Lifetime love of the game
By Greg Bach
Growing up in a sports-loving family, Allie LaForce’s youth was filled with athletic activities that included basketball, softball and track and field.
And that whirlwind of practices and games produced some unexpected – and mighty memorable – moments that she still cherishes these days.
“I remember finishing pitching a varsity softball game and running about 500 yards across the field to the track and competing in the 800 and finishing in second place,” says LaForce, the popular TNT broadcaster and former college basketball player. “I changed into my track uniform in my mom's car, but I forgot to change my socks, so I had on tall softball socks and my track uniform. It was embarrassing, but fun!”
EXCELLENCE ON THE COURT
LaForce was a standout in basketball at Vermilion High School in Ohio. A terrific all-around player, she led the team in scoring as a sophomore; was Team MVP as a junior; and was named first-team all-district as a senior.
The daughter of athletic parents – her mom played tennis at Kent State and her dad played football at Wittenberg University – she walked on to the Ohio University basketball team and played two seasons.
We caught up with LaForce, who does sideline reporting for NBA games and the NCAA basketball tournament, to discuss her youth sports journey. Check out what she shared:
SPORTINGKID LIVE: How did you fall in love with basketball as a youth?
LAFORCE: This is an easy one! My mom and dad were both college athletes and instilled the competitor in me from a young age. They also both traveled a lot for work so my mom's sister, Connie, lived with us growing up and helped take care of us. Well, she happened to be a varsity basketball coach, so I lived in the gym! We set goals and posted them all over my room and ceiling about setting records and I dreamed of playing in college, ever since I knew what a basketball was.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: How did you learn to stay positive during games when faced with adversity?
LAFORCE: You just have to give it everything you have, know that even that much won't always be enough, and trust your teammates.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: Did a parent or coach ever say something to you about competing in sports that stuck with you and influenced how you approached practices and games?
LAFORCE: My dad always said, ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get.’ I believe that. It's not luck, it’s a product of effort. And sometimes you get lucky.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: How did you learn to stay motivated and embrace working hard to gain improvement?
LAFORCE: I was never the most athletic or talented. I had to work for it. And my coach, Skip Davis, always said, ‘It’s not what you do when people are looking – it's what you do when no one is looking.’
SPORTINGKID LIVE: What did you learn through playing sports that has helped you lead a successful life?
LAFORCE: Everything! Your mind controls everything. We don't know our limits until we are pushed further, and we can always be pushed further. That the power of a team is always more powerful than an individual – with the right teammates. The importance of physical fitness, teamwork, balancing life, family, school, work, and a game. All of it.
Track and Field
Part Two of our conversation with Lisa Yue, Founding Executive Director of the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation
Dr. Kristine Keane, co-author of the new book Be All In: Raising Kids for Success in Sports and Life, shares all-important insight on concussions, specialization, and more
Lauren Johnson, Mental Conditioning Coordinator for the New York Yankees, on helping young athletes thrive amid the stress and struggles that accompany competing in sports
Soccer great Christie Pearce Rampone, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, two-time World Cup Champion and co-author of Be All In, on helping parents raise their young athletes for success on and off the field