TCU Athlete Discusses Playing Multiple Sports

TCU sophomore Sarah Sylvester
TCU sophomore Sarah Sylvester | Image by TCU Athletics

TCU sophomore Sarah Sylvester was a two-sport high school star in Michigan and chose to pursue a volleyball career when she came to Fort Worth on a scholarship.

However, when injuries hit the Horned Frogs women’s basketball team this past season, she decided to walk onto the team and became the first student-athlete to play both sports since the school joined the Big 12 in 2012.

“It was kind of a shock,” she told The Dallas Express. “I thought someone had to have done that. A couple of the girls play indoor and beach volleyball, so they do two sports, but hearing that was super cool. It’s just a really cool experience to be able to hang on to and talk about later down the road with friends and family.”

The Horned Frogs women’s basketball team started the season 14-0 but quickly had to find reinforcements as the injuries piled up, which resulted in multiple forfeits during Big 12 play. The team held open tryouts to add players to its dwindling roster, and Sylvester decided to go out for the team after discussions with a volleyball teammate and some basketball players.

“They just asked me to come to try out and see how it was, and then we had a couple of conversations about scheduling conflicts and what my volleyball coaches were going to say,” Sylvester explained. “But it was a pretty quick turnaround because they had to get back to playing. So it was just kind of on a whim.”

While initially deciding to focus on just one sport in college, the tryout announcement reignited Sylvester’s love of basketball, and she felt she needed to pursue the opportunity.

“People always asked me if I wanted to play two sports in college, but I was like, ‘No, I think I’m just going to do one so I have more time with it and really focus on it,'” she added. “But once I saw that [they were looking for players], I was like, ‘This comes as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I feel like I couldn’t really pass up.'”

Sylvester had earned college scholarship offers for both sports but decided to pursue volleyball in college, even though it was the sport she had been playing for a shorter period and the sports mainly had separate season schedules.

“I just felt like there was a bigger horizon for volleyball, and there was just so much more for me to learn and so much more room for growth in volleyball,” she told The Dallas Express. “So I just felt like I should take it and see where it went, and I’ve been loving it so far.”

Sylvester was one of four players selected to join the team from what she said was a 20-person tryout. She worked through the logistics of her schedule with her academic advisors and coaches of both teams.

“They were incredible,” she remarked. “They had conversations on their own on the front end about it, just making sure it all could work, and compliance was involved — making sure things were allowed, I’m under a certain amount of hours a week, and make sure that all works. But my volleyball coach was so supportive about it. He was like, ‘Anything to support the TCU athletic community, just go for it and put your best foot forward. Don’t get hurt.’ … The basketball coaches were incredible about my schedule and whatever I needed to do. They were like, ‘Volleyball is your priority. We get that. So if you need to do something with them, that’s all good.'”

Sylvester’s ability to juggle both sports is an increasingly rare feat as more and more young athletes choose to perfect one sport rather than play multiple. But if you ask her, pursuing more than one sport has plenty of benefits.

“It’s definitely becoming more of a thing now to just specialize in one sport from when you’re super, super little, which I don’t think is best because you might kind of grow out of that sport by the time you’re 17 or 18 and ready to go to college,” she explained. “You don’t really want to be falling out of the sport when you’re supposed to go play for a school. So, if you can play two sports and make it work, definitely try to do it just because you can keep your options open.”

“For me, basketball, I thought I was going to play in college since I was little, but I ended up finding more joy and love with volleyball later on, so I’m glad I kept that door open for myself,” Sylvester continued. “… So, spread yourself out a little bit and do not think your whole life revolves around one singular sport. Give yourself some options.”

While she will continue to play both sports at TCU, she is now adding golf to her arsenal with the help of Parsons Xtreme Golf. But don’t expect her to try to play all three for the school.


“Golf’s a good life skill just to have when you’re an adult, and just the connections and all that kind of stuff,” Sylvester told The Dallas Express. “It’s an easy thing to just go to on the weekends and usually for fun. My dad loves golf. My brother, he loves golf. They’re huge golf guys, so it would be fun to just go out and play with them and know a little bit more about it. … And it’s fun to be outside and be with family and friends.”

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