Nazareth’s Visconto does it all for her school

  • Visconto has been on head coach John Turner’s basketball team since she was a freshman at Nazareth.

  • Busy bee: Nazareth Academy’s Karli Visconto is playing basketball and running indoor track for the Pandas. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE VISCONTO FAMILY

Karli Vis­con­to has be­come so skilled at bal­an­cing her hec­tic sched­ule that it’s a sur­prise she hasn’t taken up the trapeze by now.

Like a lot of oth­er stu­dent-ath­letes her age, Vis­con­to, a ju­ni­or at Naz­areth Academy, par­ti­cip­ates in mul­tiple sports. However, what makes her story re­mark­able is that she’s play­ing two sports … at the same time.

Bas­ket­ball had al­ways been Vis­con­to’s first love, as she began play­ing around age 5 or 6. She’s suited up for head coach John Turn­er’s team at Naz­areth since she was a fresh­man, but it was her in­clu­sion on the fall cross coun­try team that al­lowed a thought to creep in­to the al­ways act­ive Vis­con­to’s head: what if she could play bas­ket­ball and run in­door track sim­ul­tan­eously in the win­ter­time.

“Dur­ing cross coun­try sea­son I was put­ting up some good times, and I real­ized I wanted to run in col­lege,” Vis­con­to said dur­ing a Sunday af­ter­noon chat at her home down the street from Our Lady of Cal­vary. “It’s not something I al­ways wanted to pur­sue, and up un­til sopho­more year I thought I wanted to play bas­ket­ball in col­lege. It’s still my top sport, but I also said that maybe I could also come to a couple of in­door track meets while try­ing to qual­i­fy for states.”

Be­fore the winter sea­son star­ted, Vis­con­to went to a meet­ing also at­ten­ded by John Turn­er, track coach Paul Peters and ath­let­ic dir­ect­or Dani­elle Turn­er. The feat she was think­ing of at­tempt­ing hadn’t been done be­fore, but Vis­con­to said she left the meet­ing hav­ing con­vinced her coaches that she was 100 per­cent com­mit­ted to both sports.

A typ­ic­al day this winter for Vis­con­to sees her at­tend classes at Naz­areth most of the day, where she tries to get a jump on home­work dur­ing her study peri­ods. Then, be­fore bas­ket­ball prac­tice be­gins (Vis­con­to doesn’t train for track on days the Pan­das have a hoops con­test), she changes in­to her run­ning clothes and trains for over an hour at Eden Hall, across the street from the school. Then, there’s a 45-minute break, then prac­tice, then home to fin­ish any home­work Vis­con­to didn’t com­plete dur­ing school. In­door track meets, she said, usu­ally oc­cur on Fri­day even­ings, some­times as far away as Le­high Uni­versity.

“People have asked me why I’m do­ing this, and the simple an­swer is that I want to,” Vis­con­to said. “I knew I had to con­sider where I want to be for col­lege and fu­ture goals I’ve set for my­self. Plus, I’m the type of per­son who needs to be kept busy. If I have too much time on my hands, then I don’t know what to do with my­self.”

Vis­con­to said she is already hear­ing from pos­sibly in­ter­ested col­leges, all while con­tinu­ing to work to drop her times — she said she’s cur­rently 10 seconds away from be­ing able to qual­i­fy for the in­door mile run at states, and just four seconds from qual­i­fy­ing for the 800-meter race.

And al­though she main­tained she has held a firm grasp on her ex­tra­cur­riculars, there have been frus­trat­ing mo­ments. For ex­ample, Vis­con­to had to re­cently sit out a week when she in­jured her quad, which she mused could have been the res­ult of run­ning/train­ing out­side in fri­gid tem­per­at­ures.

“I felt guilty, be­cause I was out of bas­ket­ball due to a workout I did for in­door track,” she said. “It wouldn’t hap­pen if I wasn’t do­ing both, so was this a good de­cision? But then I tell my­self I can handle it, and my coaches have been con­sid­er­ate with me in do­ing both sports and bear­ing with me.”

For John Turn­er and Peters, it’s been an easy de­cision to help Vis­con­to on her way. At a school like Naz­areth, teach­ers and coaches ul­ti­mately want what is best for the stu­dent-ath­letes, even if that does mean loosen­ing the leash and let­ting them find their way.

“She’s a joy to coach,” Peters said. “Her ded­ic­a­tion is amaz­ing. When it comes to aca­dem­ics and ath­let­ics she has just made a de­cision that both are ex­tremely im­port­ant to her and she is will­ing to put in the time, work and sac­ri­fice to ex­cel in both.”

“She has a tre­mend­ous work eth­ic that’s matched any­one I’ve ever coached,” Turn­er echoed. “The fact that she can com­pete at a high level in more than one sport speaks to that.”

Vis­con­to is also a straight-A stu­dent, boast­ing a 4.3 GPA. She’s also in­volved in stu­dent coun­cil and works as a peer coun­selor, to en­sure she is “more well-roun­ded and ap­peal­ing” to po­ten­tial uni­versity suit­ors.

“I want them to see someone that’s more than just a stu­dent,” she said. “Someone that can con­trib­ute a lot to their school and bring a lot to the table.”

For Vis­con­to, she wants to be great, not good, and her ma­tur­ity has al­lowed her to see how much work it will take to achieve the lofty goals she’s set for her­self. She said run­ning has helped com­part­ment­al­ize the things in her life that bring on stress, and that she has more time in the day than people might real­ize.

She en­joys “nor­mal kid” things like spend­ing time with friends, watch­ing Net­flix and go­ing to her fam­ily’s shore house in Wild­wood over the sum­mer. Vis­con­to said she’s not sure what winter sea­son seni­or year will bring in terms of will she par­ti­cip­ate in both sports again, and a lot of that may de­pend on where she is in the col­lege pro­cess. She may be spread­ing her­self thin at the mo­ment, but Vis­con­to knows it will only help her later in life.

“Noth­ing comes easy to me,” she said. “I’ve had to work really hard for everything I’ve achieved. I think this school has helped me a lot with that, in that every­one is will­ing to give you 110 per­cent as you’re will­ing to give the same in re­turn. Every­one wants the best for you, and it’s changed me in­to the per­son I am today. I used to get stressed, but now I just know that everything is go­ing to get done.” ••

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