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Sunny Hills' Takasaki Has a Narrower Focus


FULLERTON — Last year, Megumi Takasaki redefined the word overachiever .

As a sophomore at Sunny Hills, she competed in six sports--earning All-Freeway League honors in softball--and was a starting middle blocker for a volleyball team that advanced to the semifinals of the State tournament.

In the classroom, Takasaki, taking a full load of honors courses in Sunny Hills' International Baccalaureate program, scored a 4.3 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.

And she still found time to play the violin in the school orchestra.

So how did a 15-year-old handle such a rigorous schedule?

"Compromise. My life is a big compromise," Takasaki said. "It's pretty hard. . . . I have to figure out how much to lose in one spot, and how much to gain in another."

Takasaki, who also competed in cross-country, basketball, swimming and soccer, said shuffling between concurrent sports is not as hard as it may seem.

"It's really not that bad in the fall and spring, because one of them (cross-country or swimming) is an individual-type sport," she said. "Last year, it was working out OK, but it was kind of a touchy situation. It requires the understanding of the whole team.

"This year, I was told I had to pick one (winter sport), and I picked basketball."

One person happy with that decision is basketball Coach Greg Del Crognale.

"Her athletic ability is outstanding," Del Crognale said. "She can do anything you can think of in any sport. I haven't seen anything like her athletically in a long while. She has a lot of natural ability."

Takasaki is far from boastful about her athletic prowess.

"I'm pretty much average in all of them," she said. "I'm not the best in any one sport, I'm just average in various sports. It'd be nice if they had a scholarship for 'The Average for Every Sport.' "

Her achievements suggest she is anything but average. As a shortstop for the softball team, Takasaki hit .406, helping the Lancers to the Southern Section Division II playoffs. It was only Takasaki's second year playing softball; until high school, she played baseball and was an all-star catcher in Little League.

She also played a key role in Sunny Hills' march to the volleyball playoffs this year, placing second on the team with 113 kills, and second in blocks, earning first-team all-league honors.

"Her strength lies in her quick-twitch muscles. She has more of those than your average female athlete," Sunny Hills volleyball Coach Ron Kasser said. "Quick reflexes, quickness to the ball, that's what separates her from a lot of kids."

Kasser said Takasaki has a chance to play volleyball in college if she commits herself year-round to the sport. She admits narrowing her athletic focus will be imperative not only for improving her softball and volleyball skills, but also for dealing with her demanding academic schedule. This year, Takasaki is taking honors courses in U.S. history, probability and statistics, English and chemistry.

That narrowing began when she decided not to play soccer this winter.

"Basketball is more challenging than soccer," she said. "There's less players involved, so you have more responsibility on you. One player makes a difference. In soccer, one person really doesn't make a difference."

Del Crognale said because of Sunny Hills' lack of height on the basketball team, the 5-foot-7 Takasaki will play "all over the place."

"She's really aggressive, which makes her good on defense," he said. "She'll probably guard (the opposing team's) best offensive player. She jumps real well, and she's fast."

Takasaki said staying active athletically helps her achieve scholastically.

"It takes a lot off my mind," she said. "By the time I get home (from practice), I'm ready, in a peaceful state of mind, and I can concentrate better."

And what would happen if she didn't compete?

"I'd probably sleep for about a year," she said.

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