Missy Kurt has found a perfect way of staying slender. But the method used by the three-sport athlete from Notre Dame Academy is not for everyone.
Kurt, a 5-7, 116-pound junior and a Westchester resident, is one of the nation's best volleyball players in her age group (17 and younger) and a star in basketball and softball at Notre Dame, a West Los Angeles girls' school.
Her U.S. Volleyball Assn. club, Asics Tiger of Santa Fe Springs, last year won the USVBA national championship for players 17 and younger, held in St. Joseph, Mo., and competed last summer in the prestigious Pacific Rim Tournament at Hilo, Hawaii. The year before she was named the most valuable player as the club she played for then, Ichiban, won the USVBA national title for players 15 and younger at the University of Rhode Island.
In high school, Kurt, who will be 17 Tuesday, has been an All-Sunshine League selection twice in softball and basketball and three times in volleyball, and last basketball season she was named to The Times' All-Westside team.
Made it to CIF Finals
For the past two volleyball seasons she has twice been named to All-CIF Southern Section 4-A teams. Last season Kurt, a setter-hitter for her school team, led Notre Dame to the 4-A CIF volleyball finals, where they lost to Marlborough, another Sunshine League team.
She does a lot of running around competing in those sports, particularly since the seasons for her high school sports overlap and she plays prep basketball during the same season that she plays USVBA volleyball.
All that running and competition keeps the pounds off, but it doesn't give her much time for studies or boys.
Take last week. She had finished her final examinations on Thursday and was being interviewed by a reporter on Friday when her basketball coach, Renee Goepel, informed her that a practice game with Brentwood, thought to have been canceled, was going to played that afternoon, in about half an hour.
While Goepel, who played basketball at Golden West College and at the University of Houston, got on the phone and frantically tried to round up her players, Kurt, who thought she was going to have a slow day, excused herself to don her basketball uniform. With Goepel, Kurt and three other Notre Dame players in a makeshift lineup, the Regals made short work of Brentwood.
Kurt, who plays both forward and guard and seems more comfortable as a slick-passing point guard, had to cut it short that day. The next morning she had to be in Mexicali for an exhibition volleyball match with the Asics Tiger.
A couple of days a week she has to do a lot of her homework while her mother, Noreen, drives her from basketball practice at Notre Dame to volleyball practice with the Asics Tiger team at Santa Fe Springs High School. But her hectic schedule doesn't keep her from getting good grades. She said she has a 3.3 grade point average (out of a possible 4).
Does playing basketball and volleyball at the same time take the edge off her skills in either sport? "No," said Coach Goepel, who competed in basketball, volleyball, track and swimming when she was a student at Alhambra High School.
"Missy is a good athlete, and, fortunately, she is able to make the transition from one sport to another," Goepel said.
A sprained ankle suffered in volleyball practice last November hampered her transition to basketball this season. But, although she missed 10 games with her injury, the Notre Dame cagers did all right without her. The Regals were 7-3 with Kurt not playing, and with her back in the lineup were 10-3 as the week began.
But her basketball layoff, Kurt said, did affect her game. "My timing has been off," she said.
Goepel said Kurt's absence did bother the basketball team because "she is an inspiration to the team. It hurt us, but it also gave the team confidence that they can play without her as well as with her--and it made us even stronger."
Notre Dame has been the Sunshine League runner-up to Regina Caeli of Compton the last two seasons. But, said Goepel, "I think it's going to be a lot different this year. Regina Caeli is building this year, and I think our toughest competitor will be Marymount (in Westwood). We play Marymount (in the first of two league games) on Jan. 28, which is Missy's birthday."
Kurt would like nothing better than a win over Marymount as a birthday present, but a cage victory or even a CIF basketball championship wouldn't make her give up her favorite sport of volleyball.
Goepel said that she has received letters of inquiry from about 20 colleges that are interested in her as a basketball player but that her volleyball coach at Notre Dame, Tom Brenner, has probably received twice that many about her volleyball abilities.
Could she play both sports in college? "I'm sure she could do both, but it is a big adjustment from high school to college," Goepel said.
If she had to give up one sport to concentrate on the other, Kurt said, "I would choose volleyball. There's more of a future in it. You can play volleyball all your life."
But for the moment, she said, "boys are out. I think about it (dating), but my first priorities are school and sports. So it wouldn't be fair to him. There was a boy last summer, and he was very understanding."
But dating in the future, say between the end of school and another national tournament appearance in volleyball, is still a possibility, she said--"if there's somebody out there who's willing to put up with me and my schedule."