St. Louis’ Tori Knollmeyer and Lacassine’s Christopher McVicker never shied away from a challenge during their high school careers. For their accomplishments, both on and off the court, Knollmeyer and McVicker earned the American Press annual Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. (Brad Puckett / American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:07 PMSt. Louis’ Tori Knollmeyer and Lacassine’s Christopher McVicker never shied away from a challenge during their high school careers.
In fact, the St. Louis volleyball and basketball player and the Lacassine tennis standout mastered the difficult balance of athletics and academics to the highest standard for four years. Both student-athletes maintained 4.0 grade-point averages, and Knollmeyer stood tall as valedictorian of the St. Louis class of 2012.
For their accomplishments, both on and off the court, Knollmeyer and McVicker earned the American Press annual Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.
Knollmeyer, who scored a 33 on the American College Test, signed to play basketball at Washington University in St. Louis and plans to major in engineering. McVicker (32 ACT) will stay a bit closer to home at LSU and major in biology.
Knollmeyer said the road to academic success wasn’t easy combined with playing two sports. But in the end, she said the key was effectively separating both aspects of her St. Louis career. She concluded her senior season with Division III volleyball all-state honors, Class 4A basketball all-state honorable mention and second-team All-Southwest Louisiana recognition along with the all-state academic composite team.
“At times it seemed like too much doing my homework right after a basketball game at 10 o’clock at night,” Knollmeyer said. “I’ve always been proud of how I can manage my time. I just took it one step at a time.
“It’s perfect; I’ve always played basketball and worked hard at school and had a challenge, and now I’ll be able to continue that.”
The 6-foot-2 Knollmeyer averaged 12.9 points per game in basketball this season and helped St. Louis advance to the regionals. In volleyball, the Saints fell one game short of a state championship after beating Vandebilt Catholic in the semifinals. Knollmeyer said that semifinal match was one highlight of the year and helped her remember to never give up at any task in life.
“We weren’t supposed to win, and on the court when we were playing them, we realized we were better than them,” Knollmeyer said. “You just have to keep going; there’s no other choice.”
For McVicker, the blueprint for success on the academic and athletic arenas was to view tennis as a stress relief. He played basketball in junior high, but it didn’t resonate with him the way tennis did.
So he turned to the hardcourts and never looked back, qualifying for regionals all four years and the state tournament this season in the top singles spot for Lacassine.
“Tennis was a way to balance out everything,” McVicker said. “If I did one thing for too long, I would get bored. It was nice to get to do something else that I enjoyed and was reasonably good at.”
Like Knollmeyer, McVicker agreed that prioritizing helped him ascertain the importance of certain aspects of life, including academics and athletics.
“I had to realize the more things you do, the less free time you have for yourself, but it was worth everything,” he said. “The thing that got tricky was balancing tennis with other activities like FFA (Future Farmers of America). No one is ever going to be able to do everything they want to do. You have to realize the opportunity cost of everything.”
McVicker said possible career avenues for him could be zoology or ecology. As he embarks on the next phase of his life at LSU, tennis remains an activity he’d like to pursue on either an organized or recreational level.
Furthermore, McVicker said he’s grateful he learned how to be versatile by playing tennis while excelling in the classroom.
“It’s good to have different things to keep your mind occupied and exercise your mind in a different way,” McVicker said. “A lot of people think just because you make good grades, that’s all you can do. It’s good to be one of those people who can apply your abilities to other areas.”
He and Knollmeyer are prime examples of how beneficial that resourcefulness can be in setting the tone for confronting challenges beyond high school.
Boys — Josh Jagneaux, Bell City (basketball, baseball, track, cross country), 4.0 GPA; Matthew Jester, St. Louis (soccer, cross country), 4.0; Mason DeLapp, Leesville (football, track, tennis), 3.9792; Ryan Keith Well, Leesville (soccer, cross country, tennis, rifle, track), 4.0.
Girls — Kylie Goodeaux, Westlake (basketball, softball, volleyball, track), 4.0 GPA; Taylor Goree, Barbe (volleyball, softball), 3.8462; Shelby Landry, Bell City (basketball, softball, track, cross country), 4.0; Stephanie Menard, Jennings (volleyball, basketball, softball), 4.0; Marcie Michalko, Lacassine (basketball, track, tennis), 4.0; Courtney Wright, Leesville (cross country, cheerleading, track, swimming), 4.0.
2011 — Cameron Meyer, Hamilton Christian and Ashley Pfantz, DeRidder.
2010 — Cody Neal, Fairview and Kathryn Leonards, Bell City.
2009 — Joseph Caraway, Lacassine and Lauren Pickle, Welsh.
2008 — Lee Jones, Sam Houston and Laura Carleton, St. Louis.
2007 — Brady Glaser, East Beauregard and Tiffany Gill, East Beauregard.
2006 — Andrew Moss, Sam Houston and Kate Yoder, St. Louis.
2005 — Jamie Sitz, DeRidder and Brittni Granger, Sam Houston.
2004 — Dane Clayton, Lacassine and Maegan Loupe, DeRidder.
2003 — Adam LaCock, St. Louis and Jennifer Kramer, Iowa.
2002 — Kenneth Habbitz, South Beauregard and Ashley Fontenot, Oberlin.
2001 — Brandon Thomas, Rosepine and Laura Rush, Oakdale.
2000 — Kaleb Marcantel, Kinder and Katie Depuy, Hamilton Christian.
1999 — Brent Newsom, DeRidder and Tiffany Brown, Sam Houston.
1998 — Phillip Watson, St. Louis and Lisa Guidry, South Beauregard.
1997 — Darwin Pinder, DeQuincy and Jessica Trahan, Lake Arthur.
1996 — Jeff Chaumont, Sam Houston and Kelly Walker, Barbe.
1995 — Scott Betz, St. Louis and Robin Rodrigue, Westlake.