a chance against her, but will then also pose for selfies with them after a game. Ella she’s uniquely talented and humble at the same time.
“One of the things that impresses me the most is that after doing her valiant best to beat a team (Thomaston) in the regular season, she voluntarily spent time with them preparing in the postseason on their road to a state championship. She brilliantly talented, a gutty competitor, but also selfless in sharing her time with others.
“She’s a kid who picked up a new sport, set the league on fire in doing so, and leaves no one surprised at the success she has had. If someone had told me that ella she’d go out for track for the first time this year, I’d have said, ‘ella She’s going to be a multiple event State Open champion.’ I have no clue of the expectations she had for herself, but that is the degree of respect I have for that kid as an athlete.”
Toby Denman, Nonnewaug assistant basketball coach